Written by: Rachel Marie Paling, Senior Level 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.
As a busy entrepreneur, I personally have had to discover my own way to achieve ”equanimity” - the calm brain, body, soul which can be achieved through work-life balance. Through the years I have tested and tried different strategies and now I can definitely share my top 10, however with the caveat that “we are all unique individuals” and what works for me doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you.
1. Constant Metacognition
This first tip is absolutely the most essential and the key to most of what I do. Metacognition or in other words “observing my own brain” is now a constant in my life. Through this observation, I have been able to bring in overwhelming awareness of my brain states, existing behaviours, thought patterns, subconscious thought patterns, learning processes and emotional triggers. From this awareness, I am constantly self-monitoring what my brain needs or what I should do or how I should respond at that point in time. I have become much more conscious of how to manage and optimise “myself” by catering to my “brain’s needs”. The Delphic maxim “Know thyself" or in Greek “γνῶθι σεαυτόν” has definitely been a personal mission for me and the more I discover and understand about myself, the more I am able to either bring this knowledge to others or “walk the talk” showing it.
2. Calming the "Jumpy Brain"
When I am extremely busy, I often observe what I call “my jumpy brain”, which is when my attention is wandering all over the place. I want to do too many things at the same time, I’m not feeling in a calm state and my thoughts are racing and jumping. As soon as I observe this, if I can, I stop everything and meditate. The busier I am, the more I sit down to meditate. If it’s not possible, then I immediately create a priority to-do list and I focus myself into doing what’s important first.
3. “Passion Sport”
Three years ago, in a coaching session I expressed my desire to become more “sporty” as previously I had never achieved consistency in sport. That summer my quest was to discover a sport that would make me “go nuts” for it. Something that I would be sooooo passionate about that I would crave to do it. I found it. Paddle boarding has become my sports crave and it’s also now leading me to the desire to take up surfing. I love it and it is great exercise. I now have a fixed board plus an inflatable one, which I can take with me when I’m on trips.
4. Morning Yoga with Eyes Closed
I have dabbled with yoga through the years, but this summer I have become “yoga serious” and every morning I start my morning on the mat. It could be between 20-90 minutes depending on how busy I am, but the one thing I love is to actually practice my yoga with my eyes closed. This really gives me a feeling of connecting with myself as I start my day, connecting with my body and this internal reflection instills inner peace.
5. Be Ancestral
From a very young age I discovered that sitting cross-legged and walking barefoot were normal behaviours for me and could be considered to be primitive ancestral behaviours. For me, walking barefoot constantly connects me with the earth and even in winter or where ever I can when I am outside, I always prefer to take my shoes off. I also find that sitting cross-legged on a chair actually helps me to keep my back straight, so you may even see me in the office or in a restaurant sitting with my legs crossed.
6. Fasting or Juicing
I have also discovered that fasting or juicing for a period of time, actually fills me with energy, creativity and above all brain focus and attention. I’ve tried this a few times now and every single time “my brain goes on fire” into an extremely positive, productive mode. Definitely, my experience is due to the fact that my digestive system goes into a restive state, so all that surplus energy goes to my brain.
7. Be Creative with the Tasks You Hate
Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, there will always be things that you don’t enjoy doing. Then, how could you become creative around performing a detested task? I really hated having to do my accounts every month. In those days I was travelling frequently and I decided on one particular trip to take my admin and my accounting books with me to do at the airport to fill in the time spent waiting for the flight. I really loved sitting at the airport in the coffee shop, with the feeling of travel and in a very relaxed way doing my accounts. So much so that every month I took my accounts with me to do at the airport. So now, if there is something I don’t like, I always ask myself to get creative with it.
8. Mix Fixed Appointments with Spontaneous Agenda
When life is business meetings, fixed trainings, telephone calls etcetera, I try to create a balanced mix of fixed appointments with flexible and spontaneous “to dos”. Obviously, the fixed appointments have their own set time, but then I may have a whole afternoon where nothing is scheduled and I can spontaneously decide in that moment what I will do. It could be catching up on admin, it could be writing an article, it could be reading and researching or even creating new materials or even I may spontaneously decide to go and do sport, to take a walk, to go for coffee or whatever, in those moments, takes my fancy.
9. Transform Reaction into Action
I mentioned earlier about my constant metacognitive practice and one thing I have really worked on has been how I react. In previous years, I am very aware that at times I had pretty extreme reactions, especially as I am very honest and open and do speak my mind. In the past I would say these reactions were uncontrolled, now as I am more and more aware, I catch myself in those split seconds before I react. By catching myself, this allows me to take action and what I mean with this is, it allows me to decide how I’m going to respond. In this way, reactions become controlled actions.
10. “Meditation is a Must”
As a busy entrepreneur, meditation is THE absolute must in my life. I normally meditate every single day between 45-90 minutes. If I have a day where I could do more, I do. The calm, inner peace and bliss state that this daily practice brings is now something that I cannot live without. Meditation has led me to discipline and tame my mind and really is one of the major contributing factors to optimised brain states and maximised production.
I do hope that these top 10 tips of mine may help all of you to discover your own ways to achieve that work-life balance that we all need in our lives.
Rachel Marie Paling, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Rachel Marie Paling is an International Game Changer in Education, in particular, the education of languages. She has created the method and approach Neurolanguage Coaching, which incorporates professional coaching and neuroscience principles into the learning process. She coaches and trains teachers worldwide, transforming them into certified and ICF accredited Neurolanguage coaches and has created the Neurolanguage Coach network with over 700 NL Coaches in just over 70 countries worldwide and is now bringing the approach to schools and institutions over the world through her licensed trainers and in nine languages. Rachel started teaching language at 17 and has a BA Honours in Law and Spanish, MA in Human Rights. She is a qualified UK lawyer, MA in Applied Neuroscience, and a PCC ICF Life Coach. She is the author of the books Neurolanguage Coaching and Brain-friendly Grammar and has written numerous blog articles about learning, coaching, and neuroscience. She has spoken at many international conferences, and her company was awarded the Bronze Award at the Reimagine Education Awards 2019 in the Science in Education category. She is dedicated to the shift in education and is currently establishing an educational foundation to bring coaching, neuroscience, and heart science into educational processes.