Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
It can seem as if we always have more things to tend to — some unfinished task, meeting to be at or email to respond to — another obstacle to overcome then we can start living or enjoying our day. Until we realize that those tasks are what make up our lives.
Burnout, exhaustion, and stress are a sign of our times, a modern epidemic in the world of getting ahead and constant connectivity to our devices, jobs, and online activities. When we live in this state of overdrive, always going and doing, we feel stress, fear and near panic, never having enough hours in the day. Often it can be difficult to recall how we even spent our time, not being fully present in any activity, instead going on autopilot to just “get it done.”
We have good intentions when we plan to do more exercise, meditate, go on a juice cleanse or spend more time with our loved ones — to do more of what makes us feel good. However, these things that nourish or replenish us can be the most difficult to prioritize. It’s not easy to fit a 90-minute yoga class into an already packed schedule. When we feel burnt out or exhausted, we tend to give up things that we categorize as optional, and are only left with the aspects that create more stress in our lives.
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
There are simple ways to prevent the feeling of being on an ever-moving treadmill, ways to create more space so that you can experience and feel things that are new and different in days that tend to feel the opposite. It’s amazing the difference of being fully present in an activity. For example, remember the last time you danced, sang your favorite song or had a heartfelt cry — you are fully engaged and not thinking. That is what complete presence feels like.
Here are seven simple ways to feel a sense of renewal and add a layer of presence into how you spend your time, without having to do less, but doing it with more meaning:
1. Set your alarm and get up 20 minutes earlier and do anything you want that you enjoy that does not include any technology and gets you out of bed: read, stretch, meditate, make your favorite smoothie, or do an extended at-home beauty routine.
2. Do an easy meditation right as you are getting out of bed in the morning. Put your feet on the ground, close your eyes, and starting with your feet feel every part of your body as you work your way up to the top of your head. This moves your attention from your mind into your body to create more awareness and slow down your thinking.
3. Do simple tasks in opposite ways, this allows new energy to flow in and opens you up for opportunity. For example, if you walk out of your building every day and go right, go left. If you always go to the same exercise class, change up the teacher and day.
4. Be completely mindful when doing one simple task every day. If you are cooking a meal, give it your full attention — feel the utensils in your hands, listen to the sounds. If your mind starts to wander, just gently bring it back to what you are doing.
5. Limit social media or take an entire day off. Imagine how much extra time you’d have if you spent only 15 minutes a day on any form of social media or Internet browsing.
6. Do not look at your phone when you walk or are in a taxi. Put it away and pay attention to everything that is going on around you. Look up, listen, and feel the movement of your body. Technology is an important part of our lives, but you are never present when you are taping away on your phone.
7. Set a timer on your phone or computer for every hour or two, take a one minute break from work or whatever activity you are doing and do simple deep breathing. One way to do this is to inhale for a count of five, hold for five, exhale for five, and hold for 5. When you are breathing deeply, it gives you a break from constant thinking. Feel the difference after this minute versus before.