Beauty in Simplicity: Detox Your Summer Schedule
Having traveled to many great places, I've witnessed diversity in landscape, the hustle of the city and the plethora of culture, which has enriched who I am and my understanding of the world. Recently, with the travel necessary for my son’s golf ambitions, I’ve been all over the Midwest: central Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, etc. I grew up in the Midwest with a cornfield behind my house, and received my bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Illinois State, in central Illinois. I didn’t anticipate it, but despite the hectic travels, being in these rural Midwestern spots has brought a sense of comfort; it’s been very grounding to return to those roots. In the daily drives to and from the golf course, I’ve been reminded of the beauty in simple things: in the square acres of crops; in simple homes, in the old barns and most of all in the countless rows of corn. Driving past the perfect rows of deep green stalks reminded me of how, when we clear away the distractions, there is peace in nature and in life.
“Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement…”
Our culture and our egos are always pushing us to accumulate more, be more, do more. But how much stuff do you need to feel whole? To be happy? To consider yourself an accomplished professional? Couldn’t our lives be just as beautiful if we kept it simple?
We set aside time for detox diets to clear out the “clutter” in our digestive system. I’d like to suggest a detox of our schedule and personal demands. We could probably all benefit from clearing out some of the distractions and extra stuff in our daily schedules. Tough to say no? Let me offer 5 reasons and examples of why you should Detox Your Busy Life:
It will clear out the toxins. Food detoxes are great for removing toxins from your body (chemicals, preservatives, etc.) because it affects our metabolism, behavior and immune system. What about your actions? In looking at your weekly schedule, are there things you continue to do that stress you out and affect your behavior because you either don’t have time or don’t like doing them? Just because you’ve volunteered at the local food pantry for the last five years doesn’t mean you have to for another five. Just because you feel like you have to make the kids lunches doesn’t mean they can’t start sharing in the responsibilities. Think of things you do that, while they started with good intentions are becoming toxic because they actually affect your behavior to the negative. How many times do you feel “run down” because you simply can’t keep up, and then find you are sick three days later? Can you delegate to someone else, or just say no?
It will prevent chronic disease. Becoming exhausted from too much of a heavy workload causes stress reactions within the body. When the brain is exposed to chronic stress, its delicate chemical balance is interrupted. Individuals exposed to long-term stress are prone to anxiety and depression. In a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry this May, author Samuel B Harvey, PhD and others concluded that "high job strain appears to independently affect the risk of future common mental disorders in midlife.” Among these are treatments for anxiety and depression. Further, in a June 2, 2018 article by the World Health Organization, “common mental disorders are increasing worldwide. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people suffering from depression and/or anxiety increased by nearly 50%, from 416 million to 615 million. Close to 10% of the world’s population is affected.” It’s a snowball effect that is tough to get out of once it begins. Consider how many hours you are working and if you are ever disconnected. Try taking something off your plate so you aren’t constantly exhausted.
It will help you lose weight. There’s no question that when we are over-committed our overall health can suffer. We don’t eat as healthy because we have to get something “on the go.” We tend to snack more on sugar and caffeine to prevent falling asleep at our desks. We exercise less because either we don’t have time or we’re too exhausted. All these things contribute to weight gain. When we take the time to pack a lunch, or eat dinner at home with fresh seasonal foods, we can at least maintain our weight, if not lose a little. A favorite summer side dish is a plate tomatoes and (buffalo mozzarella) cheese with some olive oil, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar. It takes less than five minutes to make, is refreshing, colorful and delicious!
You will have increased energy. By cutting out the extra stuff in your schedule, you’ll have more mental, physical and emotional energy for what is important and what is valuable. There are only so many hours in the day, and you only have so much to give of yourself. If you don’t have to spread yourself so thin, you won’t feel like you did a mediocre job on everything, but a good job on most.
You will have mental and emotional clarity. I’ve been writing a lot about mindfulness lately and the need to focus on one thing at a time. A healthy diet helps with clarity and concentration, and so does a more purposeful and focused schedule. You’ll feel like you are doing things for a reason, instead of running a hundred miles an hour and getting nowhere. Besides, it’s more fulfilling when there is a purpose to your actions!
Help balance your life by detoxing your schedule and enjoy the time more. Release the things that no longer serve you. Say no once in a while. Then, when you have time to fill, you can focus on filling it with what is important and fulfilling to you.