Recently, I was working with a client frustrated by his own rapid and negative thinking, anxiety, and a pressing sense of what he "should and shouldn't do." His day-to-day life consistently felt stressful and overwhelming.
Although his situation was extreme, it's similar to complaints I hear from many people about the stresses of modern life.
I said to this client that, regardless of any other action he takes, he needed to learn how to slow down and relax. Now, the concept of "slow down and relax" is relatively simple, but knowing the Hows, Whats, and Whens can be challenging.
We came up with a short-list of specific activities he could do to slow his thinking and activity throughout the day: do a meditative exercise upon waking, take mini-breaks every hour to 90 minutes (stop what you're doing, walk to a window or outside, breathe, clear your mind stretch, relax; then, after a few minutes, go back to it), have "wind down" activities before bed, and attach a mindfulness exercise to a daily activity (showering, driving, going to the bathroom).
So, in the days that followed this client session, I became more aware of opportunities to give myself a mini-break, to slow down and relax.
One day, I was looking at a desk toy that my sister had given me many years ago. When you turn the toy upside down, two different color liquids glide through the clear liquid, making dripping shapes and bouncing off of one another.
I'd never thought much of it. It's not very exciting to look at. It lasts only 15 seconds or so. And it's not THAT pretty or interesting!
However on this particular day, I'd been working hard and feeling tired, and I needed a diversion. I flipped the toy over, and surrendered to its colors, letting go of everything else. I lost myself in the sight of the red and blue dripping bubbles. Ahhhhhh!
I had misjudged this toy. I originally thought it should entertain me. Instead, I realized that it was a pleasant focal point designed to relax me. When I returned to work a minute or so later, I felt slightly refreshed.
Do this once during your work day, and it won't have much of an overall effect. Yet, if you find a half dozen pleasant and interesting ways to slow down, refocus, clear your mind, and relax throughout your day, it will set the stage for getting rid of that oppressive sense of being driven and overwhelmed, making things feel more manageable and even enjoyable.
Just take 15 seconds and watch...!