To start with, if you stop when you’re tired, you have already stopped waaaay too late.
You might have heard about the Pomodoro technique (for those who never did, it’s simple: you work in chunks of 30–45 minutes, or more, focusing your attention on only one thing. When the time is up, you stop, you take a break and you start again for another slot).
The Pomodoro technique is considered a productivity tool. I would argue that it is also a wellness tool. Why? Because the scheduled breaks in between the focused deep work slots give space to your brain to relax, recharge and refresh. All while not allowing stress to build up to higher levels.
Take a Break
Scheduling breaks during the day is one of the techniques used by the highly successful entrepreneurs, startup founders and CEOs. It allows them to navigate through the daily stress of running multi million dollar businesses (LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner periodically schedules nothing in his calendar to make time for himself).
You will argue that you are so busy and stressed that you don’t even have time to breathe, let alone taking a break. And you are probably right.
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You see, not breathing correctly is not only a sign of stress but it also enhances your negative reaction to stress. It’s a vicious circle.
To break it, it would be enough to stop for a couple of minutes and breathe deeply (through your nose into your abdomen, counting to 3 or 5 or how long you can, while you inhale, holding your breath for a couple of seconds, and exhaling while counting to 3 or 5 or how long you can).
It’s easy and you will feel so much better afterwards. But will you do it the next time you feel stressed?
Or will you go on being stressed just because you cannot stop or because you don’t know what to do to de-stress?
Choose Your Response
Life is fast paced nowadays and there are countless sources of stress around: at work, in traffic, at home.
You can be easily overwhelmed. Or you can choose how you react to them: on auto-pilot and accept stress as a given or you can stop before reacting and think what would be the best possible response for your well being.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
– Viktor E. Frankl
Reacting better to stress is easier when you are not tired; the more exhausted you are the worse your reaction to stress. Another vicious circle.
You would need to sleep more and recharge better to feel better. But when? (I hear you asking!)
Did you know that Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder and CEO) sleeps 8 hours per night (his word!)? If he can, you should be able to do it too (maybe you don’t need 8 hours but for sure 5 are not enough — unless you are one of the few lucky ones who can go forever on 5 or 6 hours of sleep).
Less is More
To make time for sleep you will have to start eliminating what is not necessary (activities, time waster, etc.) You will say that everything you do is necessary.
But is it also important? Important for you? Or are you just trying to abide to external, unrealistic, unattainable standards?
Choose what’s most important for you and your family and focus on that instead of striving for ‘perfection’. We should aim for lives that are sustainable and fulfilling.
– Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Faceebook
We all have our own mantra when it comes to work, success, living a good life.
But how many times do we stop to ask ourselves if the lifestyle we are building is sustainable in the long run?
Are we burning the candle at both ends? Are we fulfilled?