Stop right now! Thank you very much!
How many times a day do you have to stop? Stop for the traffic lights, for the people in front of you in the queue to get served, to listen to someone. We have to stop on a regular basis, or at least slow down and attempt to multi-task while we wait until we can get going properly again. Frustrating isn’t it? When we complete a task, we get a sense of achievement and satisfaction which makes us feel good. Life’s constant stops and starts interrupt this feel good factor and can lead to a build-up of stress unless we take control of them.
If we’re stopped in the middle of something that we have committed ourselves to, it takes approximately 23 minutes to re-focus and get back to where we were. If that happens even three times a day, that’s over an hour we’ve lost to getting back into full flow, then you have to add the actual stop time so loose even more time. Many of us are time poor, so stops and starts completely mess up our days.
I was reminded recently of the importance of stopping. I was into the second half of my ‘big’ holiday when I found myself on the sun-lounger, by the pool, reading a really good book. Apart from the odd comfort break and lunch I stayed on the lounger all day. My busy, hectic, filled up life had stopped and boy did it feel good! I made a promise to myself that I must do this more often and encourage others to do the same.
Now we all can’t stop our life for 24 hours to sip cocktails by the pool in tropical sunshine. That is far too expensive and takes up the time we need to spend working to save up for luxuries. What we can do is introduce small, controlled stops into our daily routines that will make a difference to our mental, emotional and physical health.
The world of rugby seems to have stoppages under control. If there is a problem that arises, the clock is stopped until it’s sorted, then the game restarts. There are three main participators involved in the game. Which one are you?
who stops officiating to sort the problem out – usually managers or parents. The players
who stop playing the game until a decision is made – the majority of the population. The spectators
who stop watching the game and take an opinionated stance on the cause of the stop - the few who turn up for entertainment and make no significant contribution to the outcome of event.
The players (and we are all players in life, no matter which of the three participators we identify with), can take advantage of the short time available to catch their breath, talk tactics, have treatment & take on liquids. It’s forced upon them but they maximise the minutes or even seconds to RELAX, RE-BALANCE, RENEW.
To get a good work life balance we need to be taking control of our stoppages by using them to our best advantage, like the rugby players. Here’s the how to maximise stoppage time by using the mantra -
RELAX, RE-BALANCE, RENEW.
1. Relax by using the stop to breathe. Three deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Follow the air entering your nostrils round your lungs and out past your lips. Feel the extra oxygen reaching every cell of your body. Take three normal breathes, then repeat.
2. Relax by stretching as many bits of your body, as far as you can. Enjoy the release. Good starting points are the shoulders and then move up or down your body.
3. Re-balance by changing your mindset from a negative to a positive. Instead of seeing the hiatus as stopping something, see it as an opportunity to start something. Apply the same positivity when the stop is over.
4. Re-balance by finding a learning from the stop. Turn the frustration to knowledge.
5. Renew by taking on board liquids. If possible, use the stop to put the kettle on and have a hot drink to renew mind, body and soul.
6. Renew by creating time to enjoy a hot drink. Whether you’re making, drinking or queuing for it, approach it as if you’ve never done it before. Experience the newness.
It’s difficult to respond positively to a stop and put yourself first. It takes a lot of practise and the hesitant person may well miss the opportunity. Stop! It’s important to your work life balance to take the time to RELAX, RE-BALANCE, RENEW.
To finish, if you click on the link below and think of your favourite mug singing to you rather than the Spice Girls, you may get the message. Stop right now, thank you very much!