Stress release

Just slow down

Lewis Carroll put the feeling of spinning chaos that comes from go-go-going too fast in a nutshell when he wrote of “life becoming a spasm and history a whiz”. Sometimes you spend days just rushing from one meeting or task to the next, but no matter how hard you push yourself, you still end up feeling as if you haven’t accomplished anything. As an experiment, see if you can make a conscious effort to slow down – both your thinking and your actions. If you do this, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that, despite your slower speed, you will become far more effective, as well as more relaxed. Try these tips when things get out of control:

  • Desert a crisis A quick and easy way to clear your head during stressful periods is to physically remove yourself. Take yourself away from the problem environment – your house, or your office, for instance – and walk around for at least five minutes.

  • Drop everything Occasionally allow yourself to do absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch. Discard your to-do list, put away your plans, and forget about the news. Instead, look out the window and watch the world go by, or stretch out on your bed and daydream.

  • Relish your privacy Consider these exquisitely wise words from Chinese philosopher La-tzu: “Just remain in the centre, watching. And then forget that you are there.” Take time to just be. Cutting yourself off from the world not only relaxes you, it can help you to achieve inner peace and enable you to clear your head for solving any unresolved work or emotional problems. The next time you are given a few delicious free moments – you get off work a little earlier than usual, you’re alone in the house for an hour before the kids come home, you’ve got 30 minutes before a meeting – try not to immediately fill it with crossing things off your to-do list. Simply stop.

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