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It is well documented that we are an overworked, sleep-deprived society that is collectively suffering from an addiction to electronic devices while mental health issues escalate

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO - Jason Chaney, Managing EditorIt sure has gotten busy lately. Crook County and the rest of America his hurtling toward another election, bringing with it an onslaught of leadership decisions and initiatives to digest and consider. School has resumed along with all the hustle and bustle of homework, extracurricular activities, rushed mornings spend getting kids out the door and into the school buildings on time. There's work, there's family events, there's local fundraisers and volunteering opportunities. Put another way, there is a lot of stuff pulling us all in a variety of directions, demanding our attention — it can get a bit dizzying.

Perhaps now, more than ever, community members and folks throughout the country need to find ways to step away, take breaks and appreciate what is often taken for granted as we scramble to complete our to-do lists and indulge in our passions and hobbies.

In a recently published Central Oregonian story, a local mental health expert, speaking about the escalating instances of anxiety and depression in youth, said that the mounting expectations heaped upon youngsters played a prominent role in their struggles. Yes, achievement is rewarding and extracurricular success in sports and other realms is a worthwhile pursuit. But it can become overwhelming at the same time.

Are adults all that different — might we be worse? Forget hours — how many minutes have you spent in a good book, phone put up, TV off, mental energy removed from what still needs to get done? How much time has your spouse or your children gotten with you, face to face, free from distractions?

Looking back, life was hard. Putting food on the table meant time outdoors and honing certain skills — if you were a bad shot, you might not eat. Traveling from one town to another could take hours. The list goes on.

Now, the technological advances in life enable us to travel faster, get chores done more quickly, complete tasks with remarkable efficiency. We are more connected as a human race than at any other time in our history, more informed and aware of what is happening beyond our communities. But it has come at a cost.

It is well documented that we are an overworked, sleep-deprived society that is collectively suffering from an addiction to electronic devices while mental health issues escalate. We have forgotten how to, or chosen not to, slow down — perhaps out of fear that it will cause us to leave a task unfinished, a news story unread, a room unkempt.

Is it worth it to live this way? Is the stress and the detachment from the simple pleasures and relationships worth the income from a couple extra hours of work or consuming the latest politically charged news event?

People behave this way, but if any of them get asked what truly matters in their lives, many will give the same answers — family, good health, happiness, etc.

If those are the true values, people should behave and live according to those values. This doesn't mean abandoning responsibilities, but who among us can't honestly carve out an hour, a chunk of time to unplug from everything stretching us thin, and enjoy time with loved ones, indulge in a few quiet minutes or some moments in nature.

Now more than ever, it's worth it.

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