By: Cynthia Ackrill/your tango.com
Are you ready to wake up from this recurring nightmare? You may need to take part in some mind rest.
The past year has felt like being stuck in one of those classic dreams about showing up completely unprepared for an exam — racing hearts, shallow breathing, confusion, aloneness, and obliterated self-efficacy.
So much has been out of your control, it’s hard to remember what you actually can control.
You’re emotionally and physically exhausted from simply processing all the news, loss, disruption, trauma, and grief, and though things are looking up, there may still a long way to go until we’re out of the woods.
How can you find the kind of hope daylight brings, even in the dark of winter?
Mind rest is essential for your brain’s health.
It’s important to recharge.
And while you may not be able to use the same tools you were using before to keep up the faith, you can capture some really hard-earned lessons of this past year, reflect on what matters most to you, and create a new path forward to honor that.
You can use science and wisdom to build new, realistic strategies to feel more prepared for the challenges ahead. You can heal mind, body and spirt to adapt and grow.
But first, you need rest!
In every class I’ve led in the past few months, I’ve asked participants to describe how they are feeling. Emotions run the gamut, but “exhausted” takes the prize, with “frustrated” a close second.
Your tired, over-stressed brain is not alone. People are hitting the pandemic wall.
Even if you’ve been stuck at home with less to do and are sleeping more or even too much, ask yourself if you’re getting enough truly restorative rest, both in quiet mind time and effective sleep.
The on-and-off boundaries for our minds have been blurred.
Floundering to hold onto focus and purpose takes huge mental and emotional energy, as does regulate the roller coaster of emotions needed to process the news, conflicting information, losses, and uncertainty.
If more rest is what you accomplish in the next month — bravo!
You’re creating a smarter and more resilient mind. Every single one of your cells thanks you. Your mind thanks you. Your heart thanks you. Your family, friends, and co-workers thank you.
Your inner critic will likely rise up kicking and screaming, “Keep busy! Push on! You’re lazy! You’re going to miss your opportunity!” But tell it to go take a nap — you’ve got this!
Your rested mind can make better sense of challenges, hold healthier perspectives, make better choices, keep values and priorities in order, handle stress better, find hope, guide self-healing, create smarter solutions, and be more present for those who matter.
Have three minutes to hit refresh for your brain cells?
Your rested body can repair itself, fight off infections, undo the toxicities of stress, help vaccines work more effectively, and find the energy to do more good in the world.
Here are 10 ways to give your brain some much-needed rest.
1. Start with tiny steps.
No need to panic your brain! Turn off any technology 30 minutes earlier and go to bed 15 minutes earlier.
2. Turn off your smart devices.
Set your “smart whatever” to go off mid-morning and mid-afternoon for a five-minute break. Then, move away from your screens.
Get up and stretch. Rest your eyes by closing them or looking out the window.
3. Do something fun.
Start noticing which activities hit the refresh button for you. Which bog you down?
4. Fix your sleeping patterns.
Study up on sleep hygiene and brainstorm what you might try.Article continues below
5. Try guided meditations.
Give your mind a break. There are so many good apps for this: Insight Timer, Calm, Breethe, Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, Breathwrk, etc.
6. Listen to music.
Music can lift or calm your mental state.
7. Use your senses.
The sense of smell is particularly powerful. Try some calming lavender essential oil.
Take a listening break for five minutes. Turn off all sounds and just notice what’s ambient.
9. Know what your body needs.
When you feel your energy start to dip, don’t automatically reach for the caffeine. What does your body really need?
10. Take part in self-care.
Give up that popular delusion that if you take a break, you’ll lose your focus, mojo, or drive. Trust that you’re refreshing your operating system.
Close a few tabs for your tired brain. Don’t let exhaustion rob you of your gifts. Learning habits to recharge will support your brilliance and resilience for life!
What’s working for you? What’s not?
And how can I help you create your best happy, healthy, whole human life?
Cynthia Ackrill, M.D. is a leader in the field of stress mastery and an expert in the critical connections between lifestyle choices, performance capacities, leadership effectiveness, health, and happiness. For more information, contact her or visit her courses and resources on her website.