From Last Week
As I wrote in last week’s Message, 2021 will be an extension of 2020 and it is wearing on people, especially those who are driven to help others—professionals like you. In addition to the stress of a normal busy season, add in a measure of social unrest, political upheaval and economic uncertainty, and it’s enough to put you on the edge. None of that is going away for this year. It’s out of your control. So control what you can—how you manage your own mental health.
What Used To Work Doesn’t
You’ve heard how important it is that you get away from it all, which is true. You also know that your more conventional ways, like trips, vacations, family and friend gatherings, are no longer options. Instead, you have to unplug and detach differently. Turn off your phone, computer, and tv and give yourself a rest from work and the world. You have to get away from it all, at least for a moment.
But the problem is that your mind doesn’t have that switch. Long after turning off the electronics, your mind continues to ruminate and regurgitate. When will it ever end?
The way you turn off your mind is different. As I’ve mentioned before, your mind can’t not do something. It can only do something else. So if you turn everything off but leave your mind “on,” you will continue to be held captive to the craziness around you. But since you’ve shut off your supply of information, it becomes even worse than before because you don’t know. So you turn everything back on to catch up on all that you missed. Do you live in this cycle?
Do This Instead
The key to turning off your mind is to redirect it to something else so that you can relax and apply your full concentration. For instance, you could
- Put together a puzzle with your children, watching how they think and act. Observe how they experience both failure and success. And monitor yourself: remember to slow down your breathing and movement. Completing the puzzle is not a race, a competition, or to be completed efficiently.
- Pick up your musical instrument just to tune it up, play a scale or a simple tune. If you allow yourself to be preoccupied doing that, you focus your attention in a different direction.
- Read something that takes your imagination and runs away with it.
- Get your body moving and apply your concentration to your activity. Notice which muscles your body uses, flexing and relaxing, breathing, etc.
I watched a YouTube video about thinning paint to use in my spray gun. The guy told me to feel the viscosity of the paint, taking my time and relaxing as I stir. So I did and I found that spray painting was much more enjoyable as I powered down and concentrated on the task at hand.
Just about any task or activity will work, as long as you focus on being relaxed and apply your full concentration. You are better able to re-engage your work at hand with renewed energy and concentration. It is a conscious discipline that, when applied and practiced, will greatly reduce your stress. You will learn to turn off your mind from the vicious cycle of ruminating and regurgitating and get back into control—all by turning off your mind.
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