Too many people are under the false impression that it is a virtue to work yourself to the point of exhaustion. This is damaging in so many ways to the mind, body and spirit, but ultimately the real irony is that by overexerting ourselves, we eventually damage the quality of our work. If we really want to be productive, we have to incorporate relaxation techniques that focus on removing stress and anxiety from our lives.
We all have to deal with the pressures of balancing our personal responsibilities with our professional ambitions, so if you feel like you are constantly deciding between what sacrifices to make, trust us, you’re not alone.
Technology was supposed to make life simpler. However, our dreams of automated cars and live-in robot maids like Rosie from the Jetsons haven’t yet panned out for us. Instead, what we have are a flood of status updates, a 24/7 news media with constant breaking news, emails, Facebook messages, Tweets, Snapchats, text messages, Netflix, Hulu Plus etc . The point is while we have greater access to information and tools for communicating, it’s also easy to get addicted to the routine of constantly checking into what may be happening elsewhere.
No one is advocating for a call to be a Luddite, I think we all understand the digital world is here to stay, but you have to make it work for you. It’s important every so often throughout the day, to press the reset button, and take a break from world. Here are two tips to avoid it becoming a distraction:
- Wake up offline: What’s the first thing we do in the morning? For a lot of people it’s shutting off the alarm on their phone. Then since it’s right there, the next thing we notice are the messages, the notifications, the onslaught is already in progress, we’re already distracted, and the stress starts immediately. This is the pattern we have to break away from. Wake up with clearness of mind, allow yourself to focus on the important goals you have in mind for that day, and what needs done for that to happen.
- There’s an app for that: Fine, call me a hypocrite for advocating an app to monitor your time, but whatever works, right? Binary Hammer’s 30/30 (iOS) is a time management system built around the 30/30 work cycle concept, which alternates between work and rest in 30-minute increments. It’s based upon the idea that productivity and creativity increase when we are intensely focused on a project for relatively small amounts of time.
Fuel Yourself with Tea Instead
If we have a lousy car, generally we don’t care what kind of gas we use, usually it’s the cheapest available. But when we have a nice ride that we value, we tend to give it the best treatment we can. Think of your body in the same way. I’m certain you don’t want to think of yourself as a beater, one that can break down at any moment, and won’t end up getting you anywhere. You want to be a finely tuned machine, able to hit on all cylinders. With that in mind, think about kicking the coffee habit, and drinking tea instead.
Too much caffeine from coffee has been shown to cause anxiety, jitters, muscle spasms and restlessness. Like other drugs, our tolerance for caffeine can increase to the point, where if we try to go without it, we experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is a productive way to get things done. The physical and mental toll is more considerable than you realize.
That’s why many people today are switching to herbal teas rich in antioxidants instead. Chaga tea is one type that is a natural source of B vitamins, and it has exceptionally high levels of vitamin B5. This is because chaga mushrooms absorb the B vitamins from the birch trees they grow on. The chaga mushroom also provides ten times the amount of antioxidants per gram as a pomegranate, which means in addition to providing the body with natural energy, it provides a powerful boost to your immune system, helping your body take on the stresses that come along the day. The different variety of teas are fun to experiment with and to learn more about, so think about making this adjustment as a valuable replacement to coffee.
Practice Breathing Exercises
I know what you’re thinking – I don’t have time for breathing! Or how about –do I really need to practice something I’ve been doing since the minute I was born?
The right responses to those are – yes you do, and yes you do.
The best way to train your body to maintain a sustained state of relaxation and help take on the daily work load is through deep breathing exercises, a technique that dates back to research from Harvard in 1970. The fact that many who begin deep breathing exercises comment on how unnatural it feels shows that without realizing it, we are often breathing incorrectly, which causes us to carry uncomfortable stress with us throughout our body.
When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises. Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial exchange of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide, which can slow the heartbeat and lower blood pressure. As you practice, keep these factors in mind:
- Choose a special place where you can sit (or lie down) comfortably and quietly.
- Don’t try too hard. That may just cause you to tense up.
- Don’t be too passive, either. The key to eliciting the relaxation response lies in shifting your focus from stressors to deeper, calmer rhythms — and having a focal point is essential.
- Try to practice once or twice a day, always at the same time, in order to enhance the sense of ritual and establish a habit.
- Try to practice at least 10–20 minutes each day.
If you incorporate these tips into your daily and weekly routines, you will not only get extra work accomplished, but you will find more enjoyment in the process. The key to productivity is keeping yourself motivated, and the key to motivation is keeping yourself in the right frame of mind, body, and spirit, so with that in mind, go out there and relax!