Feeling Stressed Out? Get Back to Nature

forest

It’s easy to get absorbed in the day to day of your life. You get up, go to work, come home, do your evening routine, and then it’s time for bed. Do this over and over, and soon you’ll feel as if you’re just a cog in the machine. This is amplified when the view from your window is a concrete jungle, your commute is typified by trains packed to the breaking point or traffic jams that go on for hours. There must be an escape from that insanity, a way to be more connected and alive.

No matter where you live, there’s most likely nature nearby. Getting out into nature provides an opportunity to recharge your batteries and ease your nerves. In fact, there are so many benefits to getting out in nature that making it a part of your weekly routine is essential to creating and maintaining good mental health.

Getting yourself out into nature will help you to refocus, relax and realign yourself to who you are and your greater purpose. After all, you are more than just a cog in the machine that gets a day or two of rest before you have to go out and do it all over again.


According to a 2019 study by Matthew White, getting out in nature for as little as a couple of hours each week can have powerful health benefits. Those benefits include: reduced stress and anxiety, better physical and mental health, and increased cognitive power. No special skills required. Just get outside and experience nature around you.


About 10 years before this study came out, I produced a video podcast called Relaxation Media. The purpose of these video programs was to give the viewer a few minutes of calming nature on their smartphone or computer and to simulate the feel of being out in nature. I believed then, as I do now that experiencing nature even virtually, has healing qualities. The podcast ended up becoming the #1 video podcast for wellness worldwide with thousands of downloads of each episode.


Today you can put on a pair of VR goggles and become immersed in a nature experience that’s so realistic your brain will actually believe you are outside. While this is a good way to reset, it’s even better to physically explore nature in your own area. Smell the trees, the grass, and the flowers. Hear the different bird calls and the gently flowing stream, if your park or recreational area has one. Even watching people play with their dogs and children will help to bring about a feeling of serenity.


Here are seven activities you can do to touch nature regularly:
1. Mindful Observation
Sit on a bench or somewhere that you can be still for some time. Then, just watch your surroundings. Listen to the sounds and tune into the smells around you. Experience it all. You don’t need to analyze or think about anything. Just be in the moment, a living part of the habitat. Breath deeply and feel.


At first, this will be extremely difficult. You may be able to mindfully observe your surroundings for only a few moments before reaching for your phone, wanting to take a picture, or otherwise disengage from the situation. Keep practicing and soon you’ll be focusing for 5, 10, 20, even 30-minutes at a time, just you and the nature surrounding you.


As I was sitting on a bench one afternoon, three lizards, a large spider, a centipede, and five different kinds of birds all stopped by to visit. These are things I never would have experienced if I’d had my face in my phone or been walking. Sitting still and letting nature come to you will reveal pleasant surprises.


2. Blind Emersion
For this exercise, close your eyes and let your other senses guide your experience. What do you hear? Is it approaching or receding? Which way is the wind blowing? How does the air smell? Touch the ground and just experience it, don’t label it. Just feel. This heightening of the senses brings me back to simpler days of playing in the park and letting my imagination run free. I hope it does the same for you.


3. Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku)
In this Japanese practice, all you need to do is take a walk in nature and immerse yourself in the environment. Notice the terrain, plants, and wildlife you encounter as you walk. As above, soon you’ll have a sense that you’re connected to the environment surrounding you. That feeling provides both power and serenity.


4. Explore A New Natural Area Near You
If you are well acquainted with one park or natural area near you, look for another one that is close by. Set a date and time to explore this new area. That can make it feel like you’re going on a new adventure. What’s even better, if you have a friend that also likes being out in nature arrange to meet them there. Then you can enjoy the outdoors together. This is a great opportunity to strengthen your bond.


5. Sketch
Regardless of your artistic ability, sketching requires you to really observe your subject to capture its essence on paper. Whether you sketch the landscape, or the grass under your feet. Drawing your experience will help you to connect to nature t and experience a personal relationship with it.


6. Journal about your outdoor experiences
If you don’t like sketching, you can also do a bulleted journal about what you’re observing in your outdoor environment. How do you feel when you’re outside? What animals, insects, plants are you seeing? Are you seeing any people regularly? You may be inspired to write poetry or explore other creative outlets while you’re in nature too. Many of the greatest poets, writers and musical artists throughout history were inspired by nature.


7. Observation Over Time
If you visit the same spot on a regular basis, you’ll begin to recognize subtle changes. Noticing the differences from month to month and season to season is an experience you’ll carry with you. That recognizable ambiance is something that you can recall through meditation whenever you need mental or emotional realignment.


Tying it all together
Touching nature will increase your peace of mind, and it only takes a few minutes a day to engage with your surroundings. Whether you head to nearby open spaces or out to your own backyard, taking some time to connect with nature will help you to understand yourself and your environment in ways that are engaging and empowering.

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Live your life with purpose

Living a life of purpose makes it worth celebrating. It creates wealth that can never be taken away. Living with purpose gives you a reason to get out of bed every morning and leaves you feeling content as you lay your head down on your pillow each night.

Though, you may find it difficult to focus in on what you are meant to contribute in your lifetime. Finding purpose is something important, and you can discover yours by listening for your calling or creating yourself.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

Listen to Your Environment

What were you born to do? Finding purpose from what comes naturally and in areas which you excel at puts you a step ahead. You may feel the need to deny these skills and abilities because they make you stand out from your peers. Don’t!

You were born to be special. Your natural talents are actually just a starting point. They give you opportunities to move beyond the norm and achieve unbelievable success if you are bold enough to embrace that.

Many times in sports the best players not only have the most ability but also the strongest work ethic. They are the ones who show up early and stay late. These players work with private coaches during the off season to get 1% better, knowing that those gains move them from great to all-stars and Hall of Fame level careers. If you are willing to put in the work, you can become spectacular too.

What comes easy for you?

There are things you do easily, and often dismissed as not a big deal, that are difficult for others to accomplish. Consider how you can use those abilities to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Find steps to expand and develop these talents.

What do you like to do?

Consider some things you like to do and how you can make an impact through those. Maybe you are like me, a generalist as opposed to a specialist. I dabble in many areas from music to neuroscience with just a sliver of knowledge in a variety of areas. This joy for education helps me to understand situations and people in novel ways that few others see. I can then transfer information taken from one source and apply it to another. Helping bridge gaps for others.

Is there a purpose hiding in your past?

While traumatic experiences create memories that you would rather forget, you have survived a harrowing experience. As you ponder, why me? Consider what you can do to find a sense of purpose that takes you out of that unpleasantness and into an opportunity to aid others who may find themselves in similar situations to your own.

Your horrific experience is not the end of your life, just a chapter of it. Now discover what comes next and unlock the amazing powers that have been growing inside of you, waiting for the opportunity to be utilized.

Such was the case with Louis Braille, who lost his sight at the age of three. Frustrated by the lack of written knowledge available to those that could not see, he invented the Braille writing system by the age of 15.

Despite the system not being utilized in his lifetime, he continued to perfect it for uses in music, science and mathematics, textbooks, popular writing and correspondence. His system is still used around the world today as the de facto international written communication standard for the blind.

You may be like Louis Braille, finding the strength and purpose in your life through survival. Look those life altering experiences in the face. Then find the courage to make a difference in your life and the lives of others.

If you are finding it difficult to surmount those experiences, take a deep breath and do what you can to put the past behind you. What’s done is done, it’s history. Focus on today, and how you can build yourself a brighter tomorrow.

Sometimes it's just a matter of serendipity

If you have been fortunate enough to find talent and purpose through a serendipitous experience, such as a friend’s suggestion to try a new activity, or perhaps you stumbled on a fresh idea that has meaning for you in a video, article, or class, take the time to deeply explore these opportunities and the life changing effect success in one of these areas could have for you.

This is how I got started in writing. A friend suggested I try writing for an audience, and it has given me a way to share ideas and experiences with more people than I could have ever imagined. It’s possible that you are being guided towards a life changing contribution too.

Above all, listen. Regardless of how it got there, a desire to contribute is sprouting inside of you, and it is up to you to discover and nurture that.

When all else fails, create your own purpose

If you have difficulty finding purpose in your life through listening to your environment and past experiences, you can manufacture it.

Consider how you want to contribute and go for it. Take action every day or week, no matter how small. As you make progress, you will gain momentum. That force will help you through the slow times when you feel like your contributions are insignificant and a waste of time. They are neither. Sometimes the steps and success are visible and rewarding, and other times life is just a grind.

As you work to make contributions, take some time to get the bird’s-eye view. Stop and reflect on your journey. That will help you understand the next few steps forward. Don’t be afraid to readjust your methods and goals. With the clearer vision you have after you have gotten down the road a bit, you can chart more effective future steps.

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.

Summary

Reacquaint yourself with those experiences where you felt you had made a difference, even in the smallest of ways. Then focus on how you can continue to have an impact by taking action one step at a time. In these ways, your life will have a definite purpose.

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When your emotions talk, are you listening?

man person people emotions

Get to know your emotions

Your emotions are a set of powerful tools. Abraham-Hicks, best selling author of The Law of Attraction, calls this your emotional GPS. Experiencing emotions warns you of dangers, draws you into pleasant experiences and triggers an increasingly wide variety of responses that continues to grow as you understand your emotions and what they are trying to tell you.

According to Joshua Freedman, the CEO and founder of Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network, there are approximately 3,000 words for describing emotions in the English language. If you do not have an adequate emotion lexicon, you will naturally lump the description of your feelings into categories too small to effectively express what you are experiencing. One way to build your vocabulary of emotions is to use the Plutchik Wheel of Emotions.

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

How to use Plutchick's Wheel of Emotions

Using the emotions wheel to identify emotions starts with understanding the eight base emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust. Each of these has an opposite. Anticipation is the opposite of surprise. Joy is opposite sadness. Trust and disgust are opposites, and fear opposes anger. As you look at the wheel, emotions are identified across a scale. There are names for the different intensities of these feelings. For example, on the scale moving from sadness to joy we would experience pensiveness, sadness, grief, serenity, joy and ecstasy. You may have feelings of optimism and love in happier moments, while emotions like remorse and disapproval could be linked to those times you are feeling down. The wheel identifies 32 emotional states, using synonyms and antonyms that will bring your emotion vocabulary to well over 100 expressions, which is more than enough to start taking an emotional inventory.

Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are a method of communication between your nervous system, your body and your conscious mind.

Using the emotions wheel to identify emotions starts with understanding the eight base emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust. Each of these has an opposite. Anticipation is the opposite of surprise. Joy is opposite sadness. Trust and disgust are opposites, and fear opposes anger. As you look at the wheel, emotions are identified across a scale. There are names for the different intensities of these feelings. For example, on the scale moving from sadness to joy we would experience pensiveness, sadness, grief, serenity, joy and ecstasy. You may have feelings of optimism and love in happier moments, while emotions like remorse and disapproval could be linked to those times you are feeling down. The wheel identifies 32 emotional states, using synonyms and antonyms that will bring your emotion vocabulary to well over 100 expressions, which is more than enough to start taking an emotional inventory.

Now that you have internalized definitions of emotions and a scale for their level of intensity, you can identify what you are feeling in a nuanced way, not just in the extreme moments, but also in a wider variety of situations. Using the levels of intensity from above, you can now take an emotional inventory with the help of a journal or note taking app. This is an ideal way to document what’s going on inside of you. According to Harvard neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, unfueled emotions only last only 90 seconds, so you’ll need to increase your ability to identify them quickly.

Listen to your emotions

The value in identifying emotions is not just in those 90 seconds when they are the most intense. It’s what you do after that really counts. Emotions are the trigger point. Considering what caused the emotion is almost as important as what you do once you have experienced that feeling. Intensifying or diluting is up to you.

Emotions used to give us two options: fight or flight. Today, however, there are many more options for responding to emotional signals. For example, we might need to consider a response, ask a question, or quickly invent a solution. By capturing the emotion, then pausing to consider how you will respond, you are becoming emotionally intelligent.

There are however, real dangers to just sweeping those feelings under the rug. A failure to recognize and effectively work through your emotions leads to high levels of stress, depression and a wide range of physical and mental health problems. You can’t fix a problem until you recognize it. Understanding emotions is vital to your ability to diagnose problems and reproduce pleasant experiences as well.

Respond to your emotions

It is important to realize that the discomfort that comes from emotions is not a bad thing. It helps move you to another action. Emotions that you consider to be negative could be alerting you to a high level of risk or that you need to have more information about a situation before responding.

As scientists and emotional intelligence practitioners learn more about these sensations, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these feelings are a means of our nervous system communicating with our conscious minds. As a result, it makes more sense to read emotions as non-verbal messages and respond to them. Instead of reacting immediately to the stimuli. Once you experience an emotion, stop and think about what to do with that information before acting.

There are approximately 3,000 words for describing emotions in the English language.

You will find that your responses are much more beneficial to your well-being when you add this cognitive step to your process. In fact, you may find that the energy created by a bad feeling can be redirected in a positive direction. Redirection creates momentum that moves you towards your target at a force greater than complaining and anger ever will. I call this the catapult effect. Basically, the catapult effect states that if you first react negatively to an emotion, you need to get back to zero before you can move in a positive direction. But by processing the emotion intellectually (at zero) and creating a viable solution, you can create positive momentum that will catapult you forward towards your desired results. You can read more about my theory here.

Emotions are neither good nor bad

Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are a method of communication between your nervous system, your body and your conscious mind. By widening your emotional lexicon you will more effectively identify your emotions, and be able to interpret with greater clarity the messages your nervous system is providing you. Then you can devise solutions that are intelligent and effective, advancing you in a direction that benefits your well being.

The best way to get a clear picture of your emotional intelligence is by taking an Emotional Quotient (EQ) test. Here is a free one from Mind Tools that will get you started. What is your EQ?

Limiting your Limiting Beliefs in Japan

Light is what we are; we all come from the divine source that created the universe. As we descend upon this world, we carry an essence filled with purity and playfulness. Perfection is what we are, and we bring joy into the world. As we grow older, darkness surrounds us and limits our beliefs and goals with the excuse of protection. The little girl who dreams about being an astronaut is bombarded with judgments and criticism. To achieve your dreams, you have to limit your limiting beliefs in Japan.

The little boy who wants to be an actor gets told by their parents that acting is not a real job and that he should study something that would bring him more financial possibilities such as being an engineer or a programmer. Darkness is real, darkness grounds us, but if you stare into the abyss for too long, you will become it. You will embody that darkness and drag people down with you. Say a unique idea at a party, and they’ll try to shush you.

Come up with a new marketing plan for your company, and your boss will put you down. Did someone tell you that you were not good enough? Who crushed your dreams? Were you the young artists who were told that art was dumb?

Reconnecting

Our journey on this planet consists of us reconnecting with the divine source that gave us life in the first place. To embody a place full of abundance, consciousness, Creativity, and optimism, which is what we had when we were kids: a head full of dreams. Gratitude is something beautiful that I get when I meet successful and creative people.

They are the children who did not give up on their vision—the kids who pushed the haters away and found a way to materialize their passion. Successful athletes, entrepreneurs, and artists are the ones who transmute all the darkness that they get from society into light and vision.

We are born from light, corrupted by filters of limiting beliefs as we grow, and then if you are conscious enough, you will go back into that source of divine light. Was the filter that you see the world created by you, or did it came to life through other people’s limiting beliefs and fears?

In order to become successful in, you have to limit your limiting beliefs in Japan.

Scarcity

When we are born into this world, we are blank canvases, crystal clear water. We are born without fears, limitations, or judgments. Children just live in the present moment and dream with no restrictions. When we start growing up, we absorb all of our parents’ fears, and we grow up with a scarcity mindset. We start comparing ourselves to other people, and to conform to the status quo, we cut our metaphorical creative wings and become part of the Herd, a group of people with broken dreams who won’t let other people get their dreams since they could not achieve their own.

To adapt and protect us, our mind starts creating filters of scarcity, which will stop us from becoming our ideal selves. As we become company workers, our scarcity mindset is at full throttle, and we shoot down any person who acts differently from the rest. “Creativity? That is too much work.” “Taking risks? That is too dangerous.” 

Since scarcity becomes part of our lives, we start to have a distorted sense of reality. There are a limited amount of jobs and a limited amount of opportunities. Only the lucky ones can rise to the top, and the rest of us need to survive like the Hunger Games. Other common limiting beliefs are: “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not an expert yet, I cannot charge the price I want to charge to my client,” and many more. I would say that most of the people living on this planet have this mindset. The reality is that once you change how you look at things, the things you look at change.

Someone who knows how to limit their limiting beliefs in Japan, would see a world of abundance with infinite possibilities and opportunities.

Abundance and Faith

In Exodus, Moses was told by God to go to Egypt and free his people. Perplexed by God’s command, he asked him how an ordinary shepherd could accomplish such a task. God replied: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” If you a divine force behind you, a conviction, the universe, why would you not have a mindset of abundance?

Having a mindset of wealth is much more than seeing things differently, is it having the belief that no matter how tough things get or how dark the world becomes, you will come out on top. People who have this way of thinking, start searching within, and find their true calling. By finding themselves and what they are truly good at, they can develop a unique brand around their talents and become what we call “a Unicorn.”

If you are a teacher in an 英会話 or a recruiter in a big firm, you are easily replaceable. However, how can you replace someone like Kanye West? Joe Rogan or Elon Musk? You cannot because they build a brand around their God-given gifts. If you are an English teacher and develop a niche brand around your services, start a YouTube Channel or podcast and develop a story behind what you do, you will be irreplaceable and unstoppable. That’s why influencers are so popular because they bring their own flavor into the mix. Instead of complaining about not being able to find a job, go do your own thing.

Start creating content around the things that you like and share it with the world through social media. Go out there and get what’s yours! Do not let other people’s limiting beliefs distort your reality, you are the master of your destiny and the captain of your soul.

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4 Tips for Taking Control of Your Life

Why Do You Need Art 

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Why Do You Need Art

Van Gough Irises

The other night I caught Gillian Anderson in A StreetCar Named Desire from London’s National Theater on YouTube. During the COVID 19 lockdown they, and other theater companies across the globe, are presenting different plays from their archives every week. Watching Ms. Anderson’s performance as Blanche Dubois made me really appreciate the artistry that goes into live performances. It was a pleasant reminder that art is a deep level of communication that we rarely get in the world around us.

Watching Blanche transform from a woman down on her luck to one experiencing a psychotic breakdown, I could feel the depth of emotion that Ms. Anderson poured into that performance. I could not only see but also empathetically sense the triggers that sent Blanche past the point of no return, and the role that each of the pivotal characters had on her descent.

The performance brought to the forefront how we, knowingly or unknowingly, affect the lives of others. This play wasn’t just about a house disrupted by neurosis. It was also a reminder of the role we all play in the lives of others. Art helps us to consider such questions and get in touch with our emotions.

Rather than looking for distraction and a world far from reality, art gives you the opportunity to explore your own feelings and build your skills of understanding the thoughts and feelings of others. It gives you access to experiencing the pure emotions the artist is sharing. Surgi Rachmaninoff said that music is communication from the heart of the musician to the listener. No need for language to dilute the emotion. 

No musician epitomizes this more than Pat Metheny. Watching and listening to him play guitar, you feel he is reaching out and sending you joy with every note and chord he plays. He and his band give you a bath of exhilaration as you experience the emotion that goes into every bar of a tune, not just from him but every member of the band as well. Like in this clip of As It Is.

Paintings and sculptures can affect you in a similar way, if you take the time to let them infuse you. Consider your mental and emotional impressions. Art may even give you a physical response such as shying away from or drawing you into it. Let the artwork wash over you. Think about what the artist and their art is saying to you. Consider their state of mind as they worked on their creations for days, weeks, months and sometimes even years. What compelled them to share this image from the thousands they had in their mind? 

On a visit to the Getty Museum in California, I saw a woman looking at Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises with opera glasses. At first this seemed odd. That is one manic art lover, I thought to myself. Later, as I considered the scene, it dawned on me that she wanted to ingest every stroke and fine detail in Van Gogh’s work.

Maybe she was imagining him putting oil to canvas, in the field and then in his studio as he recalled the image from his mind. Perhaps she wanted to connect with the emotion he was feeling as he intricately detailed each leaf and petal. Perhaps she wanted to imprint those strokes and the finished painting in her mind as a living experience. Like with theater and music, the painting was delivering a message to her directly, from the artist’s heart to her own. This deep appreciation made her one with the painter as she interacted with his masterpiece.

Van Gough Irises

Rather than just considering art a pleasant diversion from your daily life, take the opportunity to interact with it deeply and intimately. Experiencing these works on an emotional level and considering what the artist’s heart is communicating to you will leave you with a new perspective and a lasting impression that you can relive over and over again. 

This article originally appeared on Medium

The Power of Silence

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Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. – Wayne Dyer

Overstimulation is a big problem in today’s switched on, tuned in, and notification distracted world. It’s enough to make you blow a fuse. In fact, as Dr. Dyer’s quote above implies, you need silence to be creative, find your voice, and maintain your mental health. In their 2013 study, Is Silence Golden?  Imke Kirste, Zeina Nicola et al. found that neurons actually increase with prolonged exposure to silence. That means, to a degree, you get smarter and reduce the risk of mental illness as you improve your ability to use silence.

When your mind is receiving so many inputs that there is little time for processing information. The result is your mental filters cannot function correctly, and you begin to lose your sense of self. Quietly sitting in reflection, even for a few moments, can help you to process the situation, your options for solving problems, and makes you more creative too.

Be alone — that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born. – Nikola Tesla

Stillness has the power to focus you in on the moment, on dreams and possibilities, allowing you to more deeply understand your environment, the situation, and your place within those. That stillness helps you to find balance in an otherwise chaotic world.

Silence is also a great communication tool. In a negotiation, for instance, silence after an initial offer may lead your less skilled counterpart to think you are unhappy with their proposal and have them countering offering in a way that is more beneficial for you. This is called negotiating against yourself.

Silence allows us to see and hear what we might otherwise miss. Things like facial expressions and body language, for example, tell us a lot about what others are thinking and feeling. We can then respond in a calm and insightful manner. All we need is to do it be silent and observant.

6 tips to more effectively incorporate silence into your daily routine.

Listen

Listen to your environment. Whether it is inside or out, what sounds do you hear? Are the rhythms fast or slow? Are the frequencies high or low? Is that bird singing to his flock or his love? Slowing down and listening makes you mindful of the here and now. Once you are in the moment, you can think clearly. We can’t change the past or the future, we only control the present. So, be focused on what you can do right now and its impact on the future.

Journal

Write down whatever comes to your mind. This gives voice to your right brain. The silent partner is waiting for their opportunity to speak a chance to do so. Set a time limit and be consistent. This habit will help your mind to autonomously prepare to communicate with the paper.

Music

Pick one of your favorite pieces of music and listen to it for the details. Are you able to pick out the instruments? Can you identify the emotion the artists are expressing? 

Imagine being in the recording studio and hearing that for the first time. This will bring out a deeper aspect to the music than you may have ever experienced.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. ― Aldous Huxley

Mindfulness

Even if you are new at creating mindfulness experiences, you can achieve more control of your situation when you are entirely present in the hush of the moment. Imagine there is no future and no past. Think that all you have is now. Then use that context to view what is happening around you and make decisions that lead to a better future.

Brown and Pink Noise

Why it is not technically silence, brown noise with its low frequencies sounds like a rushing river and pink noise, which sounds like rain or rushing leaves, create a sense of relaxation that is good for turning your thoughts inward.

Get off the grid

Even if it is for just a few minutes, turn off the Wi-fi and the notifications. Then be completely present in the physical world, only you, your thoughts, and your feelings. Spend a few moments, or hours, with your favorite person…You.

Our minds need rest. We need the silence between the notes to make the music beautiful. To put what happens around us into context and to enjoy the lives we have. Give your mind the gift of occasional silence.

5 Ways to Recharge Your Mind

Ideas to re-eneggize

Do yourself a favor and hit the reset button

 

Life is demanding. You are simultaneously being pulled in several different directions that can create a high level of stress and a low level of accomplishment. Whether you have a minute or an hour to replenish, these five strategies will help you to refocus, re-energize and win the day.

Practice Mindfulness
Take a couple of minutes to concentrate on your surroundings. Listen to the various sounds. Close your eyes and form a picture in your mind’s eye. Pan and zoom around your environment, focusing on the actions associated with the individual patches of activity, then collectively like a symphony. Take in the details and use your imagination to create a vivid picture. Consider that everyone and everything is in the same moment, yet the experiences are all so different. Do this for three to five minutes and you will be more atune to the work in front of you.

When you wash your hands, when you make a cup of coffee, when you’re waiting for the elevator – instead of indulging in thinking, these are all opportunities for being there as a still, alert presence. – Eckhart Tolle

Take a catnap
When you feel that you have no more solutions or the distractions start to creep in after less and less productive time, it is time for a nap. Even the shortest of naps can leave you feeling refreshed and ready for action. I usually set my timer for five or ten minutes. That is enough time to create a disconnect between where you are mentally and what lies ahead, allowing you to completely change the way you perceive the situation when you return to it.

There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled. – Ovid

Reset your plan
Take inventory of what you have accomplished, the tasks that are in progress, and what is left to do. Then create a new plan of attack for the rest of your day. You may find priorities have changed, and it is better to reassign some work to other days or even look for ways to delegate it. Reprioritizing will help you to utilize your time more effectively, allowing you to concentrate on the 20% of work that gets you 80% of the results.

Your job, as a professional, is to transform big assignments into smaller achievable pieces, prioritize them, then get them done at a high level.

Appreciate yourself
This strategy creates a sense of accomplishment, and you can feel that you are making real progress, no matter how small. Take five minutes to think about what you have accomplished so far today. Next, ask your self these questions and, if possible, document your answers so that you can look at them later as part of a bigger picture.

  • What have you crossed off your list?
  • For the tasks you haven’t, how much progress have you made?
  • How much is left to do?
  • What went well?
  • Why?
  • What could you have done better?
  • How?

Then, regardless of the results, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

Take some me time to refocus
Get up out of the chair and look out the window or across the room. Changing your focus and point of view reduces eyestrain. It also helps you to push the mental reset button, clearing your mind, and providing a new context for old problems.

Wherever you work and whatever you do, using these techniques will help you to digest what you have been working on and enhance your mental alertness. That will help you to get things done faster and more effectively than grinding. So, the next time you are looking for the solutions to a challenging problem, clear those mental hurdles by pushing the reset button with one of these techniques.