Put yourself in a “time out”.

We put our kids into a time out when they misbehave.  In many cases, their short isolation period or restraint from doing anything, watching anything, saying anything forces them to wind down a little and pacify their speedy little adrenaline rushes. So, why not us?  A time out from our auto-pilot mania of the daily rat race is something our bodies and minds could be crying for. Only most of us just don’t know how deprived we are for that break until we actually take it. Either you are tuned in to your consciousness and schedule a regular time out OR you are reaching a breaking point that forces you to make the impulsive decision to get away or shut everyone out for a while. Sadly, for most of us North Americans, it’s the latter. Shutting down your laptop and cell phone and heading out into nature, meditating, exploring an interest in the arts or a new sport or simply learning how to de-program and take a nap are effective ways to “time out”. Many studies have shown that napping leads to subjective and behavioral benefits, improving mood and reducing fatigue. Napping also improves task performance: addition, logical reasoning and reaction time.* During this intensive weekend of projects, I broke my own pattern of morning work mania and did something a little different.  At 6:30am I grabbed a classic off a bookshelf – Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and escaped to France and Spain while sipping my morning coffee in the backyard. I sat with my bare feet grounded into the wet dewy grass. Six chapters down, I then continued with my usual meditation and workout.  It was not only refreshing to escape from my chaotic world but following that break, I actually ended up having one of the most productive Saturdays in a long time without feeling worn out! So, like a child in time out, we need to have a moment of solitude to calm down our overstimulated brains. It’s okay to be alone! We all need time to get to know ourselves better!  BUT we can also use our time outs to sort our thoughts, prioritize them and determine which issues and challenges in our lives warrant our valuable time and energy (very important!)  A quiet getaway is great for this! So, take a moment for yourself to clear your mind and gain a healthy big picture perspective on what’s important to you in the grand scheme of your life, your future and your happiness. Personally, I find I make better decisions and develop a healthier attitude towards my circumstances with regular  mental breaks. Of course, like a child, if you misbehave, a time out is also a good idea. ; )   * O’Connor, R.M. et al, Dose response effects of short duration naps during extended wakefulness. Sleep, 2004, 27 (Suppl.): A155  

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