I can always tell when I’m about to hit the wall. My body lets me know. At first, the signs are small. A sniffle here and there. A headache that comes and goes at various times each day along with sleepless nights. A sore throat, which becomes a cough, which then leads to some form of upper respiratory infection.
There is an inner voice that says to me that you need to push through the discomfort and tiredness my body is clearly signaling to me. I continue to reason with myself that it will be alright.
But, my body always lets me know when I have had enough. Eventually, I hit the fall. I become sick, and it forces me to give myself the rest and recalibration I so badly need. I’m sure you have experienced some of the above feelings because we are running at a pace so frantic that sometimes the only thing that makes you realize it’s time to disengage and slow down is a life-changing event.
It might be learning you have an illness you now have to manage, a sick parent or loss of a loved one which makes you reevaluate your life, purpose, and well-being. Or it could just be reaching a point of having enough.
We are OVERSTIMULATED and because of the constant interaction with our phones, TVs, streaming devices, applications, gaming, and people we have lost the fine art of disengaging and learning the fine art of doing absolutely NOTHING.
I get it. The addiction to constant stimulation is real. I am quite the information junkie, and my mind is always on the search for more information and ways to discover new ways of doing things. And it’s so easy to support this habit with access to so many tools to do so.
If you’re similar, you recognize with the amazing breadth of technology you have access, and while this can be a good thing, it can also be a bad thing because it makes it’s difficult to shut down your brain and rest. But, sometimes, to reset and gain some level of peace, you have to let go of all of these distractions.
I’ve done some experimenting to figure out some ways to help you detach from engaging so that you can take a breather and regroup.
Here are 7 things which are easy to incorporate into your life that you can start doing right now:
1. Go and take a walk. We have gotten into a habit of always thinking that we need some social interaction in a bar, restaurant, or with a group of people. I like people, and I’m sure you do too. But, sometimes alone time can be a time to quiet your mind, get your creative gears going, and just give you the rebalance you so badly need. Plus, fresh air has a way of making you feel better, and you’re getting in some exercise too which will help raise your endorphin levels.
2. Visit your local library. Yes, the good old library is a great place to go where you don’t have to listen to lots of noise, someone else’s cell phone conversation, or distractions in general. It’s a quiet zone, and you are forced to be quiet which can be a good thing in a non-stop talking world.
3. Wake up a little earlier than usual in the morning and use the extra time to relax. At first, it may seem harder than you think. But the morning offers some quiet distraction. If you pay close attention to the quiet, you’ll hear subtle signs of nature, i.e., birds, muted city noises, or you can take in the sunrise. This extra downtime before a busy day will help provide you with some calm feelings to help you navigate your day better. Doing this exercise personally, I realize I have two birds who come by my window every day and sing for a good hour. It’s become therapeutic for me and brings a smile to my mind to hear their daily conversation.
4. Stop using your phone, tablet, computer, watching TV for an hour before you go to bed and try to do it a couple of times a day for short periods to give yourself a break. Our devices have one goal which is to keep our attention. And it’s hard to walk away from them. They are fun and keep boredom at bay. But, get in the habit of putting them down or filling your time with other active experiences. It’s so easy to delve into social media, games, and applications and lose hours of your personal time.
And when it comes to the news I realize it’s important to be informed about what is going on locally and nationally. But, manage your intake of the news on your terms. I’ll explain why and how. The news has a cycle, and it’s unfortunate, but most of the news shared is negative.
They tell you everything that is going wrong on for 30 minutes or hours at a time peppering in very few stories that are positive. The result is added anxiety to you and an impact on your subconscious which adds to your stress levels. Stay informed of what is going on but manage it on your terms to keep your sanity. Check out trending stories, read your newspaper, but manage your time around doing so. You will see it gives the start and end of your day a completely different feeling.
5. Eliminate negative people from your circle. Family and friends are to be valued. But, if they are wearing you out mentally and emotionally, it might be time to let them go or at minimal manage your time with them.
Try this exercise for one week. Limit your time and engagement with negative people in your circle. Reduce the number of calls you make or take from them and your social interaction with them. Then reflect on how you feel at the end of the week. You may be surprised at how this simple act of disengagement can make you feel emotionally better and more rested.
You should support your friends, especially genuine friendships, but if each interaction is negative with someone, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.
6. Solitude is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Get in some alone time. Yes, even if you have kids and a demanding husband, wife, or significant other. It’s ok to take time for yourself to relax. Don’t feel guilty about it and make it part of your routine. You show me a happy person, and I promise you this person has learned the fine art of taking time for themselves and not being apologetic about it.
Even small increments of solitude can be useful and helpful for those of you are thinking there is no way you can get away because everyone needs you. For the naysayers, realize that others will be ok, but what is most important is for you to be ok too. Solitude will help you in this endeavor!
7. Learn to take on less not more. Yes, there is power in saying yes, because it does open you up to new experiences. But, there is equal power and value in saying no too. Stop overcommitting and taking on more than you can handle.
Try this instead. If you have a hard time saying no to something, tell people you will think about it, and if you can do the commitment, you will let them know. In doing so, you give yourself time to figure out if you can add more to your plate or if you need downtime. Don’t be afraid of the ‘N’ aka ‘No’ word. It’s ok to say no it helps you to feel and be better.
I now know when I’m about to hit the wall way before it happens. And I have learned to use the methods above to give myself the needed mental break before my high level of engagement affects me mentally, emotionally, and physically in a negative way.
I realize you have a lot on your plate. We all do. But, the key is knowing when to shut it down so that you can get the most important thing that is under your control in order, your peace of mind. When you need a breather, take it. If you need a break, find a way to get one. By not disengaging when you need it most, you set yourself up for numerous issues that can affect you mentally, emotionally, and physically in a detrimental way. But, taking these small steps can swing the pendulum the other way.