Many of us feel the need for more personal quiet time. But then we resort to pulling ourselves together and show some grit. After all, being tough is cool and exemplary.
And when we suppress the desire for downtime continuously, it doesn’t go away. Instead, it increasingly manifests itself in irritability, frustration, and even depression.
While we are all individuals and have to find the right amount of personal quiet time that works for us, we all share the same history as human beings.
Taking the Need for More Personal Quiet Time Seriously By Understanding What We Are
So while we may think of us as evolved human beings living in the information age of the 21st century, our physical design came to be in the era when we lived as hunter-gatherers.
Our biological evolution moves in millennia rather than centuries. But with the agricultural revolution and consequently accelerated by the industrial revolution, our social and physical history decoupled.
And that is, in broad strokes, how what Harvard-based paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman calls mismatch diseases came to be.
These diseases include obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, certain cancers, allergies, asthma, gout, and celiac disease. Such ailments are increasing, and some have reached endemic levels in the wealthiest and so-called developed nations.
And the mismatch is between our prehistoric bodies and the modern lifestyle, which all too often means overeating, underexercising, and taking too little time to recharge our batteries.
In the U.S, there the risk that the incoming generation will be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.
The Mental Equivalent To Mismatch Diseases
As the mind is inseparable from the body, mismatch diseases find their expression in our psyche too. While human bodies suffer from overeating and sedentary lifestyles, our minds don’t deal well with continuous overstimulation and excitement.
Once done with hunting and gathering for a few hours, our ancestors had a lot of quiet time. They lived and flowed with nature. We, in contrast, bear with constant information overflow and overpowering stimulation from electronic gadgets and a noisy environment.
As a result, our mind’s most common impairments in this era of accelerated change are depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
So longing for personal quiet time is a natural and necessary answer to an overpowering environment.
For this reason, meditation works so well. Hunter-gatherers had so much downtime that they naturally ‘meditated’ for hours in nature.
And meditation links in with that our hunter-gatherer’s brains were made for and are best at – focusing on one thing at a time.
Accordingly, we don’t do well at multitasking and, in reality, diminish our productivity when we try to do various activities at once.
And then there is the most natural and beneficial downtime, which is sleep. According to renowned sleep scientist Matthew Walker, sleep is more important to our health than diet and exercise.
Make Personal Quiet Time a Priority
So how then to make sure that you get sufficient personal quiet time?
And mind you, this is not an argument for being lazy. It is good to push ourselves and go well beyond what we believe are our capacities.
But finding silence to recharge is part of being fully productive. And being alone in silence can have various forms. Above all, it is when we engage with focus that can serve as personal quiet time. Going for a walk or run in nature, playing an instrument, journaling, or drawing can serve the purpose of having personal quiet time.
Likewise, keeping things simple works well for our hunter-gatherer’s brains and reduces perceived stress.
It will be wisest to live in line with our physiological and mental conditions given by nature. And the furthest we can go when we honor our need for personal quiet time and make our energy level a priority.