book reading beach

Life happens a lot faster than it used to. If something important happens anywhere on the planet, the rest of the world can know about it by the end of the day. Technology changes so fast that your phone will be obsolete before your contract ends.

Knowledge can be downloaded at such a rate that people get impatient having to wait three seconds for a screen to load. People get irritable having to wait half an hour for a train, ten minutes for a bus, three minutes for a tube. It is painfully easy to get so swept up in the world’s rush that you forget to sit down and just be.

Taking a break from all of it, even for five minutes a day, will regularly nourish your sense of self and improve your overall wellbeing. Stepping out of the tide for a moment to focus on something else will make all the difference to your state of mind and can be infinitely rewarding. Deciding what to do with your empty minutes can be hard. What could you take time out for that will be truly, consistently fulfilling?


Every new parent will tell you that the most satisfying thing in the world is being able to love something unconditionally. But, kids are expensive and smelly and so time-consuming, so unless you’re already on the brink of having them, don’t let this change your mind. But remember that there are things that thrive on love and affection. A goldfish or a cat would be a great pet if you only have time to feed and pet them for a little while each day. If you have longer, and would enjoy a lot of love back, perhaps a dog. If you don’t have the time and money for a pet of your own, take some time out to chuck some bacon at a stray, or just give one a stroke now and again. Just try not to let them follow you home. If animals really aren’t your thing, caring for a plant of some kind can be just as rewarding. Knowing that your effort is keeping something alive and beautiful is a wonderful feeling.


It might seem like everyone else has their whole lives together, but once you look closer, they’re likely to be more messed up than you. If you don’t have long, find an Internet forum where people are asking for help and lend a consoling ear to someone who needs to talk. If you have longer, a few hours or perhaps a whole day, find somewhere in need of volunteers, and do something for the needy. Whether you want to help the sick or homeless, the young or elderly, the troubled or disabled, someone somewhere needs a hand, and there’s usually an organisation set up nearby to help you help them.


Unconditional giving can be one of the most rewarding things a person can do. Every instance reinforces the importance of separation from the material world and gives you the opportunity to do some good. If you can find the time to volunteer in a shelter or a shop, fantastic. If not, chucking a few quid into a charity box, or a homeless person’s grotty Starbucks cup, can make more difference than you ever expect.


Most importantly of all, remember that the reason you need to stop and relax is for yourself. It is all very well aspiring to be a good, giving, gracious person, but never forget that you are as special and important as anyone or anything who might need help. If you take five minutes out each day to simply be, to stretch and meditate, to reflect on your day, it can make all the difference in the world to the rest of your life. There’s no point giving so much of yourself that the rush gets harder to fight off. Remember that taking this time is about doing something that is fulfilling to you. Start a diary, take up an instrument, learn to paint; do whatever soothes your soul.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.