In my dreams, I am living on a small holding with some chickens, maybe a pig and space to grow lots of vegetables. My evenings are spent concocting delicious meals with the fresh produce and running up some gorgeous upcycled clothes that make me look a million dollars!
In reality, my tomato plants wither and die because I forget to water them; my tiny garden sometimes gets overgrown through neglect and meals are thrown together when my stomach starts rumbling! Even my sewing machine hibernates on the top of the cupboard whilst half finished ‘projects’ lie forgotten in the drawer.
I know I am not alone in hankering for a simpler way of life. The abundance of gadgets and technological advances doesn’t seem to have made life any easier. Instead, we are living at an increasingly frantic pace, rushing between the demands of work, keeping up with friends and family and staying tuned into the 24/7 online world.
Fewer and fewer of us have anytime to switch off, do nothing and let our brains relax even for an instant. Every waking moment has to be filled with meaningful activity or catching up with what’s going on in the world.
Memories of a slower pace of life
I wonder if this contributes to the high levels of stress, anxiety and depression that seems to be occurring now? Before the advent of the internet, when TV programmes started at 3.30pm, there were long hours in which we had to make our own entertainment – and sometimes that involved sitting doing nothing which, at the time, seemed very boring.
During my teenage years, I spent a fair amount of time in my room listening to records or reading. There was no multi-tasking by consuming music whilst playing a video game and chatting to friends at the same time, so my brain had down time, time to contemplate life or just snooze.
Is later retirement and more technology increasing burn out?
In years gone by, I would be retired now, but as it stands, I still have about 10 more years of work. So, with a longer working life and more information to absorb and process, are we in danger of complete burn out before we reach old age with time to relax and enjoy ourselves? Are we storing up another time bomb that the overstretched NHS will have to pick up?
With mental health more openly spoken about now, I wonder if we will see trends towards creating more resilience becoming more popular. As well as taking care of our bodies through eating healthily and exercising, will we spend more time and effort caring for our brain and emotional health?
It would be great to think that mindfulness would become part of everyone’s day – a few minutes focusing on the present and our surroundings, giving our brains a break from constant activity. Taking a break from computers, phones and other gadgets and connecting with nature through a walk or working with the soil or animals is the ideal.
So maybe my dream of a smallholding and a simpler life is my brain’s way of saying it’s time to take a break. On that note, I am going to log off, put my feet up and do some daydreaming – my way of protecting my brain!