Written by: Silke Harvey, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Let’s face it. Our modern, fast-paced world doesn’t leave much time for relaxing and enjoying the moment. From the time you get up until you go to sleep, every second is filled with scheduled activities, chores, work, errands and dozens of activities on your to-do list. You work your way through the day at a breakneck speed just to drop into bed late a night to hopefully snatch a few hours rest and to do it all again tomorrow.
This unsustainable pace is the reason why so many people are suffering from burnout, mental health problems as well as many physical diseases. Humans just aren’t made to tick like this. Nature intended for us to live in harmony with Mother Earth and her rhythms and not at the speed of this modern society driven by consumption and making money.
In my workshops, I’ve come across this problem time and time again. For many of my clients, the time spent with me often was the first breather they’d had in weeks or even months. And during this time of stillness, of relaxation, their minds suddenly realized the rat race they had been caught up in – the fact that they had been living with a feeling of deep unhappiness and anxiety for so long that they believed it to be the norm.
Having worked in a corporate environment and suffered from burnout myself, I can identify only too well. I tried all of the spiritual practices, read all the self-help books and, just like my clients, came to the conclusion that there is just too much to do in the day to sit cross-legged on a yoga cushion for an hour or more at a time. Time is precious; time is money. But during my own recovery from burnout, I also realized that no matter how much money our time is worth, it’s even more valuable when it comes to our own health. Then it becomes immeasurable, in fact.
Over time, I developed my own signature method for teaching my clients how to relax even when things are busy. This method is based on five pillars. Every day, take as little as 10 minutes out of your schedule and engage in at least one of the following activities:
1. Time for Fun
This is the big one. Life without fun is miserable, a ready-made recipe for negativity and depression. Humans are hardwired to need fun to keep up their positive energies. Spend time doing something that really lifts you up and see the massive difference it makes. It can be as easy as putting on a favorite song and having a really good dance around the house, doing a jigsaw puzzle or singing in the shower. Keep it simple.
2. Time for rest
Another biggie. Rest doesn’t have to involve going to bed or sitting down meditating for hours, although it’s great if you can work up to that! Practicing mindfulness, being entirely present in the moment, in the here and now, is a powerful tool for resting the mind. It’s as easy as focussing fully on what you’re doing. Washing the dishes – feel the temperature of the water, watch the bubbles dance in the sink. Walking – observe the leaves on the trees, the clouds... The possibilities of integrating mindfulness in each day are endless. Yet every single minute spent doing this helps to relax and clear the mind.
3. Time for nature
Connecting with nature is essential for our human wellbeing. We are all children of Mother Earth and need to feel her regularly to maintain a healthy balance of body, mind and spirit. Go outside, even if it’s only for a short walk around the office block in your lunch break. If you live in an urban environment, even feeling the fresh air, sun or rain on your skin is already making that connection to nature. Breathe deeply whilst walking in nature and practice your mindfulness at the same time. The effect is immediate and uplifting.
4. Time for gratitude
Each day, ideally just after you get up, write down three things you are grateful for. It can be as little as just a few words, no need to write a novel. By focussing on the good things in your life, there is no way the brain can think about negative stuff at that moment. So there’s yet another opportunity to up the positive vibes. And even in the worst of times, there’s always something to be grateful for. If you’ve had a bad time, start simple. The delicious taste of that first cup of tea or coffee! The sunshine through the window! It’s raining outside and you’re warm and dry inside! Once you start thinking from a perspective of gratefulness, life will soon become a beautiful wonder, each and every day.
5. Time for reflection
Like gratitude, a daily practice of reflection can help you appreciate everything you have in life. Sit for a while and think about your day. What went well? What didn’t go to plan? Then try and learn the lessons that life has offered you there. Keep your focus on a positive outcome. Appreciate the good things that happened. Don’t dwell on the negative ones. Writing this down in a journal helps many people to gain even more clarity. But whichever way you choose to reflect, taking the time at the end of each day is a worthwhile practice.
Try out some of these activities and experiment with them. There’s no right or wrong way of going about them. They are highly personal to each and every person. You’ll find that these tasks will become an effortless part of your day, and you’ll most likely end up spending much longer than just 10 minutes on them. You may even end up engaging in all of them. But whatever you decide, persistence is the key.
Even if things are difficult initially, start with just a minute at a time and slowly up the game until it becomes second nature. You’ll be surprised how quickly your mind will improve and how much you’ll slow down even when things seem out of control and stressful all around you. The result will be a happier, more relaxed you with lots more energy to handle the stress all around you.
Silke Harvey, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Silke Harvey is the writer and founder of the Inner Hippie Club, a community for women who’ve lost their mojo and want to release their Inner Hippie, that carefree teenage feeling before life got serious. A professional musician, corporate employee and freelance translator in her former life, Silke draws on her colorful past and personal experience with burnout and surviving in stressful working environments to help women reclaim their inner joy and bring a healthy balance back into their lives. She has developed an effective method based on time for fun, nature, rest, reflection and gratitude. Silke is a certified Reiki Master, Reiki Drum practitioner, Seichem practitioner, Chakra Dancing and Creative Mindful Meditation facilitator and HAO animal healer and applies many of these techniques when working with clients.