If you're not taking good care of yourself how do you expect to take good care of others? How are you supposed to be able to perform at a high level? One of my priorities in leading meditation sessions is to make sure there is an emphasis on self-care and self-reflection. Since so many of us fill our days with helping others or are expected to perform at a high-level, self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Unfortunately, we rarely ask ourselves what we need? How're we feeling?
Without question we are living in a time of high anxiety. It is nearly impossible to turn on a device without reading or watching something that throws us off balance. We live in a society that is so highly connected we are instantly transported to every tragic event, or faced with the next outrageous statement some political figure says. It is impossible to escape these daily events that trigger our anxiety and sometimes shake us to our core.
A big priority in most of our lives is caring for others, our family, friends, and many of us have dedicated our careers to the care of others. We dedicate so much of our lives worrying how others are doing that rarely focus ourselves. Our body, mind, and spirit require time to recover, refresh, reflect, and reboot. In meditation, we call it "the mindful pause", it's like food for the spirit.
In this overly connected world, we are pushing ourselves to find ways to de-stress, to take a time out, and to disconnect. So much of what we think we are doing to de-stress is unknowingly adding more stress and anxiety into our lives.
When you wake up in the morning what is the first thing you do? I bet most people will say reach for their phone and check e-mails, social media apps, and news. All of a sudden we go from resting to information overload, zero to overload in .3 seconds. Instead of taking a mindful pause to reflect and set the intention for the day, we flood our mind with information, a lot of it bad.
Many of us consider sitting in front of the television a stress reliever, and yes, it can be. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to escape your own reality to get lost in some tv drama, comedy, or whatever. It can be entertaining and in some ways stress relieving. What we must be careful of, if we carry a lot of stress and anxiety, is to not add more "toxic noise" into our lives. Watching a reality show where everyone is fighting or causing problems for others may be entertaining, but it's just adding more noise into your already noisy life. Caution and moderation are suggested.
What we need to do is be mindful of what we are letting into our head. Perhaps giving ourselves a technology break at certain times of the day. It is said that the average Facebook user checks their page 14 times a day. On the surface that seems like a lot but I can see how that number may be low for a lot of people. Let's say that's true and most of us sleep 8 hours a day, that means we are checking our phones almost once every hour. Now, ask yourself how many of those time are we reading a post that stirs a negative emotion. It's not just kittens, puppies, and candy crush anymore. When asked, many people say they check social media as a stress reliever from the day, but is it really relieving stress?
There is so much information out there that triggers our anxiety. From politics, to the environment, to the violence that feeds our world, and it's all laid out there on our devices. We have to recognize this and take some time to disconnect from these triggers in order to reduce our stress. A regular technology break scheduled in the day can be just what the doctor ordered.
Thinking about how social media affects our lives is one example of ways we can reflect on our triggers. We may think are de-stressing but perhaps we are triggering other stressors in our lives. Yes, we disconnected from work, but we just moved from one stressor to another. I suggest you take a look at your day-to-day activities and determine which ones bring happiness and which ones add stress. It would be awesome if we can remove all stressors from our lives, but we can't...sorry. What we can do is make sure we aren't adding more and that we are being strategic in planning our day.
If we sit down and look at our schedule, perhaps we can put a mindful pause here and there. Take a technology break once a day (or more). Schedule some time to set the intention for the day and check back on that intention every few hours. If we know we have a stressful call, a tough email to reply to, and project waiting to be completed, we can schedule them strategically throughout the day, perhaps after a mindful pause, so you can be refreshed and more focused rather than letting them pile on top of each other.
Want to see some immediate results? When reflecting on your day, think of all the negative habits or chores you have and either replace them with positive ones or schedule a positive habit to occur immediately afterwards. If you have a regular stressful event in your day or week, schedule some time to reflect immediately afterwards. It is during these times of high anxiety that we can make the most profound changes in our lives if we take the time to reflect and search for answers.
Look for new and interesting habits to try. Perhaps add a meditation class, a yoga session, or a massage into your schedule...why not all three??? I know, don't go crazy. The goal is to strategically give yourself the time to disconnect from the negative so you can reboot. Taking the time to refresh is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, the people around you, and even your boss. I know it sounds counterproductive but a 10-minute mindful pause in the middle of your day will have you performing at a higher level than you would be going through your day building up the stress. Instead of watching the clock wanting to get out of there, you'll be more focused.
Instead of trying to duck and cover from the inevitable stresses in our lives we should get better at managing them. It starts with intention and focus. Finding the time to reflect and recover is one of the best pieces of advice a coach can give you. Taking some scheduled time for you is the only way you will survive this crazy world intact. Self-care is not selfish, it's necessary. It's not about self-indulgence, it's about self-preservation.
Take some time for yourself...take a mindful pause.
If you don't know how, give me a ring, I can teach you.
What if I told you that when watching a sunset, you are actually paying more attention to the clouds, than you are to the actual sun? Would you stop for a moment and wonder what you’ve always taken in?
Is it the sunset you enjoy, or the shadows it casts? Have you stopped for a moment to figure it out?In reality, it is how you choose to see it. Perception changes, and you with it. It is not the reverse. To shift your perspective requires an influence, but despite what you hear, read or see, the viewpoint of the world surrounding you will come from within.
Yes, we listen to others: educators, politicians, salesmen or solicitors, and whether we are told that the world is flat, which automobile is the safest, or how a policy will dramatically reduce carbon emissions over the next decade, it is the personal processing of this information that will determine your ultimate answer.
We, all too often, rely on the words of others when trying to understand anything around us. Explanation involves thinking outside of yourself and considering the consequences, values and benefits. In trying to listen to the flood of information coming at you, it is assumed knowledge that will form your opinion.
What if I told you that when watching a sunset, you are actually paying more attention to the clouds, than you are to the actual sun? Would you stop for a moment and wonder what you’ve always taken in? The sun never changes (well, not in immediate terms); it burns, full power, 24 hours a day. We see it more or less, depending on where we are located in relation to the time of the year. It is us that moves and not the sun.
The sun, quite boring really, is always there; always in the same place. It’s always round, always bright, and generates radiation that is constant, and powerful enough to light up this world and any other star, planet and galaxy in the universe.As it appears to dip below the horizon at the end of each day, all those colours and the glorious view you scramble to capture on your camera or mobile device is more the result of the sun’s light reflecting and refracting through the atmosphere, precipitation or condensation, or the puffy polluted haze of our ever-expanding cities.
The view is altered, mostly by your perception. It is still the same sun it was hours earlier, it is still doing the same bloody thing, but somehow it is more beautiful.
The sun glows, alters the shade of buildings, the shadows of trees, and even makes common weeds, like dandelions, appear magical.
Perspective. It is how we see things. More importantly how we see ourselves, and how we connect with the context.Our greatest strength should be admitting we don’t know everything and being open to learning what we need to know. Change comes with knowledge, and challenging yourself comes with connecting to your soul, investigating your id and ego and, through the process, discovering your own mythos.
Seek answers, or self-explanation for who you are, and why you do what you do. Discover solutions, or check your hypothesis for why something didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to, or why success is likely, in whatever area you chose.
You can make things happen, but you need to unearth what is happening and why. Those are answers you won’t get from teachers, lawyers or policy wonks. You may not even find the answers within, but you will be stronger for looking.
The inner voice is an inner choice.