The benefits of interrupting busyness
Most of us have experienced times when we have felt stressed, lacked energy or focus, decided to take a break, to then come back feeling refreshed and ready to get going again.
The decision to take a break is our natural way to switch off the autopilot mode. The power of that simple action to interrupt your busy day has been well researched. That short period of downtime is enough to recharge your body and reset your brain improving attention, memory, creativity and performance.
Although it may not be feasible to take lots of breaks during your day, it is possible to regularly switch off the autopilot and - Take Notice. Autopilot is a doing, task orientated mode - you’re in your head. Take Notice is an awareness skill to get out of your head, and in to the present moment - being mindful. Evidence of the physical, psychological, and social benefits of mindfulness continues to grow. To quote Jon Kabat-Zinn
“There are few people I know on the planet who couldn't benefit more from a greater dose of awareness.”
Introducing Take Notice into your day could be a game changer. Once you start, you’ll be amazed how this simple action can help you tune in to how your environment and your actions are impacting your mind and body. In 30 seconds to 2 minutes you can get out of your head, in to the present moment and reap the benefits mini mindfulness moments can bring.
Remembering to take notice can be difficult to put into action at first. Persevere, the good news is, this awareness skill strengthens over time with practice. There are many ways and opportunities to Take Notice and reap the benefits of interrupting busyness. Here are a few 30 second - 2 minute suggestions to get you started.
Check -in: If nothing else this is the one to use regularly at any time of the day. Try it after a meeting, disagreement, a long hard day. The check- in helps to tune in to how your environment and actions are impacting you physically, mentally and emotionally.
Here's how: Stop, close your eyes and ask yourself. What is the speed of my mind or thoughts? How does my body feel - tired, is there tension anywhere? Is my breath shallow, rapid, long, smooth? What emotion am I feeling at this moment? That’s it - once you’ve checked in you have the information to either go back to autopilot or try one of the suggestions below to help address anything you have noticed.
Breathe: Wherever you are, at work, dinner, stuck in traffic, whatever the circumstances, take a long deep breath. Deep, relaxing breathing slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, turns down the “fight-or-flight” response and turns up the “rest & digest”system. A few deep breaths is also a powerful way to help take the edge off anxious moments and a great way to calm both the body and mind.
Name that emotion: Whatever you are feeling name it, Angry, Nervous, Sad. This simple technique of labelling your feelings can ease emotional pain in a nanosecond. Studies by UCLA revealed that putting feelings into words makes our feelings less intense as it shifts some of our brain activity from the emotional areas to the thinking areas of the brain. Secondly it was found, labelling those feelings in a mindfulness practice has a greater effect.
Listen: Walking the dog, checking your mail or on the train home - just for a minute - stop and listen. Ceasing physical motion, tuning in and allowing your environment to come alive around you can momentarily slow down a whirling mind. Wind, birdsong, city noises, office noise, kids at play. Let the sounds fill your field of your attention and choose to be a spectator for that minute. Then watch how your mind quickly comes back online when you return to motion.
Use your senses: Reconnect all your senses into the physical moment you’re in. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, notice: