11 May How Not to Work yourself to Death #2
Yesterday, we mentioned the 2-minute pause button. One of the challenges with this tool, is that we often don’t have a list of diverse emotions. If you are highly driven, it’s possible that your list simply looks like this :
That’s part of the exercise : it trains you to think in a problem-solving way, but it also shows you on what level your emotional & physical health is. Today, we’ll focus on a body-mechanism to restore your physical health.
Tool # 2 : Breathe:
Whether it’s a fiery sunset, a crashing ocean, or a mountain-top view; nature has the ability to move us deeply. Irrespective of your religious or spiritual persuasion, inspiration and awe are experiences we share with all people, across the planet.
Studies have also found that these ‘deep breaths’ of inspiring moments fuel our brains with creative capacity, oxygen, and a surge of hormones that optimize performance. Just like the 2-minute pause, we believe in taking a few minutes between meetings, between projects and between destinations, to consciously switch off. Mindfulness meditation has taken the West by storm, and rightly so: in our attempt to reach new heights, we disconnect from our bodies. This form of meditation retrains your brain to focus, to connect, and to breathe.
If your mind is always racing, this can be a very challenging exercise, so we recommend starting off with short breaks, and making them longer as you feel comfortable.
- Move away from your familiar environment. Our minds are wired to get stuck in the same thinking patterns, and breaking these with external changes, enables new, fresh connections to form.
- Spend five minutes with your eyes closed, listening to a soothing song. You’re not allowed to do ANYTHING else, though, and your eyes MUST stay closed.
- Make a cup of tea, and switch all technology off. Make sure you drink the cup slowly. If this is difficult, take 4 deep breaths between each sip.
- Go for a walk. Not a run, not an exercise session : A WALK. Ideally, you’d want to be somewhere close to nature. Looking up into the trees, and paying attention to the details in nature, will stimulate your brain to release hormones needed to work better.
- If you want to feel productive while taking a break, it can also be helpful to have a resource-library of videos from inspirational high-achievers from your industry. This is particularly efffective if you feel discouraged, or you’ve run into several dead-ends in the last while. Have a resource available of successful people’s previous failures, and hear how they deal with it.
This comes back to the principle of inhaling and exhaling. During our work-hours, our minds are running at top speed, exhaling everything that is in them, and making sure goals are achieved. Spending 2 minutes actively pausing and problem solving, and another minute relaxing, is already 3minutes closer to a healthier – and more productive – working style.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at Rhythm.
We intentionally put this point last, as many highly driven people HATE the word: “rest”. (It may partly be due to the fact that our ego’s are often attached to being overworked : as if it’s expected). My favorite question to ruffle the feathers of type-A clients or friends, is : “So, have you scheduled any rest-time in your calendar this week?” It’s like I’m insulting their mother! Unfortunately, though, if we don’t schedule rest, we tend to neglect it.
Rest can be anything from paging through a magazine or taking a power-nap, to having lunch in a serene location. It’s important to identify which activities offer you real rest, and which ones are simply a way to fool yourself. People that are particularly driven, often find it difficult to know how to switch off, so before we schedule rest-time, we usually spend significant energy qualifying how to rest well.
At the end of it, there is no magic formula to get you through your dips. Just as physical fitness takes commitment to the right combination of training-routines over time, resilience also requires commitment to healthy habits forged over time.
Just take that first step; you’ve got to start, or rather stop, somewhere!