September 2, 2016

How to Reclaim your Life, One Mini-break at a Time.

train, girl

“I don’t even know what I want anymore because I don’t have time to think,” confessed a friend of mine about her busy life.

“I’m on the go from the minute I open my eyes in the morning, until I collapse into bed at night.”

It’s hard to stay upbeat when you’re too busy, too tired, not having enough fun, and there’s no break in sight. In fact, it can be downright depressing.

Plain and simple, we need a break. But who has time?

What if there was a way to create time-outs in our day without changing our schedule? And it had nothing to do with time management?

Then and Now.

A hundred years ago, you could mail a letter and have weeks to wait for a response. While you were waiting, you might plant your field, can fruit, sit on the porch, watch the sunset…

But today—well, you know. Blip goes the text. Blip comes the answer. And then you’ve got to act on it. How many texts in a day? Emails? Phone calls? Each bringing more to do and less time in which to do it. It’s exhausting.

But this shortage of space in our day has other implications besides exhaustion. With our minds constantly occupied, we have no time to process what’s happening around us. Does this make me happy? Am I angry? Concerned? Should I do something? Say something?

Without knowing how we feel, how do we know what to do?

Without emotional feedback, we miss the critical signal that something has made us feel sad or happy, that we want more or less of something, or that we want to move toward or away from someone or something. Without these important cues to help us choose one thing over another, life tends to feel empty because we’re not living a life that would have meaning to us.

There will be Busyness.

To live a meaningful life, we need time-outs in our day to power down and just be. It doesn’t take much—just tiny breaks in the day to let go of the tension, breathe and reset. In those still moments, we not only rest, but we receive inspiration from our inner guidance. Flashes of yes, no, this way, that…all guiding us to a more authentic life.

Believe it or not, there are lots of times throughout the day to take a mini-break. Here are five ways to spot those moments and make the most of them:

1) Do one thing: Whenever possible, instead of multi-tasking, do one thing. Instead of making a mental to-do list while driving in the car, how about just driving? Instead of thinking about the 50 things you have to do today while you’re drying your hair, how about just drying your hair? Or just washing the dishes, sorting the laundry, or cooking dinner. Do one thing. Enjoy that one thing. Let your mind refresh in that one thing.

2) Notice transitions: Pay attention to the transition from one thing to the next. These are great opportunities for a mini break. Leaving work, for example. Instead of rushing out of work and immediately shifting into thoughts about what’s next, how about just walking to the car? Instead of jumping out of bed in the morning, how about a minute to recognize it’s a new day? Take a beat to recognize the space between activities. Rest in them.

3) Stop: A simple command. We’re used to the word stop. We know what to do when we hear it. So let’s use that. When we start reaching for your phone to fill the space, we can gently tell ourselves, “Stop.” See if you can pull yourself back into the emptiness and rest a moment.

4) Breathe: Literally breathe. We get so busy sometimes we forget to exhale. Find the moments throughout the day—walking down the hall, shutting the car door, carrying the groceries—to breathe.

5) Listen: Listen to yourself. Listen to others. So many times we listen but we’re busy thinking too. See what happens if you just let your guard down and listen. Inspiration is born in these moments. We hear something that sparks something else in us. And something new is born. Listen.

Taking little breaks is great for the body, mind and soul. It gives the mind a chance to reset. Allowing the body to rest brings energy. And a simple thing like a moment of peace can even restore our hope.

In the end, we all want our lives to have meaning. We want to follow our own path. And we can do that, even in the midst of the chaos—one mini-break at a time.

Got a trick for finding mini breaks in your day? I’d love to hear it.


Author: Anna Celestino

Image: Eutah Mizushima/Unsplash

Editor: Emily Bartran

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