Balance Archives

The Quality of a Good Break

We’ve all heard of the benefits of taking a break, but the quality of a break will determine whether you receive the benefits of it or not. Have you ever taken a break at work and spent the time listening to a co-worker complain about problems? You may have left that break more drained and stressed than when you started it.

For the last year and a half, I’ve had an extreme fatigue illness. Most of that time, I laid on the couch. Even a simple task like grocery shopping was way more than I could do. I filled my time with listening to and participating in audio courses. It gave me a sense of purpose and kept my mind off of my extreme exhaustion. I needed to make sure I didn’t sleep too much during the day, otherwise I would lie awake at night not being able to sleep. (I wouldn’t wish this on anyone!)

One thing I found lying on that couch was that I still needed breaks. But relaxing on the couch wasn’t really a break for me. It didn’t give me what I needed. This experience brought me to a new level of consciousness of what was important to me in a break. I realized I needed a sense of refreshment and enjoyment, but I wasn’t clear on what I could do in those circumstances to get that. I needed something that didn’t take much energy.

This is what I discovered. One way to look at a break is to ask myself whether the break is a mental or sensual experience. If I’m doing a lot of mental work, like listening to audio courses, taking a sensual break—enjoy essential oils, the smell and taste of a cup of tea, listening to music I enjoy, looking at something beautiful, or asking my husband to rub my feet—was exactly what I needed. It gave me that refreshment and enjoyment I was looking for.

My work was mental, so taking a sensual break refreshed me. But for someone who does sensual work like a massage therapist, a cook, or an artist, doing something mental—reading a book or listening to a talk—may be what refreshes them.

So if you’re finding that even though you take breaks you’re not feeling that balance you would expect, experiment with whether you’re needing a sensual or mental activity for your break.

My Word of the Year

Each year I like to choose a word as a theme to focus on during the year. I find it much simpler than a full New Year’s resolution. And because it’s simple, it’s been more powerful in my life.

For 2013, I chose “ground”. At the beginning of 2013, I was working at making significant changes in my life. Change, even for the better, can feel disorienting. So I wanted to focus on being as grounded as I could as I made my changes.

Life had an interesting way of bringing the quality of groundedness to me—a way I never would have predicted nor chosen.

One day in May, I woke up tired. The next day, I was even more tired. My tiredness continued to grow until, by the end of July, I spent full days lying on the couch. My brain was even too tired to think. I was in a fog.

I had to quit working. I couldn’t help around the house. I couldn’t do all the fun activities I was used to—dancing, socializing, hiking, art. I had to totally let go.

What I found in letting go is a sense of support from life.

Lap cat 017

This is my view most days. My cat likes his new bed ;-)

The doctor I’d been seeing the last couple years happen to specialize in fatigue illnesses. He prescribed a gentle homeopathic remedy that cleared my mind and gave me a tiny bit more energy. My husband stepped up and took over the grocery shopping and cooking and is supporting me in my healing process.

I met someone at a business training in June who introduced me to a fabulous tool that helps people get more in touch with their authentic self and teaches them ways of living that work really well. (I’ll be talking more about that in future posts.) This tool has helped me tremendously in navigating this phase of my life.

Through this newfound tool, I found a group which is supporting me during my down time. It’s also giving me tools that I can use in the future to live in ways that would make it less likely I’d get sick like this again. You see, I had this same illness in 2009.

I realize life is giving me everything I need. And that feels grounding to me. My roots securely embedded in trusting life. This is not only a concept in my head, but it’s something I feel throughout my entire body.

I’m seeing how, in the past, I’ve tried so hard to make certain things happen in my life that I had overstepped my part in those particular areas. I was trying too hard. I wasn’t allowing life to bring me what it could if only I’d relax and trust as I do my part and allowed life to do it’s part.

I’m still very exhausted as a result of my illness and spend the majority of my days on the couch, but I have a sense of peace about this phase of my life. That there’s a purpose and that I’m being taking care of in this purpose.

No More Half-Brained Decisions

How many of us make half-brained decisions?

If you’re someone who makes decisions purely from your head and ignores your emotions or how your body feels as you’re considering your options, you’re making a decision with the left side of your brain and ignoring the right.

If you’re someone who doesn’t take time to gather information or think through your options and instead makes decisions based on how you feel, you’re using the right side of your brain and ignoring left.

Right brain left brainPeople who only use the left side of their brain to make decisions tend to go round and round in their heads trying to figure out which is the best choice. It can be exhausting. And if they ignore how they’re feeling about their options, chances are they’ll end up making a decision that doesn’t really work well for them.

Those who only use the right side of their brain and skip collecting the information they need and skip spending time thinking logically through their options can end up making decisions they later regret after getting more information.

In both these cases, people are making half-brained decisions.

We’ve been give 2 sides to our brain for a reason, and each side has an important role in our decision-making process.

The left brain’s role is to collect the information you need to make a good decision. Then it can logically think about your options.

Your right brain synthesizes the information your left brain collected and communicates it to you through your emotions and feelings in your body.

Both sides are important.

An excellent way to make decisions is to:

  1. Collect the information you need to be informed on what you’re deciding.
  2. Think through the information you’ve collected logically and see what you’re left brain has to say about it.
  3. Then connect with how your body feels and what emotions you’re experiencing as you think through each option.
  4. The option that feels the best in your body and emotions after doing the steps above will be the best choice you can make with the information you currently have.
  5. If none of the options feel right in your body and emotions, you may need more information or more options. Talking through what doesn’t seem right with someone can help clarify things too.

Now, the emotional part can be tricky. And this is why many people are afraid to wade into the emotional territory when making decisions. When we’re in extreme emotions, we don’t make good decisions. Think about the last decision you made when you were really angry at someone you love. I bet you regretted it.

Ideally, when we need to make a decision, we work toward a more neutral place with our emotions before seriously considering our options. And if strong emotions come up, we examine what’s behind those emotions. They’re trying to tell us something. Taking the time to process them before actually making the decision is important so that those strong emotions don’t hijack our decision-making process.

A word about fear. A good decision can still be a scary one. Don’t let fear stop you. It’s normal to feel some fear when we’re trying something new.

Even if you tend to be more left-brained or right-brained, using your whole brain you will make better decisions.

The Importance of Taking Time to Reflect

Last night, I went to a meeting of entrepreneurs. There were people there who appeared to have the primary focus of making money, and what they did to earn that money didn’t really matter. Their work was secondary.

For me, my work is primary. I love what I do. I want to be able to share it with as many people as I can. Making money is a tool for me to be able to do my work. For the people I met last night, it was the opposite. Doing their work is a tool for them to make money. It felt really odd interacting with them. It was as if they were standing on their heads talking to my feet as I talked with their feet.

Since leaving the meeting, I’ve taken time to reflect on what I experienced there. Seeing the contrast between their approach and mine helped me become more clear about where I am at with money and where I want to go with it.

Thinking womanIn the past, I have been wary of becoming a slave to money. I lived a very simple life with low expenses so that I could easily leave a job and not feel trapped. Recently, I’ve wanted to come to a more empowered place with money. Taking time to reflect on where I’m at with it and deciding where I want to go is key to getting me there.

I believe having healthy money attitudes is important to enjoying life and work. It’s a tool to help us flourish. Last night’s experience was a gift for me to become more aware of my attitudes toward money. And the clearer I am about money, the more powerfully I can act when it comes to money.

It can be scary to take the time to reflect. We think we’ll get behind in all those things we have to do. But in reality, not reflecting keeps us slaves to our to-do’s. We blindly do them without looking at the big picture and examining if they’s supporting what we really want, and we can’t know what we really want unless we take time to reflect.

If I didn’t take the time to reflect, in this case, on my attitude toward money, I would continue to stay stuck in my old approach of avoiding becoming a slave to it. Taking this time to reflect is giving me an opportunity to develop a new way that’s more aligned with what I want now.

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