This week, my own journal gave me a prompt! I was doing an end-of-week review and said: “then Friday morning was busy and Friday afternoon I just needed some mental space. Maybe I could work on a quick-blast way to get this mental space so it doesn’t fritter the whole day away. The sick days couldn’t be helped, and it was just mental exhaustion by the end of the week, but it’s better to rest than work depleted.”
So, how can I quickly cultivate some mental space so I can recharge and disconnect from draining activities?
The first thing is to notice, as soon as possible, whether something is draining me. It should be obvious, because I usually get cranky but, when I’m in a cranky mood, I slip into judgment and resentfulness and I don’t see that I simply need to take a break.
Identify for yourself what moods signify that you need to take a time-out, or what events trigger you. If we can plan a bit in advance and think about what usually depletes us, we can better recognize what the true issue is when we’re irritable.
Once we know what our triggers are, or what the symptoms are, we can come up with strategies to replenish ourselves. List the negative feelings or emotions and something that would help alleviate it. For example …
If I’m feeling cranky, I might need a few things. First, take a break from the computer; go get something to drink or a little snack, or stick my head outside for some fresh air. Then do something else for a few minutes; maybe stretch and do a little meditation, then look at an inspiration board on Pinterest or something to connect to something pleasurable, but just for a few minutes. Once I’m disconnected from whatever was causing the crankiness, I can check in and see what specifically my body needs. Maybe I need to go for a walk, or take a nap, or do some journaling.
It’s a multi-step process for me: recognize, disconnect, diagnose, recharge.
If you, like me, have trouble noticing when you’re in the thick of negative emotions, try adding a calendar reminder to check in every two hours to recognize how you’re feeling and whether you need to do a little intervention. Or try the “Pomodoro” scheduling technique where you work for a set period of time and take periodic, short breaks and use the breaks to quickly scan yourself.
If you have other ideas, I’d love to know them in the comments or on Facebook!