S tress, Burnout and the feeling of being overwhelmed gets to be a problem for many people. Sometimes we cannot change the situation. But almost always we can decide how we deal with a situation. Here is a quick way to relax in difficult situations:
Breathing is the essence of life. Consciously breathing out reminds us. Exhaling can remind us that our life is not endless. Since it ends with the last breath.
And when we take on the perspective from the end of our life backwards, it often helps to find the right attitude for a situation. If you are too narrow-minded , often get stuck in little things bothering you with too many detail, you lose the overview.
Exhaling is different from inhaling. While inhaling you take air into your lungs, you fill yourself. While breathing out you empty yourself. Your are creating space. You let go.
If you feel overloaded or stressed – exhale consciously. It helps you to feel yourself again. You can relax. If you worry to much or brood over something that cannot be changed – you exhale .
Exhaling creates space. Not only in your lungs, but also in your mind.
If you sit in a meeting and somebody speaks nonsense – exhale. And observe whether an adequate impulse comes up inside you. Or whether you simply accept the situation as it is.
If you write something or think about something, exhale occasionally consciously. And let yourself carry with your breath from one thought to the next thought. From one sentence to the next.
If you want to make a speech and you feel your anxious – exhale – and let go. If you have lost the thread, just it frankly — and breathe out.
By breathing out you probably become quieter. You can make a better distinction. You feel yourself: I am here. Now.
Your are here anyway. But the human mind is a worried thing. It jumps here and there. That’s why in Buddhism it’s called “monkey mind”. This is no devaluation, only a description. Do not let yourself be dragged around by your monkey mind.
And then the second step:
Do just one thing.
Action becomes enormously effective if you do only one thing. Only one thing. Do not distract yourself. Focus your attention like in a burning glass. Multitasking is an illusion. It functions only with routine jobs which do not require your full attention.
My daughter discovered this important principle at the end of her school days. Preparing for her last exams she went to the university library every day. Why? Quite simple. One’s not allowed to talk there. There is no Internet. No magazines lie around. No fridge for snacking nearby.
And she was surprised how easily she could study there for five or six hours in a row. She was surprised she could actually learn.
That means: Switch off disturbances or at least reduce them. Hang a sign on your office door. Divert phone calls. Switch your mobile phone on silent. Finish Outlook. Log off Twitter.
If a thought comes that you still need to buy bread for dinner make a short note, exhale and return to your activity.
Do not get stuck with judgmental thoughts. Focus. Do the judging and correcting later.
If you go for a walk, do not call someone at the same time. If you eat, do not read.
Focus on what is just before you. A look from the window – you exhale and you focus your attention on a thing. The pattern on your coffee mug – you exhale and focus you.
The secret of the “Flow experience” follows the same principles:
- You are concentrated on one thing.
- You do something that doesn’t stress you nor bores you.
- You get constant feedback about what you do.
Do one thing. If you write something, just write. Do not become your own proofreader at same time.
If you play many roles at the same time for long time, that is the sure way to exhaustion and discontent. You’ve been occupied the whole day– and nothing is really finished.
I know, this sounds stupid. Simply smiling without a reason? Yes, exactly. I have tried it — and it worked.
When I coached employees in a call center many years ago, I had this idea. At that time nobody knew that. The people were bored by all the same inquiries. Or irritated by the reproachful customers, who complained — mostly for a good reason.
“How should I be friendly to a new caller, if I am absolutely fed up after six hours”, was the question. I said: “Smile when a new customer calls. This will change your mood.”
Your posture or your facial expression has a big influence on your mood, your feelings. When you feel depressed or worried your shoulders will probably hang down, your head hangs a bit forward, your chest sunk in .
Now you try this: Stand up on purpose, press your chest out, hold up your head — and try to feel depressive. It doesn’t work.
You know body and mind belong together. At least most of the time. That’s useful in the third step of your relaxation.
Smiling creates a distance to what you are focused on. Smiling creates a positive attitude towards what you’re just doing. Smiling brings you in contact. Either with another person or with a thing. Or an idea.
Let’s say, you’re working on a difficult document. You exhale occasionally over and over again. Then you focus again. And then you smile. You will probably notice a positive internal change.
You always have A choice.
Of course you can not always influence what happens to you. In spite of the principle of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Some things are simply a destiny. Or due to the malice and stupidity of other people.
Of course you cannot always influence what happens to you. In spite of the principle of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Some things are simply destiny. Or due to the malice and stupidity of other people.
You park your car in the no parking zone. Either because no other parking space is available. Or because you want to bet on it. And unluckily — as you come back, a lovely ticket has been squeezed under your wiper blade.
Now you have the choice: Anger. Complain about all the bad luck in your … or …
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