The Busyness Syndrome:
Smart phones, laptops, ipods, x-box. Fax machines, federal express, email, texts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat.
We live in an instant society that brings with it the expectation that we make ourselves available 24 hours a day. To our bosses, our spouses, our children, our friends.
Work, commute, board meetings, PTA. Soccer, baseball, cheerleading, tennis. Cook, clean, bills, laundry. As women, we are expected to do it all.
Exhaustion, insomnia, irritability, fatigue. In a word, we are overwhelmed.
The activity never stops. And neither does the noise. Sometimes, even in a quiet room, the noise level can be deafening, just from the thoughts inside your head!
If this sounds like your life, you’re not alone. When the stress in my life began affecting my health, I knew it was time to find some breathing space in the midst of my own crazy life.
Here are 5 ways to add quiet and calm into your hectic life:
(1) Make your work space a spiritual retreat – I’m lucky enough to have my own private office at work, but even if you work in a wide-open space, this will work for you, too. This tabletop fountain provides a peaceful, soothing sound.
In addition, I have managed to keep a bonsai plant alive for nearly eight years (sparse as it is), which is a whimsical reminder of where I’d always rather be…sitting under a tree reading (or writing) a book!
I have artwork that inspires me.
I’ve even hung white sage over my door to ward off negative energy. Now, you might not want to go this far (though, to my credit, I did not burn it, which is what you’re supposed to do), but you get the idea. Your workplace does not need to be devoid of warmth and personality.
To set the mood (not that kind of mood) in my office, I also turn off half of the horrible fluorescent lights in my office.
And there you have it. My private oasis. Without fail, at least once a week, someone will sit down in my office and look around before commenting on how peaceful it feels in there.
(2) Just Breathe – In my last post I talked about yoga breathing, also called Ujjayi breath (pronounced oooh-jie-ee). You don’t have to be a yogi in order to learn this technique. Just click here to see a quick video demonstration.
As you breathe in (slowly, through the nose), focus on your breath. As you breathe out (even more slowly, still through the nose), feel the aliveness (sort of a tingling sensation) in your hands and feet.
Repeat three times. You can do this with your eyes open or closed. You can do it in private or in the middle of a meeting. Just do it. Several times a day. It will help lower your stress threshold.
I set an Outlook reminder for every 30 minutes to take three cleansing breaths. Don’t have Outlook? I’ll bet you have a smart phone!
(3) Take a walk – I’m fortunate enough to work in a stunningly beautiful part of Northern California. When it’s not too hot outside, I take a walk to the golf course and back (which is about 1.5 miles round trip). It’s very serene and quiet and gives me a chance to get some fresh air and clear my head.
You don’t need beautiful surroundings. A parking lot will do. When you’re feeling stressed, and even when you’re not, take 5 minutes each day to get outside and take a walk. Rather than thinking about the project you’re working on, or anything work related, notice the environment around you. Let go of all thoughts and just breathe. And don’t forget to leave your cell phone behind!
(4) Make the most of your free time – Before you double over laughing (or crying) at the concept of free time, let me point out that you actually have more free time than you think!
How many stop lights do you stop at in a single day? How many times do you go to the restroom? These times provide the perfect opportunity to take a breather. Eyes open or closed, take several deep breaths. I like to think of these as mini meditations.
If you take advantage of these free moments a dozen times a day, imagine how much more relaxed (less stressed) you’ll be when you walk in the door after a long day at the office!
(5) Affirmations – Next to my computer monitor I have a note reminding me to Breathe. In my car, tucked under the visor, I have one reminding me to Surrender (my reminder to let it go when some idiot cuts me off on the freeway). It used to read Slow Down and Breathe, reminding me to stop rushing (because being in a rush always causes me anxiety), but I’ve gotten much better with that so I’ve moved on to a new one.
They’re really more reminders than affirmations, but I do change them out periodically (usually when they no longer to motivate me to perform said function) so they can be whatever is meaningful (at the moment) to you.
What about you? What quick tips do you have for finding a little quiet in your day? I’d love to know!!
Up Next — Color Your World: 5 Ways to Add Color to Your Life
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