Sustainable Living

The aim is simple. I wish to boost my overall sense of wellbeing by living a more fulfilling life day-to-day.

I decided it was time to consciously unpack why I feel overwhelmed:

  • The city feels rushed. The negative effects of traffic while people are rushing to get somewhere on time can be a terrible start to ones day.

  • At work we may be bombarded by emails, meetings, changes in priorities, distractions, work we couldn't complete the day before, deadlines and crises that need to be dealt with. We have so much work to get done that it's counter-intuitive to take breaks. Multitask!

  • We are overloaded by information from all over the world and it's readily accessible to us any time of the day.

  • Being exposed to how other people advertise their lives on social media makes us question our own sense of achievement and can leave us feeling overwhelmed and sometimes even depressed.

  • Our devices distract us through notifications, messages and calls.

  • In software, everything keeps changing. There is so much to keep in mind, learn, troubleshoot and figure out. People look to us for answers to questions that we sometimes don't have.

  • We have personal commitments too like going to the gym, meeting with friends, attending meetups, servicing our vehicles etc. Our weekends can easily get booked out causing anxiety as it could be considered our "me-time" or "down-time".

It's no wonder at the end of the day we are exhausted. There are only 24 hours in each day of which 8 of them we need for proper sleep.

Epiphany

I don't want to live each day waiting for retirement, wishing for a vacation, waiting for payday or celebrating the start of a weekend.

Over the years I've had many thoughts of retreating to the outskirts of the country, getting off the grid or going to live a minimalist life on an island somewhere. Those thoughts gave my mind a false sense of peace in a reality that never materialized.

I realized that I needed to find ways to deal with the overwhelming nature of my current lifestyle without escaping the city and I believe it's possible.

Since I have started thinking about this, my perspective is actively collecting information to improve. The aim is simple. I wish to boost my overall sense of wellbeing by living a more fulfilling life day-to-day in an environment that is rushing around me.

By doing so I believe that it will improve my:

  • Productivity & performance
  • Self confidence
  • Energy levels
  • Time management
  • Decision making
  • Interactions with others
  • Sleep

My experiment

As there is so much happening I know I am not in control of everything. For that which I am in control of, I can try to take small steps toward this aim.

I started by practicing mindfulness just over a month ago. I've slowed things down quite a bit.

Something interesting I've noticed about me is that I can push through a great deal of work. Once the end has been reached and things slow down again, I get sick and feel exhausted. I think that's where I am now.

As I'm still figuring things out I am not concerned but I would like to document the progress and things I am learning through this journey.

I must say that although I am feeling exhausted, I don't feel as overwhelmed as I used to. Many of the things that overwhelmed me were side-effects of a mind running wild with thoughts and getting sucked into the rush around me.

My mindset

The moment I look at something as a goal my mind believes there is an end to it and then I can tackle the next best thing.

Instead I think of sustainable living as a choice of lifestyle with deliberate yet minimal effort as to not overwhelm myself further.

I am trying to work on my routine. Throughout the last 6 months or so, these practices have become a part of me and aid me in my new journey:

  • I leave for work and head home outside of peak traffic times to avoid unnecessary frustrations.

  • I am practicing journaling where I write about my day to find out more about myself, allow myself time to reflect and process my thoughts.

  • I am training myself to singletask instead of multitask to improve the quality of work I deliver as well as my mental wellbeing.

  • When I am stressed, I pause, take a few deep breaths to calm myself down.

  • I make sure to meditate each day for a minimum of 10 minutes using the Headspace or Buddify apps.

  • I see a counselling psychologist monthly for coaching in both my career and personal life.

  • I attend an hour of Pilates and hour of Yoga class each week for exercise, to strengthen my core, improve my posture and for better headspace.

  • I am reading up about Behavioral Science and how it can improve my working life.

  • I observe and converse with others to learn more about life and how others are coping.

  • I try not to look at my phone all the time. When I am walking, I don't read or reply to messages. I try to allocate a few seconds every now and then to attend to messages. I've also found comfort in muting certain notifications that never need immediate attention.

  • When I find myself rushing, I slow down and walk at a normal pace. Surprisingly I am always on time.

My final thoughts

It's not easy. I find many challenges and I don't always get it right. I am not getting enough sleep and I am feeling a bit ill but I don't belittle myself. I just keep trying and it's working.

I am seeing signs of improvement. I am more approachable and I am getting more done than before. My days feel more meaningful and already this is more sustainable than my drifting "what the hell did I do today?" type of days.

Admittedly my blog took a bit of strain as I decided some downtime was required but so be it.

I am eager to know your thoughts and perspective on this topic. Please feel free to share with me.

Happy living!

Resources

  • Headspace is a gym membership for the mind. A course of guided meditation, delivered via an app or online. You can try their starter course of 10 meditations for free. The other meditations require a subscription.

  • Buddify has over 80 guided meditations custom-made for wherever you are and whatever you’re doing – traveling, at work, at home, going to sleep and much more. All for the price of a cup of coffee and with no hidden extra charges.

  • Reading How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb. You can get it from Amazon, Google Play, iBooks, Takealot.com, anywhere else online or your favorite book store.