BREATHING SPACE

Why are we so bad at giving ourselves a break - even when we need it the most? 

When she was 28, Ariane she was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer - and she began to understand that being busy wasn't a marker of success 

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By Ariane Thornton-Mason on

“Ugh, I’m so busy!” I proclaim to my boyfriend, one drizzly Monday night. “Like, I have literally no time to fit everything in!” He rolls his eyes, he’s heard this one before. I’d only been living back in London for a month, after taking a year out due to illness, but already I’d been subsumed back into its “I’m too busy to pee” mentality. 

It seems us millennial woman can’t get enough of being busy. We all want to be the most hectic, the most over worked and the most stressed out. “Oh my god, I’m so busy!” we vent to our girlfriends, secretly and smugly beaming on the inside, feeling proud of our workaholic achievements and the fact that we’re wearing ourselves into the ground. Being busy is the new ‘it’ bag, the status symbol we’re all craving. 

Modern, urban life has engendered us to live frenzied lives, with convenience food, apps, travel and quick fix exercise all fuelling our desire to be busy. We're up at 6am, bolt out the door to a spin class, then mad dash it to the tube, glugging down a coffee en-route. We work flat out all day, order lunch to our desks and later hail a cab on our phones to take us to yet another work event, checking emails whilst precariously touching up our lippy simultaneously in the back of our cab as it zips through London. 

Although at times I felt desperately miserable and had severe bouts of FOMO, I gradually learnt to give my mind and body a break, to slow down, to accept that being busy didn't always need to be my marker of success

 

We’ve reached peak busy and recent research by Macmillan Cancer Support found that 4.4 million workers in the UK can’t even find the time to give themselves a coffee break during their working day.

Last year I found myself taking the biggest break of my life, when at 28 years-old I was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer. I serendipitously ended up living back at my childhood home - the beautiful, gently rolling hills of Somerset. In between my chemo and millions of hospital appointments, I found ways to switch off and leave my city life behind. I took solace in just doing nothing, in not being busy. My days were spent going for walks and reconnecting to nature, each breath of country air rejuvenating and healing me. 

And although at times I felt desperately miserable and had severe bouts of FOMO, I gradually learnt to give my mind and body a break, to slow down, to accept that being busy didn't always need to be my marker of success. 

 

The antidotes to our hectic lives is meditation via apps, crystal healing at our desks and chanting mantras to ourselves on busy tube trains. When actually, we forget to just give ourselves, quite simply, a break. A coffee away from our desks, a twenty-minute lunch time stroll, maybe even a weekend trip to the countryside. Head space. 

Try it, give yourself a break! With that in mind, I’m off to treat myself to a coffee and slice of cake. 

Oh yeah, and to take a pee!

Ariane is supporting the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning this year along with headline sponsor M&S, on Friday 29th September. To get involved at home or at work, visit www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee

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