The faster I go, the further behind I get.
It often seems like there’s not enough time in the day for it all. When life feels like one big to-do list, we lose out and become stressed, as we miss out on the fun and pleasure of life.
If and when we get all of those things done, how much do we have left over to enjoy the product of our labour? Where’s our happiness?
With many demands placed upon us, and the many more we place upon ourselves, we’re left feeling stressed, as we’re pulled in several directions at the same time. At the end of the day, we fall into bed exhausted wondering where the day went. We may have trouble sleeping, thinking about what we didn’t do, or what we have to do the next day.
I used to have a tendency to get up earlier and work a little later when I had more to do. I felt spent, all used up, with nothing left. My brain grew hazy and unclear as the busyness pulled me forward. While lists helped keep me on track and eased some of the stress, I questioned my own mind. Simple solutions or things I needed to recall seemed elusive. At times, I thought I had early onset dementia. This, in and of itself, caused me additional stress.
Like many people, I had a habit of “crazy busyness.” I was overwhelmed, and felt like an elastic-band under tension, ready to snap. And often, I did.
At times, I honestly wondered what life was all about. I wanted the world to stop and I wanted to get off the hamster wheel. In this, I was closer to a solution than I realized at the time.
When we’ve got lots to do, how can we best support ourselves? How can we reduce feeling overwhelmed and still tend to what’s required of us?
The answer is simple—STOP!
A portable, quick and powerful way to recalibrate our brains, and ability to think clearly, is to practice the mindfulness STOP skill.
• S: Stop and take Stock. Whatever you're doing, take a moment to pause. What’s going on in your body, emotions and mind?
• T: Take a breath. Re-connect with your breath. The breath is an anchor to the present moment.
• O: Observe. Notice what’s happening. What’s happening inside you, and outside?
• P: Proceed. Continue with what you were doing.
Taking time to make time creates spaciousness in life. It’s like hitting the reset button.
The stress response is deactivated, allowing us to think better and more effectively. Our bodies benefit as we reduce the flow of stress chemicals through our body. Our decision-making and problem-solving improves. We’re better able to notice solutions we’d been blind to in our state of busyness.
These days, break times are often spent checking social media, keeping us stuck in the perpetual state of thinking. This doesn’t allow for relaxation and rejuvenation. Making STOP a frequent habit pays great dividends.
I’ve had a morning sitting-practice for a very long time now. It’s lovely, but I’ve found my experience of life improving dramatically as I take simple mindfulness practices and sprinkle them throughout my day.
I’ve become more effective and efficient I’ve become as I pause and STOP several times a day. And more importantly, I’m happier.
My memory has gotten better instead of worse as I age. I never realized how much stress affected my ability to remember and think. Mindfulness is a pill like no other, and it’s simply a practice of taking time to make time. The fuller my schedule, the more I pause.
Taking time to calm myself, to become aware of the present moment, and simply breathe has reduced the tension on the rubber band. This leaves me, and those in my life, without the ever-present fear of the band snapping.
Don’t wait until you feel like you’re going to explode. Begin now and see the difference you feel.
STOP is free, it’s portable, with no harmful side effects. Try it, you just might like it.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.