Most of the time we don’t realize the wealth of knowledge we hold in our brain. I don’t know about you, but before I made a conscious decision to slow down and practice the daily “art” of relaxing, meditating/praying, and writing in a journal, when I was away from work or life stresses, whether it was riding in the car 12 hours to the beach, taking a morning walk, or kayaking on the lake, and I wasn’t constantly thinking about day-to-day events, schedules, or what was supposed to happen next, my mind was as clear as a blue sky on a crisp, fall morning.
It wasn’t intentional, but it was times like this when my brain started thinking of a hundred chores we kept putting off at the house, how I could reorganize my office, or what half marathon or physical challenge could I train for next… Some people call it a brain dump; I don’t really have a name for it. I can only tell you when it happened I would start laughing, look at my husband and say, “Boy, you are going to be sorry I have some time off.”
I honestly believe it’s because I was relaxed, I felt free, and I wasn’t distracted. During this time, the pen started filling the paper from top to bottom with all the ideas I had bottled up for who knows how long. The point is, none of us should wait until we’re on our way to vacation or enjoying a walk or kayaking on the lake to clear our brain.
I’ve always known there is a better way and try as I might, I never disciplined myself to follow through on making relaxation and unwinding a daily routine. Rewind five months ago, I had rotator cuff surgery and during my recovery I made it a priority to sit back, relax, and open my mind to healing; period. What did I learn from this? It really is #funnynotfunny when you commit to relax, meditate/pray, and journal, all the information floating around in your head comes out on a daily basis and not only when you’re enjoying time off with family/friends or taking time to yourself.
The point I’m trying to make is most of us are already familiar with what to do to open our mind and why it’s important; it’s putting it into a daily routine so it becomes a habit and we don’t have think about doing it; it just happens.
Do you struggle to relax; to let go of tension or anxiety? A poll by the American Psychological Association stated, “Most Americans are suffering from moderate to high stress, with 44 percent reporting their stress levels have increased over the past five years.” People are anxious about paying bills, keeping their family/self safe, and staying healthy, to name a few.
Another statistic reported in the New York Post stated it takes Americans the first four days of their vacation before they finally start to relax? Really? If you don’t have the luxury of two weeks off for vacation you’re only left with three days before it’s time to go home and back to the grind of work.
I read a few years ago about Europeans and the amount of vacation time they take (good for them!) and for this blog I wanted to verify the information about people in the United States and their vacation time and it’s still a fact today… CNBC.com states, “the United States is the only country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that does not mandate paid vacation. Research shows many Americans who receive paid time off are afraid to take it because of workplace pressures.” There is something definitely wrong with this picture.
Most European countries take four weeks of vacation off during the summer and “it turns out the European vacation mindset could actually help boost productivity,” again noted by CNBC.com. Why wouldn’t United States businesses want to boost their productivity and provide vacation or more vacation time for their employees and instead of pressuring them not to take time off encourage employees to take time off?
One sad fact I also noted is some people don’t even unplug on vacation. People, life is too short. Nothing is so important it can’t be let go of for a week or two. Nothing!
I’m a Type A, competitive, anxious person and it takes a lot for me to relax. Since surgery, I make it a point every day to find time. Here are some of my favorite ways to relax:
- Walking – yes, I walk my dog, with my best friend, my husband, or I walk by myself and listen to music. It’s great for raising endorphins, burning some calories, and guess what… decreasing tension in your shoulders, controlling your breathing, and chances are losing some weight.
- Swimming – oh, the pool. I could live at the pool. Tread water, take part in a water aerobics class, swim laps… when you finish exercising at the pool read a book and chill in a chair.
- Dancing – I love the saying, “Dance Like No One Is Watching.” Put on some music and dance around your house.
- Read, sing, watch TV… You following me?
Find something you love to do, put it on your calendar and do it; make time to relax. Take your mind off everything; you’ll be glad you did. What are some ways you like to relax?
I am the first one to say the journey to meditating is not easy, but yes, now even I take time every day to meditate. The wandering mind of Colleen commits to meditation/prayer at least five minutes a day. It may not seem like much, but Dan Harris, co-anchor of Good Morning America weekend edition, and author of the book, “10% Happier” and podcast and meditation app of the same name, says meditating for one minute a day can be beneficial because it’s a start for people who are skeptical of the practice, but doing so
- makes you aware of the buzz within your own mind;
- helps you create a habit; and
- over time you’ll more than likely increase the time you spend meditating.
There’s a million apps out there you, all types of practitioners and different types of meditation you can try, books to read, etc., but again, it’s about clearing your mind, taking the time, and making the practice a daily habit. Do you make time to meditate or pray on a daily basis? If not, why? Start with one minute, one. Doing so will definitely stop the buzzing in your head and if nothing else, one minute of a peaceful mind is something.
When you take the time to sit back so you can relax and meditate/pray, your mind will clear, and whether it’s for your personal life or for your business, the wealth of information rolling around in your head is free; your brain isn’t cluttered. Thus, this creates an atmosphere for you to write down your thoughts and plans for whatever you want to do – write your book, plan a course or workshop, or create a calendar to complete those house chores.
This is only going to work if you make the time to fit it into your schedule. For example, if you decide morning works better for you and you choose to walk then meditate, your mind is clear when you’re finished and this is the best time to unleash your expertise onto the paper and write for an hour on your book or plan the outline for your course or workshop. What about the speech you’re preparing for the keynote you’re giving in three months? It’s easier for you to write because your mind is unobstructed. Your expertise is ready to flow out because your brain isn’t cluttered with what to do next, what bills to pay, what do the kids need today…?
In closing, the best advice I can give you is schedule time each day to relax, meditate/pray, and journal so when you have time off you aren’t thinking about everything you need to do at the house or at the office because you’ve been making those decisions on a daily basis. Since you’re doing it all along every day when you are away you can sit back, relax, and take time to be open to your family and yourself! It works both ways!
Until next time,