We have more tools than ever to simplify tasks and accomplish things more quickly, yet our “to do” lists get longer. Here are some things I do to calm myself down. In the process I become happier, more relaxed and grounded.
1. Make time for yourself. Don’t just go from task to task checking off your list. If you have to, add personal activity time to your daily planner for some time out. Do something playful and fun like the movies, reading a non-work related book, making a special dinner or learning something new.
2. Disconnect. Reduce technology stress by taking yourself off email for a day or the weekend. Check email 2 or 3 times a day rather than leaving it on all the time. If something is an emergency they’ll text or call you. I also like to disconnect from life in daily meditation. This is only 15-20 minutes, but I feel so refreshed and sparkle with new ideas after my meditation.
3. Eat slower and mindfully. Don’t speed through meals hardly tasting what you eat. Eat with intention and joy: chew foods slowly and enjoy the taste, smell and texture of the food. If you have a companion or family, eat at least one meal a day together. Dinner is the sacred hour in our home. We take no phone calls, and eat home cooked food by candlelight with conversation and nice music.
4. Sleep. Many in America are sleep deprived. I was for a long time. I find 7 hours of sleep helps me manage my stress level in everyday life. I am in a better mood, more alert and have a better memory when I get my sleep. Turn off your visual technology an hour before bed to start slowing down for a good night’s sleep. Contemplate what went well for you that day as you drift off to sleep.
5 Squash the negative self-talk. You can reverse the stories you play in your head that are not true. First you need to be aware of them. Sometimes when I am really down about something I will write it out. This is a powerful release and a reminder of how my wandering mind makes up stories that keep me from doing what I want to do, usually from fear: rejection or failure. It’s the idea of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, except that I use journaling as a release at any time of the day.
6. Connect with family and friends. This seems obvious and should be simple, but I caught myself not really listening to my husband and almost finishing his sentences, until I realized what I was doing. Take the time to go deeper. Put the iPhones and notebooks aside and engage in conversation. There is nothing better than the company and support of family and friends.
7. Enjoy nature. In the mountains where I live, I watch the sun rise and set almost every day. Even in the busy work day, take a short break and enjoy some fresh air. Take a walk during lunch hour if you have a spot near work. I love to hike the trails in Colorado where I live in the summer and snow shoe or cross-country ski in the winter. I sleep so well those nights.
8. Take time to exercise. It will make you feel better. There are so many exercise options these days. I find that even a short burst of exercise during the workday can make the next hours more productive and enjoyable.
9. Appreciate what you have. Take time to be grateful for what you have, and note what is going right often. I have a gratitude journal. It’s nice to read back and realize how blessed I am in my life.
10. Remember your aspirations and goals for your life. Each year I write out what I plan to accomplish in the upcoming year. I like to read these periodically to keep myself centered or to allow myself to change my direction. Some people keep these goals by their bedside to get charged up in the morning. I prefer to start my day with meditation. Figure out what works best for you.
11. Take the time to organize your daily objectives. This makes it easier to get to work in the morning and to resist the temptation to spend too much time in the social media space. I also like to have goals for the week and the month that I can re-sort based on how my life evolves. If I make daily, weekly and monthly goals, I find fewer things fall through the cracks, and if they do I realize they weren’t that important after all.
12. Do random acts of kindness for no reason at all, just because. In my former life, I developed the notion of cooperative intelligence , that is giving to others in your organization with no expectation that they would be obligated to give back to you. It’s amazing how the floodgates of sharing open when you just simply give.