We keep working, doing, rushing and getting more and more stressed and less and less productive. It’s at this point you need to sit back in order to move forward
The simple reason you’re not making progress might surprise you. Whether it’s your health, business, relationships or any other area of your life this simple rule applies. The harder you find it to implement the more you need to do it!
I’m talking about relaxation. It is not necessarily the very action of relaxing but what the process leads to and how much more of your brain you can access when in this state.
The body tells us when we need to stop and relax. Last time I was ill I worked through it, turning up everyday tiered and sick but feeling like a soldier. More fool me, a small illness that should have lasted a couple of days hung around for two horrible weeks because I wouldn’t listen. More recently I was Ill and so I went straight to bed, kept warm, nourished myself and was fit and well again in a few days, actually feeling better than BEFORE I got ill.
Well the brain is the same. Sometimes it just needs a rest in order for the fog to clear.
I personally experienced the importance of relaxation after many episodes of writers block. I couldn’t understand that it when it came to sitting in front of my computer or focusing on my business the ideas wouldn’t come. I would rearrange my desk, make coffee, put music on, shuffle around and 3 hours had passed and I hadn’t really done anything. The anxiety would hit. My business was down to me and I wasnt getting anywhere. It’s the horrible feeling of ” I should be doing!” But yet the more I felt I should be doing, the less productive I became. Can you relate to this? I knew I had the information and ideas in my head but I couldn’t access them. But when I was stuck waiting for a friend with no phone or travelling for hours on end in a van across Mexico, the BEST ideas and realisations would come flooding in.
The right hemisphere of your brain relates to visualisation, creativity, dreams, intuition and emotions. The left relates to logic and reason. To maintain a balanced mind and optimum mental resilience we need to use both hemispheres.
This is the simple reason you’re not making progress. The right hemisphere of the brain, which you could call the ‘unconscious’ side can only fully be accessed when we are relaxed. Has ‘sleeping on it’ ever let you down?
With a more demanding work culture and the mass distraction of phones, t.vs and technology its hard to ever come across a reason to switch off from the ‘noise’. ‘Scrolling’ and ‘browsing’, especially in young people, eliminates any opportunity for visualisation and imagination, even day dreaming.
Creativity and visualisation are a crucial part to growth, problem solving, relationships and self-esteem. Without access to this part of the brain we are more likely to feel un-confident, unsure and unsatisfied.
By regularly visualising where we want to be, what we want to create and how we want to feel the more likely we are for our dreams to become reality. No matter what angle you look at it from visualisation boards, meditation or the principle of ‘As you think, so you shall be’, we can not deny the immeasurable benefits of the right hemisphere. There is a reason why people who regularly do yoga or meditation seem to be more grounded, calm and quietly content.
So to ensure you regularly use this part of the brain try any form of relaxation that suits you. This means challenging internal distractions as well as external. No phones, t.v, radio and no intrusive thoughts. Focus on where you want to be, how it would feel, visualise it. Chose some form of relaxation that you can easily fit into your life. We all know the most common forms such as yoga, massages, baths, walks, mediation, art or simple visualisation techniques. But below I list some more that I personally find the most inspiring. Don’t make excuses or feel ‘guilty’ what you’re doing is investing in your future happiness and success and building resilience against anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
A lot of the time we look at what we should be doing, doing, doing in order to move forward. When actually, the answer lies in NOT doing. We keep working, doing, rushing and getting more and more stressed and less and less productive. It’s at this point you need to sit back in order to move forward. No matter how uncomfortable it sits with you, try it just once, and see how new, revitalised and productive you are after.
Sometimes the thought of yoga, meditation, anything that costs money, learning something new or having to turn up to a class can actually create further stress and anxiety. So I have incorporated some of my simple ideas that anyone can fit in at any point. Plus, I’m going to admit something here, unless I’ve done some hardcore exercise or cold to the core… I DON’T LIKE BATHS! (Does that make me some sort of animal?)
Less obvious ways to relax and spark the right hemisphere:
- Go somewhere new. I’m not talking booking a ticket to Hawaii for two weeks. Literally go somewhere reasonably local but with no commitments. Turn off your phone and just leisurely walk around. Grab a coffee. Look through the shops. Being out of your usual environment will free your mind from distractions and demands like the need to check emails, do the washing etc. Get a new perspective.
- One of my favourites, simplest and cheapest ways is to go to my favourite coffee shop on my own! I might write, read or not do anything. Again my phone is off! There is no one to distract me. People watching and feeling like a stranger is very relaxing and you soon start day dreaming
- Ok, so I feel I should add one that does not advice coffee…this is hard. Ok I’ve got one! This one is really strange but oh my days does it work. Be a passenger. When someone you know if going for a reasonable drive say on hour round trip, go with them. I LOVE being in the passenger seat of a car or on a window seat of train. Watching the world go by with no distractions frees the mind to wander. This does mean only going with someone you don’t have to talk to. A coffee is optional 🙂
- I know walking is an obvious one but its the cheapest, simplest way to relax. Again, the running theme here is turning your phone off (still take it with you in case of emergencies, ordering a Uber to get you home doesn’t count). Take a book and some snacks and just lie somewhere like the beach or park and soak in the world around you
So the running themes in general whether its yoga, strange car rides or sitting in a coffee shop, are spending time on your own, somewhere unfamiliar, a little out of your comfort zone and normal routine and away from distractions. That’s what you’re trying to achieve. Maybe you have you’re own quirky ways of doing it already? In which case I’d love to hear them in the comments below.