Remember the summers of your childhood when it felt like you had months to just goof off? That may seem a distant memory when you’re facing a news story deadline or have a voiceover to finish. Well, it turns out goofing off can improve your life, so what better time to start than right now?
“Time off is what your brain thrives on,” according to Beth Janes’ article in Health magazine (3/17). I’ve been telling clients this for decades. Downtime is when the brain recharges.
Think of the constant onslaught of information coming from the Internet, email, news stories, conversation, and our own busy thoughts. We’re asking our brains to digest all of this every second of every day. We need to shut this off for a time if we want to recharge.
How do we do this? I’m going to offer two ways that can be effective and pleasurable.
The first is meditation. Now don’t panic and think I’m about to send you off to a silent retreat for a week. Meditation is a simple process of learning to detach from your thoughts for a few minutes. If you’re new to this concept, check out Headspace.com or their free app which trains you how to meditate in a fun ten days. These short, three-minute sessions will make meditation seem easy!
Meditation can be as simple as taking a few seconds to focus on breathing. I’ve found a new way to do this recently on the website Calm.com or their free “Calm” app. It has a clever breath exercise where you can set the pace of your breathing and follow a graphic they offer that includes a short period of holding your breath between your intakes of air. Yogis have used this pattern of breathing for centuries to calm the mind.
The next method of emptying the mind doesn’t involve totally aiming for no thoughts. Instead, you fill your mind with thoughts that cause the relaxation mode to kick in.
This is what visualization can do for you, and it’s really like daydreaming. Simply think of an event like your last vacation and recreate the feelings in your mind. Imagine your toes sinking into the grass or the sand you walked on. Feel the cool or warm breeze hitting your face. Put yourself back in the event as much as you can and soak up the feeling. You can do this for a few seconds looking at a photograph or for a half hour when you have that much time. Either way, let yourself escape from your phone, your work, and your day, and enjoy the visualization. (If you find this difficult, Calm.com and Headspace.com both have guided visualizations you can use for free.)
So take some time this summer to give your brain the break it needs so badly to work at its optimum level. Your stress level will go down and your ability to keep your life working effectively will go up. A win, win, I’d say!
For more on both breathing relaxation and visualization click here to instantly download my ebook, Broadcaster’s Survival Guide. It’s only $4.95, and includes loads more information!