5 Minutes of Calm: Hit CTRL ALT DELETE on Overwhelm
I’m guessing that right now, one word you could describe for your life is BUSY. It’s a word we all use to describe how we’re feeling, which if you read underneath the ‘B’ word is usually one – or all – of the following: ‘stressed out’, ‘entirely overwhelmed’, ‘freaking exhausted’, ‘hanging on by the tips of my fingers’.
We’re all busy (read, each of the above statements), more so than ever before. It can feel like it doesn’t matter how many hours you had, there’s never enough of them for getting everything done on the never-ending to do list. Let alone, trying to be a brilliant (or even effective) parent / friend / colleague / boss / creative business entrepreneur / life saver / human being. So, when it comes to looking after ourselves, self care is so far down the list it’s fallen off the page. Then, we feel even worse because we get in a tail spin from all the things we think we should be doing, like eating healthily every meal, going to the gym more than twice during January, getting the perfect yoga crow pose or eight angle pose (read, never!) Add into this the crazy of Christmas, and it’s enough to combust out of your bauble jumper in a puff of Baileys on ice.
This is why self care at the time of year (as well as each and every day) is so important. Now, more than ever, is the time to make sure that oxygen mask is well and truly donned, to make sure you are well cared for when you most need it. If the idea of adding self care to your never-decreasing list of obligations, then read on, because all it takes is 5 minutes of calm throughout the day to help bring you back down into your body. So, here’s five of my go-to tools and exercises for hitting ctrl alt delete as often as possible throughout the day.
Squeeze and release – the mindful way
Mindfulness is a great way to bring us back to our present. It also helps to reduces stress and lower blood pressure. There’s lots of useful simple mindfulness techniques out there, but one of my favourites is a mindfulness body scan and progressive relaxation technique. To do this, simply tense and release each muscle and body part from your toes all the way through your body to the top of your head. This technique will bring you back into your body, and help you achieve a state of calm, physically and emotionally.
Breathe with me
Possibly the most important thing to bring you back to yourself, and to get you grounded back into your body. Again, there’s lots of great breathing exercises out there. My favourite is the Nadi Shodhana, otherwise known as alternate nose breathing. To do this place you first and second finger on your forehead, in between your brow, close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply. At the top of your breath close your left nostril with your ring finger on your right hand and exhale deeply. Enjoy for 5 minutes of calming as it connects both the left and right side of the brain’s hemisphere. It’s also great as an alternative to a cup of coffee in the morning, or instead of reaching for a sugar pick-me-up at that 3pm afternoon lull time.
Top & tail your day
It’s so easy to reach for our devices first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. In fact, it’s not just habit, it’s the brain being addicted to the dopamine hit we get when we answer and email, or text, or hit ‘continue watching’ on a Netflix binge. But, screen addiction causes more anxiety and overwhelm, as we all know. So, let’s help out our central nervous systems by starting and ending the day in a more nurturing way. You could start your day with some simple breathing techniques, and setting your day with a positive intention. Do the same at the end the day by enjoying breathing and gratitude, or setting your dreams an intention to bring light to any challenges you might be going through.
Fill your senses
I love that mindfulness is known as “pure fascinated attention”, so go on a date with your senses to get fascinated by what you put your attention to. My favourite senses exercise is the 5,4,3,2,1 technique. Step outside, or sit where you are, and become aware of five things you can see, then five things you can hear, followed by five things you can feel. Then move to four see, hear and feel. Then three, then two, then one. That’s five minutes of calm and grounding back in right there.
Yes, that’s right. You read me correctly. Do. Nothing. Doing nothing is one of the best ways to bring pause into your day, and allows your body and brain to settle so that you naturally find creative solutions for getting all that stuff done you need to do. Or even better, realising that you don’t really need to do it all. My favourite doing nothing techniques (AKA creative mindfulness), include staring into space, sitting on the beach and observing the waves, or laying down and watching clouds form changing shapes. Get outside and look up into the sky, enjoy doing nothing to help you bring you back into yourself.