I've encountered countless articles, case studies, even keynote addresses that speak to the power of the mind/body connection. As the owner of a business for which this is the foundation, it obviously brings a smile to my face. While this term "mind/body connection" may seem a bit abstract, what it really bottles down to is that when you're physically stuck, your mind gets stuck as well. Think about it: why would your thoughts be running a marathon if you're sitting around all day? Movement of body and movement of mind are directly related, and when you accept and embrace this, transformation happens. You have to learn to allow "lightness" to enter your mind and body, something that allows you to lead a more vibrant life. Lack of movement causes "heaviness" both on the scale and in your thoughts.
Consider the term "writer's block," the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing. I was experiencing this very sensation while drafting this post until I realized that "writer's block" is just another way of saying "stuck thoughts." I ultimately did find my solution to this problem, but the journey there reshaped this very article, and I'm writing now to share with you little ways to "unstick" your life. Let's go on a little journey together: a day in the life of being stuck (and how to deal!).
Before Lunch: Somewhere between your second cup of coffee and lunch, it hits you: "Everything's been going pretty well today! The breakfast meeting went well and I've got a full to-do list, but it seems manageable. But wait, where is Rachel's* half of the project proposal?!" We all know where this is going. "Rachel" has dropped the ball a bit and now you have to help clean up the mess. Because both of you are on this project, you should really take on an extra load of this work to stay on track, but at first, it may seem overwhelming. What to do? First of all, don't take it out on "Rachel." The problem is in motion, and a workplace tiff won't speed the solution. Chances are, you need a little time to collect your thoughts, regroup and re-energize before you get to it.
Go outside. Such a simple thing -- 20 minutes outdoors -- can make a big difference in the way of productivity. With a clear mind, you'll have the drive and desire to fully understand and embrace your day. In fact, you may find this little burst of air and exercise not only refreshing but inspiring!
Midday Slump: For me, this is about 3 p.m. I'm often hungry, a little tired or even overwhelmed by what should get done by 6 p.m. Maybe you've been on the phone all day long -- in meetings, talking to clients, planning an event, ordering supplies, you name it. You've been talking to so many other people today, you may not have had time to check in with yourself!
Take a breather. Literally. Take a full five minutes to unplug, unwind and check in with yourself. Turn off the volume on your computer, put your phone on silent, dim the lights if you want. This five-minute mini-meditation is all you need to get over this midday slump. This time isn't about ignoring your thoughts or trying to erase them entirely. It's simply a time to observe them. Let your thoughts pass through your mind like you're watching a movie -- you may be surprised where they take you!
The Final Hour: 5 p.m. on a Wednesday. You know what it's like, feet aching from your heels, lower back sore from sitting at your desk, eyes a little tired from staring at the computer screen.
Give yourself a little break: stretch. If you can, switch into sneakers before the commute home, pop into the stairwell and use the steps to stretch out your calves. Take a "rag doll" stretch to release your back and neck. While it is the end of your work day, you likely have several more things to do this evening -- be it cooking dinner, going to your child's basketball game or running errands -- so take a moment to treat your body to a little decompression. Countless little movements can be done in the office, at home, even right in your desk chair that allow you to be more physical and thus focused through the last minute of the day. For example, climb up and down the stairs, stand up and stretch; you could even occasionally switch your seat for a stability ball. When you are physically healthy, you have the confidence and strength to clear your mind.
Bedtime Blues: Call it what you want -- bedtime blues, seasonal affective disorder, cabin fever -- by 9 p.m. after a long day, you can get both mentally and physically exhausted. Tomorrow seems daunting, so it's hard to even look forward to the fun plans you have this weekend! While there's no quick fix for these feelings -- except maybe a good night's sleep! -- you can use this opportunity to say thank you. Don't let the day weigh you down. Take a few minutes before bed, and find just one thing to be grateful for. You can thank yourself, your husband, your children, your boss. You could even thank "coffee" for keeping you alert during morning meeting! I'll admit that sometimes after a hard day, giving thanks can seem impossible. If that's the case, try to think of one thing that could have gone worse, and then be grateful that it didn't! This small moment of gratitude can serve as both acceptance of the day and motivation for tomorrow's "to dos".
It's plain and simple: sitting behind a desk all day can deplete your energy, leave you uninspired, and inhibit your productivity. That does not sound like an ideal workday! For me and my writer's block, the only solution seemed to be a change of environment, so I took my "stuck thoughts" and "stuck body" to the park. And before I knew it, with fresh air in my lungs and heart pumping more rapidly, the ideas came flooding in. Don't ever try to "run on empty." Neither your body nor your mind will thank you for it, and there are so many easy, small changes you can make that make a big impact. Incorporating mental and physical exercises into your day allows you to take steps (literally!) towards a healthier you, rewarding workplace and a happier life.