May 5, 2017 • 5 minute read • by Saeed
“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.” ~ Unknown
Companies have strategic plans so why not you?
Here is the brutal truth about modern day life: On a typical day, you are air traffic control for dozens of conversations, meetings, decisions, tasks, and thoughts that fly through your head seeking refuge or resolution. Unless you’re an a-emotional Mr. Spock type, that’s a recipe for burnout and disaster. That’s a recipe for an impending crash.
If life has become an exhausting and giant game of wackamole, know that it will take its toll. Stress causes deterioration in everything ranging from your relationships to your hairline. To make matters worse, modern technology has created unprecedented convenience but also co-dependence. We are tethered to technology in ways that cause, not alleviate anxiety.
Elon Musk wants to give us all relief from the congested streets above, through underground traffic tunnels below. Finding refuge and relief from the daily congestion of life is a good metaphor for the need to unplug.
Here is the brutal truth about change: The secret to change is in whether or not the new behavior or habit is sustainable. Life is a matter of making progress in small steps, not giant leaps. Tiny steps are sustainable and they add up to a net positive cumulative result.
So before you’re no longer resembling something human, go analogue and go small in order to go big.
Start your day this way. The benefits of a meditation practice have been scientifically proven. It’s not esoteric. It’s just exercise for the mind. Don’t stress about meditation. Just think of it as five or ten minutes a day to simply witness your thoughts and experience first-hand how noisy it is up there. Practice focus. Learn about your mind.
- Sit and listen
Find it hard to meditate? Take a smaller step. Close your eyes and sit and listen to all the sounds nearby. Don’t think anything just notice. Then slowly move your perception out farther and farther picking up sounds just outside, traffic maybe, and then a train off in the distance. See how far you can tune in. This exercise will open up pathways in your thinking and quiet the noise that’s around you. It’s also the preamble to a solid meditation practice.
- Do some yoga (or skip the posing and just stretch)
I know you’re tired of hearing about yoga but there is a reason that yoga philosophy has lasted thousands of years and has countless disciples. Numerous studies have documented the potent health benefits of yoga on a myriad of ailments. Yoga has many parts to it – meditation, breathing, stretching and strengthening. How can it not be good for you?
- Take ‘nano’ vacactions
How many times have you been on a long vacation only to find yourself working in the middle of it? Research has found that frequent short breaks are better than long vacations. So try using your accumulated time off in bursts instead of spending it as a big wad. You’ll be happier and more productive. The bonus of short vacs is that it’s also easier to unplug your computer, phone, TV, toddler and so on.
- Get your art on
This is catharsis through art. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be good. Set up an area in your office with paint and canvas or crayons and paper if you have to – the idea is to unplug and do something creative – try not to be bound to electronics. Think it sounds silly? Try watching a preschooler drawing. Watch how they are lost in the moment. This is an ideal medium for escape from the daily grind.
Get in the habit of free flow journaling. Do it once in the morning and once at night for 5 minutes. In the morning, write down what you’re looking forward to. What challenges do you anticipate? How do you see yourself dealing with them? In the evening, do a retrospective of your day. What worked? What could have gone better? What lessons did you learn? You will soon notice many new insights into how you can be more effective and you will have a document of your improvements.
- Take a hike
Are you not amazed at the healing power of nature? A forest full of eucalyptus – smell it. Salt water ocean breeze – feel it. The trickle of a stream – hear it. It’s all good for you. It’s your natural environment. It’s where you belong. It’s healing. Trust me.
- Take a walk
Can’t hike? Exercise of any kind boosts endorphins and promotes good health. Have you given yourself an impossible exercise routine? That’s why you are not doing it. Try walking for 30 minutes each day instead. It’s actually all you need to do.
- Release tension through progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is one of my favorite techniques that you can do in a meeting or from your desk. Start with your toes and work your way up tightening and relaxing each muscle as you go until you get to your face. Do it every day at some point during the day. Your body will thank you for releasing all that tension.
- Build a good sleep habit
End your day this way. Busy people just neglect their sleep but maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule is paramount to good health. Don’t eat a large meal before you go to bed, have a relaxing bath, and cut down on caffeine because your behaviors during the day can impact how you sleep at night. Most importantly, unplug your phone, your computer and your TV. Screen time stimulates the brain and makes it harder to relax and wind down before bed. Healthy sleep habits are the cornerstone of a healthy and relaxed mind that can cope effectively with the inevitable stressors life throws your way.
Live long. Prosper.
©2017 – All Content and photography by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.
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Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other most recent post on how to be successful when you are new on the job.