image via MCI
It's so easy to get your wings flapping so fast when we live in a world where we are so often trying to do three or four things at the same time. We're at our desks checking email, reading blogs, shopping and paying bills all at the same time, maybe even while watching TV. Or we are driving home at the end of the work day, while trying to make a few phone calls, decide what we'll cook for dinner and safely maneuver through a maze of tired, grumpy, careless drivers.
Sometimes we just need a way to turn things off and focus. A few days ago I had plans to spend the day going to San Diego. When I woke up it was raining, which meant I would cancel my day because I wouldn't be able to do what I had planned. Then I got a phone call that changed my plans yet again and immediately brought on several hours of work I wasn't planning on. I was on the phone, getting different stories from every person I talked to and trying to make sense of it all. Then I had to return calls and whip up written documents that would clarify the situation for everyone. At the same time I was trying to get a few things crossed off my own To Do list.
A few hours into that and my head was spinning and I couldn't focus on anything. I knew I needed to get back to my To Do list but couldn't even focus for a full minute. That got me thinking about things I can do to clear my head, slow myself down and get back to productivity. Here they are.
1) Meditate - I have quite a few great meditations on my iPod. Many of them are three to ten minutes so they don't take long. A few minutes of quietude relaxes the tension in my shoulders, allows me to breath easier, and for me to peel away a few layers of thought.
2) Get Outside - There's nothing better than taking a walk. It can be a quick jaunt around the block or a nice, long wander down a strand of beach. Slowing things down, getting some fresh air and looking at the world around me helps distract me from all the chatter in my head and wash away the unimportant stuff. A good walk will also increase oxygen flow and increase circulation in the body.
3) Read A Fun Book Or Magazine - Reading an engrossing story is a great way to turn off the noisy thoughts in my head. A good book gives my body and mind a break and gives me time to relax. Some days a magazine with lots of short articles of wide range of inspiring topics is my best distraction.
4) Interact With Others - Sometimes just taking a few minutes out to chat with a friend or family member will clear out the clutter and let us hear something else from someone else. It's amazing what you can learn when you take time to listen. So often they say just the things we needed to hear when they are sharing things about their own lives. Connecting with others is a great way to wind down for a few minutes and hopefully get in a few laughs too. And we know how good laughter is for us!
5) Journal - This is one of my favorite ways to clear my mind. I find if I journal first thing in the morning it gets my day off to a good start with a clear focus. Journaling allows me to pour out all the jumble of thoughts bouncing around in my head. Then on paper I can order them, sift them, analyze them and get a better idea of what is going on with me each day. It allows me to stay more focused, remember what's really important to me and to get to know myself better.
What would you add to this list? I'd love to learn what you do to wind yourself down.