‘Slow down,' say U of G professors, health professionals
Members of the University of Guelph and the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit are working together to host a series of events Oct. 17 to 24 to encourage people to find ways to make more time for themselves and their families. The local initiative, called "It's About Time," is affiliated with the international Oct. 24 "Take Back Your Time Day."
According to Statistics Canada, 85 per cent of employed parents with a child under the age of 12 feel rushed every day. "The most time-crunched group are married parents from 25 to 44 years of age," said family relations professor Kerry Daly. "Men report working on average 49 hours per week; women, 39 hours per week."
"I think Guelph is similar to a lot of cities," said family relations professor John Beaton. "We have so many activities going on, we're so busy, we're running from one thing to the next, we're trying to be as efficient as possible. I think we need to slow down, so we're really hoping people will come to the events to contribute strategies for taking time back in their day for themselves."
The four planned events are free and open to the public. On Oct. 17, Daly will present "The Politics of Time in Our Everyday Worlds: Who Controls Your Time?" at noon at the Homewood Health Centre. Because lunch is provided, participants must register by calling 824-1010, Ext. 118. "More control over time is not always the solution," said Daly. "Sometimes it contributes to the malaise because the more we control and manage time, the more we can end up doing. It's equally important to learn to surrender to time since a lot of the important things that happen in our lives are unpredictable."
On Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Bookshelf Greenroom, he will facilitate a conversation café facilitated that will allow people to share frustrations and strategies for coping with the lack of time. "The idea of a ‘conversation café' is to shift from giving talks to the community to inviting the community to participate in a discussion. It's really grassroots activism. The solutions and the direction of the conversation will be driven by the participants."
On Oct. 22, an interactive improvisational comedy titled Tech and Time: the Irony, the Agony and the Comedy of Technology begins at noon in Room 103 of the University Centre.
On Oct. 24, U of G ecumenical minister Lucy Reid will host an open house from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 533 of the University Centre for people wishing to learn meditation techniques. "Spirituality is about timelessness," said Reid. "Every faith tradition has some form of teaching and practice of meditation: the art of learning how to be in the spaciousness of the present moment, without rushing ahead into the future mentally or physically. This workshop will help people take back their time by creating a period of timelessness."
Jan Craig, the healthy lifestyles program manager with the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit, said she was eager to get involved in the "It's About Time" initiative because lack of time can have serious health implications. A national study conducted for Health Canada found that 59 per cent of employees in 2001 reported feeling overloaded with work. That's up 12 per cent since 1991. There was also an 18-per-cent increase in the amount of paid and unpaid work from 1981 to 1998.
"We know that our overworked, overscheduled lives are bad for our health," said Craig. "And when you ask people why they live on a high-fat fast-food diet or why they don't build regular exercise into their lives, they'll tell you that it comes down to time. We're too busy living quickly to live healthily."
"It's About Time" is sponsored by the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, U of G's Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being and the Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Health Unit.
Beaton and other co-ordinating team members are asking people to e-mail strategies for taking back time to email@example.com. Suggestions will be posted on the event website: www.uoguelph.ca/~time.
Prof. John Beaton
Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 56336, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit
(519) 821-2370, Ext. 2248, or email@example.com
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.