Auto-pilot has become a norm in our society; meaning that, at times when we are busy, our thoughts (mostly unproductive) uncontrollably race allover the place, and distract us from efficiently completing tasks. I am not a psychiatrist, but I know from my own experience that racing thoughts coupled with a growing to-do list create anxiety. Then when it's time to calm down and relax at night, my brain is still "on" and won't just chill out!
I've found that utilizing the approaches below to keep calm during the day keep me focused on achieving my goals, allow me to connect more effectively with friends/peers and will ultimately help me be able to relax and sleep at night (and maybe even allow me to take a lunch break). Otherwise, I find that the stress/anxiety accumulates throughout the day and then becomes increasingly difficult to calm down.
- Yoga/Breathing/Stretching - if you have the ability to work from home, or you can even do this at the office (in the bathroom or at your desk as silly as it sounds), take a break to breathe and stretch. This reconnects your mind with your body and allows you to "check-in" with yourself. It has an instant calming effect that will help you refocus your mind on what is most important to complete. Try this for just 30 seconds and see what happens. Full yoga classes are also great for focus, but typically are not convenient during the day. I try to take a class at least once a week - the focus it takes to hold yoga poses is mentally and physically exhausting as well as an extremely rewarding serene escape from the daily grind.
- Make lists - I'm sure some of you do this religiously, but I put everything I need to do either on paper or on my Outlook calendar. This way, when you do take breaks, you can look at your list and make sure you're keeping your priorities straight. Reminders in Outlook/Cell Phone/Gmail/etc... are extremely helpful when a task has a deadline. And even the things I need to do in the next month that pop into my head, I put on my list. Then I know I won't forget them later on. At times where I have probably too much going on, I keep a list on my nightstand in case I think of something before I go to sleep (or worse, wake up thinking about something I need to do!!!). This will help prevent you from worrying about these things while you sleep, or allow you to go back to sleep quickly. Crossing things off the list is also extremely satisfying. Lists can get long, but having faith in yourself (you've made it this far in life without screwing up too badly, and the fact that you have a long list shows that someone/multiple people trust(s) you to complete your responsibilities) that you will accomplish the tasks on your list and keep you from becoming too overwhelmed.
- Pause to ask yourself what you're doing - The article talk about viewing yourself from outside your body. Take a step back from your cell phone apps, or the computer screen and ask what you are thinking about. Is the thought worthwhile? Do you need to refocus? Are you going in circles on a task that you need to complete? Can you ask someone for help? These are all good questions to ask yourself in order to create self-awareness and stay focused.
- Place little reminders around your home or office to encourage breathing and laughing. The pace of our breathing can change constantly all day long depending on many different variables. I've found it helpful to have a sign in my mirror reminding me to just breathe. This slows me down and reassures me that everything will be OK! A reminder to laugh is always helpful because when things get tough, laughter has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and reminds you that things will get better.
- Listen to music - I love Norah Jones or Michael Buble after a stressful day. They both take me away to another place and help transfer my mood into relax mode.
- Candles - scented or unscented, they both create calming effects. Lavender in particular is known to relax people.
- Massage - this is a more expensive idea, and I typically reserve these for special occasions, but when you are stressed, a massage shifts focus to your muscles (kind of similar to yoga, only that you're not exerting the energy:)) which can be extremely relaxing.
What techniques help you calm down during or at the end of the day? What musical artists do you listen to? What's your favorite place to get a massage? Favorite yoga studio? Please share your tips & tricks because we can all learn from them! If you haven't tried any of the above techniques, I hope they help you!
Link to article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-wise-brain/201403/rest-your-weary-head