Mental Downtime Critical to HEALTH & Creativity
Today I read a great article on ScientificAmerican.com describing the virtual necessity of “mentally unwinding” for peak performance and creativity.
Call it meditation, breathing, walking in nature, vacation… anything that will allow your brain to process and sort through all the information and stress we are confronted with on a daily basis in our busy lives.
No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions either!
I know personally I can’t stay at my peak level of performance for more than about 90 minutes straight. My 2 favorite midday rituals revolve around short exercise sessions if I’ve been sitting that long, and what I like to call a “napitation“. I have a great pair of over the ear headphones which block out external noise. I set a sleep timer for 20 minutes, and just let my mind blank while listening to the crashing surf of ocean waves, the sounds of the forest, or a rhythmic drumming track. (my two favorite smartphone apps are Omvanna and Naturespace for iPhone) All of these help me to unwind and relax. I emerge refreshed and ready to tackle my next project. (keeping these breaks less than 20 minutes is critical, as any longer actually makes me feel groggy)
you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day,
unless you’re too busy;
then you should sit for an hour
– old zen saying
The most important thing to remember is that you can’t do it wrong – if you were able to relax at all, you should consider every session a success. BREATHE-in. BREATHE-out. Consistency trumps intensity every time.
You might think that you don’t have time.
- If you don’t make time for you, who will?
- I find I get way more actually Done – so instead of being busy, I’m effective.
In the article they discussed European vs American habits (Europeans take much more vacation time). In pre-electricity societies nightly sleeping patterns were commonly divided by an hour or two to pray, smoke, procreate, and even visit the neighbors. As far back as the first century B.C. the Romans regularly took mid-afternoon breaks, which they called meridiari from the Latin for midday. Under the influence of Roman Catholicism, noon became known as sexta (the sixth hour, according to their clocks), a time for rest and prayer. Eventually sexta morphed into siesta. (from article – geeky, but pretty cool!)
The bottom line that I got from the article is that while long vacations/meditation retreats were awesome for really stressed people, meditating daily is ultimately more important than the total hours of meditation over one’s lifetime. Learning, creativity and fun are all enhanced by making time to Unwind!
Please share your favorite methods of de-stressing with your friends and colleagues. Totally New You is here to help you live a healthier, happier life, so please let us know if we can help get you started right on a stress busting exercise routine – and remember to BREATHE!