In modern times, we lead busy lives and many of us juggle multiple roles and responsibilities. Some days, it’s easy to feel exhausted and disconnected with ourselves and our family. Below are 10 steps to reconnect with what is really important.
to reconnect prioritise and protect
The most common end-of-life regret that people express is wishing they’d spent more quality time with their family and friends. Write down the 10 most important people in your life and analyse if you are spending enough time with them. Prioritise your weekly schedule to allow time with those you love. Don’t forget the personal touch: everyone loves to get a card in the post, a bunch of handpicked flowers and a hug. No one ever gets too old for or tired of hearing “I love you”.
to reconnect return to nature
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to unwind and relax at the beach, watching the waves roll in and then crash upon your feet? It’s grounding to reconnect with nature and walk barefoot on the sand or grass and feel the earth between your toes. Take your kids on a bush walk or take time to wonder over the structure of a big old tree. You don’t even have to go far – admire a flower or native bird right outside your window.
to reconnect have your meals around the table
This may be the only time your family gets to spend together in a day. Research tells us that families who sit down around the table have lower rates of suicide and depression. It’s a great opportunity for you to connect with your children. Ask plenty of questions, such as: “What was the best/worst thing about your day?” and take the time to really listen. Be mindful with your eating. Don’t rush, take time to chew and savour the taste and texture of your food. The cook will appreciate it too!
20 minutes a day, press play
Save at least 20 minutes a day to do something fun or enjoyable with your children. Get down on the floor and do a puzzle or board game together. Snuggle up on the couch and read a book. Reading encourages children to make connections between what they are reading and their own ideas and experiences. Being active together is a fantastic way to reap the many health benefits of exercise. Physical activity boosts our mood by releasing endorphins, helps maintain a healthy body weight and improves the quality of our sleep. Whether you are baking muffins together or dancing around the living room, your kids will love spending time with you.
to reconnect have a weekend away
It’s hard not to feel recharged and refreshed after a weekend away, providing you make it simple. Getting away from your normal environment and routine helps to see the world with fresh eyes and give you the chance to have an adventure with your children. You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to have fun. Pack a tent and a pair of gumboots, or rent a cabin and enjoy exploring together.
to reconnect turn off the electronics
Reducing TV viewing to less than 1 hour a day encourages children to engage in non-structured/creative play which builds imagination, social skills and optimises brain development, particularly in the preschool years.
Your child will learn far more about themselves and the world around them from climbing a tree than watching a screen. Prolonged computer use can lead to poor posture, aching neck and shoulder muscles and a foggy brain. A healthy guide for computer use (providing you don’t have to use it for work) is no more than 1 hour a day. Be sure to
get up and move around every 20-30 minutes to improve your circulation and reduce the compressive forces through your spine.
When monitoring screen time, it is a good idea to ask yourself some important questions. Is the screen acting as your babysitter? Are your children watching age appropriate material that isn’t disturbing? Are social media sites helping your family become more connected OR disconnected with reality?
No one needs to be on call every minute of every waking hour. Smart phones often distract people and draw their attention away from the moment which is often much more important. Turn off your gadgets, enjoy the peace and savour the moment instead.
breathe to succeed
Breathing is one of the most powerful ways we can connect with our mind and body and create instant calm. When we are tense or stressed, we often breathe too fast (hyperventilate), breathe using our upper chest or even hold our breath. This breathing pattern leaves you feeling stressed and exhausted. Stop and drop your shoulders, breathe slow, low and in and out through your nose at rest. Breathing expert, Tania Clifton Smith, advises: “If in doubt, breathe out!” The outward breath should be longer than the inward breath and should be followed by a short pause. This pause increases our carbon dioxide levels which sedates the nervous system, leaving you more calm and energised.
to reconnect be mindful
The concept of mindfulness focuses on the present moment and awareness of your thought patterns. It encourages you not to live in the past or worry about the future. It helps you to become more efficient and effective by living in the here and now. When you become aware of your thoughts wandering, return to living in the present by absorbing the environment around you.
to reconnect be kind
Be kind to yourself and others. Our brains are wired to feel good when we are kind to other people. Be kind to your body by making sure you are nourishing your body with real food from nature. Be kind to your mind by thinking good thoughts, recognise unhelpful thoughts and let them go. Try practising positive affirmations (statements) and even say them out loud as you look in the mirror. How you feel about yourself is reflected in your body language, dynamics with other people and is observed by your children. Your children will benefit from you having a positive attitude and outlook on life.
last, but not least, count your blessings
It’s hard to feel unhappy or disconnected when you are focusing on gratitude. An appreciation of good things magnifies the positive, helps you see there is abundance in your life and breeds contentment. Remember the little things are the big things – it’s simple pleasures that bring joy. Counting your blessings means you are less likely to take things for granted and helps you to focus on the beauty and love that surrounds you.
Reconnecting with yourself and your family will help you feel more content and will ensure you spend your valuable time with the people who mean the most to you. Investing your time and energy in the right places will bring amazing rewards.
Sarah Sidey is a mother to three young children and is a health professional with a passion for writing and health promotion.
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