Like many of you, I have found this year very stressful. Now that we (in the US) are “opening up” there seems to be this sense that all is okay and we “should” feel better. For me, and others I have spoken with, however, the effects of stress are lingering. This makes sense given that the Stress Cycle has 3 stages:
- Alarm- Danger: body churns out cortisol and adrenaline to deal with imminent stress.
- Resistance- fight the good fight for as long as needed
- Exhaustion / burnout.
It is common for exhaustion to kick in when the stressor is winding down or over. The chemicals that have kept us running on fumes are waning and depression, anxiety, and illness can now settle in. This is when a daily practice of self- care is essential! I have experienced an even greater longing for quiet time, Mindfulness meditation, prayer and long walks than during the worst of the Pandemic. I believe that this need for time to quiet the mind and reflect, is in our very nature as humans. It is essential for leaders, entrepreneurs, and stay at home parents. It is essential for all of us in every walk of life. I also believe that too few of us stop to “be”. We are so busy doing!
Since stress is unavoidable, and our technologically connected worlds move very fast, it is essential to have a daily practice of quieting the mind and body. Our bodies, minds and hearts need this time to reboot. For leaders this is particularly important- “think time” is when clarity, insight and innovation can occur.
So, how do we find the time and the ways to tap into this restorative peace, healing and wisdom? Some use formal Mindfulness Meditation practices: even 10 minutes a day every day can be centering and renewing. Some find long walks in nature provide this quiet restoration. Still others find a long run can clear the mind and just allow the body to simply be. Others use music or the arts to help them focus and stop the mind chatter of worry.
Whatever method you choose, I encourage you to make the time to just be. Don’t worry about doing it right… if you are taking the time to find stillness and quiet and your heart rate slows you are probably doing fine.