Does this sound familiar to you?
You run to the store to get dog food, sign the kids up in swim lessons, visit dad in the nursing home, pay the credit card bill, return emails, submit your paper before the deadline and schedule your meetings. You collapse into bed, get up and do it all again.
You have a longing to be successful in your career, flourish in your relationships, and get on top of your nagging heath issues. But in fact, everything feels like all going down the toilet.
On the good days you can accomplish a lot while flying around by the seat of your pants, but it is clear something in your life is missing.
What’s missing is your desires. Your precious downtime, a hot bath or hike in the forest, sitting on the grass with the sun on your face, grabbing a nap when you are exhausted, the guitar you never pick up or the chapter that never gets written. How about that day at the spa with a dear friend?
The non-negotiable things in your life have a way of taking over what is important to your weary soul.
But none of this is news. We all know it, but fail somewhere along the line in figuring out how to make it happen.
What keeps us from taking an hour, or even ten minutes to do something that makes our insides feel yummy and calm?
You might think it comes from the thoughts racing in your head that say there is no time, or that someone else’s needs have to come before yours.
But in fact those relentless thoughts are triggered by a nervous system that has become ‘switched on’.
When our system is unknowingly are stuck ‘on’ in a survival response ( have you ever heard of, flight, fight or freeze? ) you will know it.
It will be awfully difficult to be aware of anything but your mind, and you may have a sense of not being grounded in your body. Your thoughts can be scattered, and it can be hard to focus or make a decision.
A nervous system stuck in high gear will create issues with your health, burnout, unhealthy habits and more. There is not any affirmation or self talk that can override it.
You will have to work with that switching system and get it turned off, so your system will start to learn it can be “safe” to slow down.
It becomes critical for you to learn the art of interruption. As in the pause you can create an opportunity to break the pattern of stress.
This is how you do it..
Next time you are caught in a flat out battle with the stressful stories rattling in your head, I want you interrupt what you are doing ( assuming you are not flying an airplane! ) and pause. It does not have to be for long, 15-30 seconds is a good start.
Then look around and take in the light, colours, and sounds.
Notice your breath, don’t change it, just become aware you are breathing.
Then notice your connection to the earth by becoming aware of your feet. Imagine roots growing from them into the earth.
Then add a smile, the eye crinkling kind. Even if there is no one to see it, as it will produce some chemicals that are good for you. Trust me your body needs them.
Repeat this as often as you can in a day, and you will start to shift your nervous system from speeding at break neck speed, to a more restful pace.
When it has been stuck in the fast lane for so long it will not get used to slow speed in a day. Be patient and stay curious about what is happening on the inside.
When you get good at that you can try for something bigger!
- Interrupt the drive home from work and sit in the park ( even better jump on the swing! )
- Interrupt your day at the office so you can step outside and look at the sky.
- Interrupt your housework and have a dance break to your favourite Beatles tune.
- Interrupt your sadness and watch a funny animal video.
The key is to also track the sensations happening in your body. You want to notice what you are feeling inside and bring awareness to the feelings of tension, peace, calm and or stress.
It is critically important for us to learn the skill of getting reconnected to our bodies and away from living in our minds.
Trust that the pauses in your day will be where you find the inspiration for your next blog, the clear head you need for presentation, and ease for that knot in your stomach.
Our modern world has us wired to keep going until we drop. Inspiration happens when we stop.