Living the Hectic Life

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.
Columns like the one I wrote last week–about the necessity of not being engaged solely in sedentary activity for the majority of the day–make me think about the hectic schedules we create for ourselves based on a never ending list of things to do. Exercise, eat well, study hard, play hard (or, maybe don’t), look presentable, clean your room, and remain on speaking terms with your siblings–do it all in twenty four hours, everyday, every week. The list of things to do seems to start extending during the teen years only to explode in size when teens finally transition to adulthood.

I remember actually having the time to feel bored just a few short years ago. Now, I view activities like browsing the Globe&Mail on the weekend as wasting time and constantly lament my periods of inefficiency, despite the fact that I have 1000, 10000 or heck, maybe Avogadro’s number raised to the power of 10 times less periods of inefficiency (obviously, I’m exaggerating–greatly. I have improved though.). Before someone launches into a lecture about time management or some other overly idealistic concept (just kidding), let me assure you that there is a limit to being always on the ball–it’s commonly known as perfection. At some point after a string of productive days, the need for a reprieve hits you and bam! the next thing you know, you’ve accomplished next to nothing (except for conversing, reading random publications lying around the house like week-old copies of the T&T or surfing the web) for four hours straight.
When looking at the big picture, you realize that an afternoon off isn’t the end of the world when you work hard the rest of the time. A National Geographic article I read not too long ago (while taking a break from reading my analytical chemistry notes in the morning before school, of course) reported that research suggests that young adults’ brains are prone to take on gruelling challenges (or put us into situations that prove challenging–the explanation for teenage procrastination) to help them learn as much as possible during the time in their life when they have the abundance of energy necessary to bounce back from newbie mistakes. Thus, to-do lists become increasingly lengthy and even when time is short, young adults keep ploughing ahead, pushing themselves to learn and grow in a multitude of ways.
The urge to explore the real world can sometimes cause young people to forget all the good habits they learned previously: university freshmen gain their famous fifteen pounds thanks to convenience food and their dorm rooms are reminiscent of the aftermath of a tornado, far from the tidy primary colour themed alcoves found in their childhood homes. Unfortunately, slacking on some old practices–like exercise and balanced meals– can lead to problems in the long run. In a province undergoing a wellness crisis, how can conscientious but already thoroughly challenged young adults resist the lull of a time-saving but disaster-brewing life style involving abandonment of healthy meals, invigorating workouts, and sleep?
It’s hard. The only solution I’ve been able to come up with learning to regard it as a high priority to-do list item and reminding myself that in the long run, wellness helps efficiency thrive. Then, discipline can kick in to get the job done. Discipline seems to characterize responsible adult life and it may be one of the toughest life lessons for teens to learn–the only way to learn it is to exercise it, time and time again, keeping the reason for its application in mind.
Originally published in the Times & Transcript on November 5th, 2011.
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