From Dr. Jane's Notebook

I Just Don't Have Time!

One of the most frequent comments heard today is..."But I don't have time". And, it's true. The problem is that most things we do need repeating so often (e.g. we eat three times a day, we do laundry more than once a week, etc.) that we run out of time. So a valid question is how frequently do you want to do things? And how often is our time taken up by things we would rather not do. Consider the problem of time in the context of "halflife".

Webster defines halflife as the time it takes for the disappearance of half of a substance once it is introduced... That substance may be a feeling or emotion. When we interact with other humans, different emotions are exchanged. Some are toxic, other are nurturant. We collect various feelings from different experiences and their residual effects last different lengths of time.

How long does good communication last? If we have a good conversation with someone, how long do the effects of that good conversation last? If it is with someone close to us, the halflife might tend to be fairly short because we need to communicate well with those close to us more frequently. If the conversation was held between two virtual strangers, it's effects might last a shorter period of time because it is less consequential. If the conversation was held with highly valued or famous person, its halflife may be longer; we might talk about that conversation for years.

Just how frequently do we need to exercise? Some people exercise daily. The halflife of their aerobic program may be only 24 hours before they start twitching and need to move their bodies again. For other folks, the halflife of their exercise routine may be two days, three days or more. If you want to stay in shape and reduce stress, consider your necessary interval between workout sessions in this light.

Its not how long sex lasts, its how you feel about it afterwards. Many couples are familiar with the afterglow of sexual relations that makes them feel more connected and congruent in their relationship. When they've been apart sexually, they may lose that sense of closeness and rapport, until it is renewed again through intimacy. In order to maintain the special intimacy of your relationship as a couple, consider how frequently you and your mate need to renew this bond.

How long will you hold onto that anger? When we experience conflict or feel abused, anger develops. The halflife of anger may seem particularly long. So when people choose to sweep anger under the rug, they had best be prepared to have a bumpy rug for a long time. Fortunately we have the tools for shortening the halflife of anger. Most of the time, anger can be resolved through discussion, negotiation or assertive confrontation.

How often do you play? Playfulness is another emotion that varies in the length of its halflife. Some people play on a daily basis, while other haven't played in years. Some play sports or card games on a regular basis, others are playful by their very nature. Some folks stopped playing years ago and never found a way to play as an adult.

In considering the well-roundedness of your life, you may want to consider the above ingredients... and how long they last.

ęCopyright, 1993, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

Return to Personal Growth

Return to Stress Management

Return to Table of Contents

Last Updated October 25, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.