In the game of sports, coaches call time outs to discuss new strategies.
In the game of life, we need time outs to step out of intense work cycles, give our mind a chance to calm down, and allow our bodies to release tension.
I work out of a home office and I periodically leave my computer and spend five to ten minutes doing some mindless chores to give my brain a break. Or I will simply sit quietly, close my eyes and use the relaxation techniques I describe in my book on stress and my Relaxation CD. Mindless chores allow my body movement while my brain disconnects from planning, worrying or thinking.
Everybody needs time outs – your children as well as yourselves
This is not a boring 3-5 minutes sitting in a chair because of noncompliance. Time outs are a way to restore balance. It is unplugging – unhooking from all the electronic devices we use to divert ourselves and purposefully setting aside quiet time to allow our brains and bodies to relax.
What is a time out?
Stress creates tension. Doing video games or watching TV or plugging into the internet simply exchanges one form of stimulation for another.
A time out refreshes, rejuvenates and restores our mind and body to a restful and healing state. It takes us out of the high stress red zone and places us into a peaceful green zone.
It re-centers our brain on the here and now, in the moment and allows the past to remain in the past and disconnects the anxieties we have for the future.
In my book, Use Stress to Meet Your Goals, I give 12 steps to understand destructive stress and ways to make our stress energy become productive. Both my book and my CD are available on my website.
Parents and Kids
Heavy work schedules make it difficult to relax when we get home. Finding a time to unwind, however, is critical – not only for you, but also for your kids.
Hours of tension, time pressure and stressful thinking has a damaging impact on our physical and mental health. It is important to not only understand the factors that create unhealthy stress, but also ways to reduce its damaging aspects.
Time outs are a way to revitalize our energy and restore healing to our brains and bodies. When we are at our jobs, it may be more difficult, but here are a few quick ways to help release tension.
- When possible get up from your desk and stretch. Extend your arms above your head as you slowly breathe in and then exhale as you slowly lower your arms. Do this several times. Each time you exhale, imagine your tension draining away.
- Find a quiet place to sit and close your eyes. (This takes about 1 minute). Breathe slowly and evenly as you imagine yourself on a quiet, restful beach or other relaxing place. In your mind see yourself relaxing into the peace and beauty around you and releasing tension with every breath. I have used this quick “One Minute Mini-vacation” technique while waiting for an elevator (without closing my eyes) or waiting in the doctor’s office.
- Reframe your thinking. Tell yourself you will complete the work and you are capable. Focus on working methodically as you breathe slowly and evenly. Remind yourself that unnecessary tension only detracts from doing a good job.
At the end of the day
Kids need time outs from all the stimulation as well. They need to unwind at the end of the day. These are quiet times created to reverse the stimulation of the day.
We can put this habit in place when kids are little. Help your child relax before going to sleep by reading a book. Teach them to visualize. Have them close their eyes and imagine they are floating on a soft, downy cloud. Expand the visualization on how wonderful it feels to be safe and relaxed as they drift across the sky on this soft cloud. As you relax with them, breathe in a slow, healthy way.
As kids get older, their lives become more and more activated and stimulated. Develop a family routine of unplugging at the end of the day. It could be a time of quiet conversation, motivation and encouragement. It could be a quiet time of their choice – reading a book or writing in a journal.
It might be a time to listen to your kids and reinforce their efforts, complimenting them on how well they have done that day. Kids need to hear that all their tiny steps towards their goals are important. They may not have gotten the grade they wanted, or got on the team but you can commend them on what they did. When kids know their efforts are recognized and applauded, they will feel more motivated to keep trying.
The Power of Relaxation
It is hard to calm our minds at the end of the day. Years ago I produced a relaxation/visualization tape for a major HMO as a part of a chronic illness/chronic pain class. Since that time I produced another CD with a composer friend who wrote special music.
As you sit quietly and listen, it teaches you how to relax the different parts of your body, where you hold your stress and tension and deep healing breathing. It takes only 15 minutes a day to synchronize your brain and body in relaxing. My CD is available on my website.
Relaxation and Visualization are powerful tools in restoring the body to a healing and restful state. It is easy and the benefits enormous.
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