We live in such busy times that it can be very difficult to carve out a short time for rest and restoration. However, downtime is crucial to optimal wellbeing. We have two operating systems – one for a peaceful journey through life (Parasympathetic nervous system) and the other for dealing with stress (Sympathetic Nervous system). Ideally we operate under the peaceful journey system most of the time and only turn on the stress response when crucial and then turn it off again. However, increasingly people are operating under stress and duress too often, for too long, and then actually forget how to engage the peaceful rest, repair and restore system.
Know yourself. Become aware of your stress signs when you are under pressure so that you can take intervening action sooner and are better able to manage them. Focus on, and control, what you can control. Reign in unhelpful thoughts that hinder, and instead pay attention to your strengths so you can use them helpfully to assist.
Stop juggling. Multi-tasking, toggling between different things is not effective or efficient and just causes stress. Your brain works optimally when relaxed. Give your energy and focus to one thing at a time.
Exercise and energise. Physical activity in any form is a wonderful way to help reduce stress. Taking time outdoors also lowers the stress response. Engage regularly in those activities that give you joy, energy and feelings of optimism, strength, connection and positive emotion.
Pause. Stop throughout each day as this provides time to switch off being reactive and change into a calmer proactive approach. Call time out when feeling overwhelmed. Get the balance right – work hard, play hard and with equal priority rest ‘hard’.
Finding your calm will significantly boost your health and wellbeing for body, brain and mind.
Article by Dr Nicola Gates, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Psychologist PhD. Nicola is a regular Guest Speaker and Specialty Retreat facilitator at Golden Door.
Nicola runs her own Brain and Mind Psychology boutique clinic in Sydney Level 4, Suite 407, 185 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000. http://www.brainandmindpsychology.com/