With two thirds of us regularly feeling like we don’t have enough time to get our work done, many workers are reporting to feeling overwhelmed to the point of incapacitation. According to a 2011 study, on a typical day, we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information, five times as much as we did in 1986. So, no wonder we are feeling more vulnerable, exhausted, and overwhelmed, like we can’t get everything done.
Most of us are familiar with the idea of a circadian rhythm or 24-hour cycle in which we are asleep for part of the time and we wake up for part of the time. While we’re awake we also have ultradian rhythms for our breathing, our blood pressure, and our brain activity. In any given day you will probably find that there are periods of time in which you can be really focused and really productive and then you may experience what we call an ultradian dip, a dip in energy which can make you start to feel unproductive, inefficient, and sometimes overwhelmed by the end of the day. Often in our always “on” culture and our puritanical pursuit of busyness, we feel there is no option but to push through, to stay on task despite our waning productivity and focus.
So, one way we can feel a lot less exhausted and overwhelmed is to honour our natural biology and take a mindful break, give our brain and body an opportunity to recalibrate. With a regular daily practice, you’ll begin to notice when and what makes your energy dip, and be able to take the proper action to counteract that both in the moment and at large.
Take A Mindful Moment: Find the parts of your body that are tense, and then imagine breathing into those parts of your body to relax.
Check in with:
- Your face — so much stress resides here! Check in with the jaw, the eyes, the forehead…
- Your neck and shoulders — a common place where a lot of us carry stress.
- Your posture — just straightening up a bit and letting the head rest comfortably on the spine can do wonders for our attention, and our mood!
- Your hands, especially if you’ve been working at a computer all day!
Incorporate Some Movement: That old phrase “I think better on my feet” is actually physiologically and neurologically true. Moving our bodies and muscles increases the amount of oxygen moving around our body and brain.
- Get up and move around, even if it’s just a short trip to the toilet.
- Rather than send that internal email, can you go and talk to your colleague, perhaps Anne in accounts will appreciate the human interaction too!
- Go and make a warming cup of tea and while you are at it, really immerse yourself in the whole experience, the aroma, the taste, the warmth of the cup in your hands.
The perfect antidote to the cerebral congestion is to stop and take a mindful break.
Go on give it a try, it could seriously improve your mental health and your productivity.
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