Worldwide rates of depression and anxiety are at all time highs. There may not be one, simple reason we can point to in attempting to explain this. However, there is little doubt that a major contributing factor can be summarized by a single word we hear all too often: multitasking.
We all have responsibilities that need to be met and multiple demands upon our time. However, many of us attempt to do too much in the mistaken assumption that it makes us more productive. It is important to remember that quantity can adversely affect quality. However, it is not merely a question of productivity that is of concern here.
Here’s a shocking statistic: In 1960 only 2% of Americans averaged less than 7 hours of sleep nightly. Today that percentage has grown to almost 40%! Adequate sleep is crucial to both physical and emotional well being. Your brain “sweeps” itself clean of toxins during sleep, so you are literally poisoning yourself by not getting enough! What are we doing differently in today’s world that is causing us to do this to ourselves?Here’s the question: Do people today really have more responsibility and demands on their time as compared to people in 1960? In 1960 my father was a full time student while working two jobs to pay for his education. I don’t think my father ever suffered a day of depression or excess anxiety in his life.
What I’m driving at is that today’s world seems to be cultivating a culture that compulsively engages in more, more and more. How many of the things that we do are really necessary? Indeed, how many of the things we do are vital in positively impacting the quality of our lives and our emotional well being?
The name of the game here is to learn to simplify our lives wherever possible.
Parents: It is O.K. if your child is not participating in 5 different clubs and/or team sports; let them have their down time too.
College students: Your resume upon graduation doesn’t need to list achievements in an enormous array of extracurricular activities while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Everyone: Cut down the internet chatter and block out “technology” free breaks in your daily schedule. Nothing bad will happen if you do this for a couple hours each day to focus all of your attention on family, friends, or simple reflection on your own.
I would encourage all of us to start looking at where we can cut back on the hectic pace of our lives. Where can we “streamline”? What can we give up? Can we cut back by 30 minutes daily internet screen time, watching TV, or the length of work meetings?
I realize what I am suggesting goes against the grain of our culture today. However, please do not underestimate the power of learning how to simplify your life.