It goes without saying that relaxing is much easier said than done. But why is that? For many working individuals and entrepreneurs, this is because relaxation seems to require at least a small amount of time dedicated to its practice, and this is difficult for the working person. Ultimately, taking time away from your work life to focus on you is the best way to ensure your own happiness and longevity. However, relaxation can be practiced in any setting and with any amount of time. This is because relaxation is just as much of a mindset as it is an action. What it comes down to is understanding when your brain needs a break and taking the steps to give your brain that break. But how do you give your brain that break while continuing to engage in your busy schedule? Well (say it with me now), everyone is different. What works for you might not work for someone else. However, there are a few techniques that we have found helpful for giving your brain the break that it is asking for. So, give yourself some time during the workday to experiment with these practices to see which ones work best for you.
It seems so simple. Of course, you need to breathe. It is vital to being alive. However, there is a difference between simply breathing and being mindful of your breathing. Studies upon studies have been conducted on the power of mindful breathing for the brain and the body. Giving your brain a consistent influx of oxygen and giving your chest and lungs a steady rise and fall can work absolute wonders. So, give it a try. There are many different types of breathing exercises available on the internet that can do a plethora of different things. A simple and easy one to try while sitting at a desk or in a meeting is to breathe on an eight-count, breathing in for eight seconds and breathing out for eight seconds for one minute. This slows your breathing to a steadier pace. Focusing solely on your breathing for an entire minute can also settle your mind, giving your brain the space to withdraw from the stress of the day.
Nothing is a better motivator than something to look forward to. This can be as big as a fancy vacation or as small as a nice dinner with your family. Rewards can also work on a micro level as well, and are often an underused way of getting yourself through the work day. Pick out a portable hobby, something you could do in the airport or a library. Maybe you like reading sci-fi novels, coloring in a coloring book, watching sports, or playing a game. Bring your reward to work and give yourself intermittent goals throughout the day. If you have a longform project, try breaking it up into milestones. Once you have set up these four or five daily goals, set aside a few minutes post-achievement to celebrate. Read a chapter of your book. Play one quick round of your favorite phone game. Giving yourself something to look forward to after each goal is achieved gives you a reason to push forward during the day. And the reward itself gives your brain a small breather by allowing it to focus on something pleasurable that has no stakes attached to it.
Again, it seems super self explanatory. Of course you need to eat and drink in order to keep going. Your body literally requires it. Remember what we talked about with breathing though. Mindful eating is completely different than just eating. It is very tempting as a busy person to use a lunch or snack break as a time to catch up on things. However, there is a lot of power in simply taking the time to eat without focusing on doing anything else at the same time. During your meal breaks, give yourself the challenge to not focus on anything work related. Simply enjoy the food you are eating and let yourself breathe. While it’s fun to eat and socialize or eat and do something pleasurable like watching a video, sometimes even focusing on that can keep your brain in a state of work. Sometimes the best thing to do when practicing mindful eating is simply using your meal break as a quiet space, a space in which you can focus on letting your body digest what you’re eating and letting your brain digest the day. It’s a simple practice, but it does more than you’d expect.
Relaxation is elusive, particularly if you are in the work field. Sometimes, it feels like there is never time during the day to let your brain cool down. The key is making time. After all, you cannot be productive with an overheated brain. So, make pockets of time in your schedule, even just a minute, to test out these techniques and put yourself in a more balanced mindset to push forward.