"How to Relax" and all of Thich Nhat Hanh's wonderful books are a good read during quarantine. If you are just getting into mindfulness, "How to Relax" is a great place to start, as it's a simple short read that reminds us how to breathe into our emotional states.
I often re-read the book and feel that its calm words help ground me in remembering what I already know about being aware of my breath, my feelings, and letting things go in a simple and easy way.
Your Monday self talk mantra: “Even the smallest change in a positive direction leads me to a different outcome. I can make small changes each week and still move forward. Every time I make a choice to think a thought that helps me, I know I am making progress.”
One of my main beliefs is that if you change one small thing in a positive way each week, you will change the way your life is going overall. I like to break things down into simple easy steps. When I don't know how to do a new task or to change a habit, I tell myself, "I'm figuring it out one step at a time" and this usually brings my own stress level down. The self-talk mantra above is good to remind yourself that you are making progress with each small step you take forward. If you can repeat it to yourself frequently, throughout your day, it might just be the boost you need to get you through your day.
Sometimes we think that if we want to change, we have to do it all in one giant leap. This type of thinking often prevents us from getting started with any of our goals because it feels overwhelming. We think we have to be in the right "mindset" to take it all on all at once, and then we freeze up, and wind up not taking any action forward. A different approach that I use is to break things down into simple, easy steps that you can tackle one at a time, at a consistent rate for you. It can be more helpful to take things at your own pace that you can sustain, where you can practice positive patterns consistently, rather than to try to do too much and overwhelm yourself. Small positive changes add up, too. Take things at a pace that you can sustain consistently and trust that progress will happen over time.
When people think of having healthy boundaries, they might think of physical or emotional ones. Time boundaries are often worth considering and looking at, too.
A common problem people seem to be having in quarantine is establishing healthy time boundaries within this surreal situation. Many people find themselves working harder and longer hours from home, without taking actual lunch breaks each day. Many are answering work emails on the weekend now, because they may feel there is an unstated expectation that no one has any other plans now.
It’s important to ask yourself, “What is reasonable in terms of time requests?” Is it reasonable to suddenly not require a lunch break or to work after hours a lot more regularly? Sometimes, it just might depend on the specific situation, such as, it’s a rare request because of a deadline. Other times, it’s possible that you might need to establish clearer time boundaries with yourself and others, and to be a little easier on yourself in this situation. Mental recharge time is important, too, for your own body, mood and energy level.
Think about your time boundaries and expectations lately. Do you see any areas that might need shifting to more positive, healthy patterns?
I led a stress reduction workshop last year during which I led a guided meditation where I asked people to scan their bodies and thank their bodies, at their own pace. At the end, many people said that they were amazed that they had never thought to thank their bodies before, and it was eye-opening for them to experience. We tend to spend a lot of time in our heads, lost in our own thoughts, and it's easy to lose a connection between your body and brain, in terms of how your thinking is causing stress inside your body.
Our bodies do so much for us each day. But instead of praising our bodies, most of us frequently say harsh, critical and negative things to our bodies instead. We can develop a tense relationship with our bodies from doing this over time, and this can cause anxiety and low self esteem. To mend this relationship, learn to feel gratitude and appreciation for all the things your body is doing for you each and every day to keep you healthy and alive. We take our bodies for granted, and the more you think about this, the more you will want to shift your thinking.
To thank your body: Try taking a few minutes each day to mentally scan and say thank you to your body: Start at your head and work your way down to your feet, mentally saying thank you to different parts of your body. Then, listen to your body, feel what your body is feeling, and consciously breathe appreciation into your body with each breath.
A few minutes of appreciating and thanking your body every day can lead to big changes in how you feel about yourself. Have you said thank you to your body today?
Your Monday self talk mantra: “Every week, I take a few steps forward. I can go at my own pace. I can accomplish a few things consistently each week and still make progress. These steps will move me forward.”
When we are anxious, we tend to want to do too many things at once, and to go forward too fast. The pressure we put on ourselves tends to raise our anxiety more, which can make us freeze up completely. Tell yourself that it’s okay to pick your own pace. If you take steps or make positive changes each week consistently, it will add up over time. Try to speak to yourself in a way that is kind and encouraging this week. What encouragement will you give yourself this week?
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I’ve been doing time management coaching with clients for awhile addressing how to adjust to working from home, and now, a lot of people are suddenly finding themselves in this same situation...
While working from home can have a lot of advantages, sometimes, the stress can sneak up on you if you don’t create a clear and consistent structure and try to stick to it each work day.
Create a physical area that your brain associates with “work time”. Some people like to create two separate work areas and move between them throughout the day. This way, when you leave the area, your brain can switch out of “work” mode easier.
Create structure that works for you and keep it consistent. It is very easy when you’re not in an office to just keep working without getting up or taking breaks. Book some breaks and meals into your schedule and keep it consistent.
I use time blocking to help me focus on getting through tasks. Block off chunks of time to only focus on one task at a time.
Mini brain-breaks. This is where you stop working AND checking your phone to actually let your brain rest for short periods of time. Give yourself permission to take breaks. Your brain will thank you!
Establish a time when work is over, and then ACTUALLY stop working. This is the time where you can switch gears to be in the moment more either relaxing or being with your family. What time management tips help you work from home?
Therapist & Coach. Writer & Professor. Brain Trainer.