Do You Take the Time to Push the Pause Button

It’s hard to get my friend Ellen off the phone.  Ellen has been a good friend of mine for over 20 years.  We get together for lunch a few times a month and I really enjoy talking with her. Talking to her on the phone is a different story.  She called me yesterday. 

Let me explain.  Ellen is a traveler, great cook, and loves to read fiction.  We have a lot we talk about.  When I am with her the conversation flows.  Ellen is a talker so I’d say she does about 65% of the talking and I do about 35%.  There is no problem there.  People tell me I am a good listener.

 Not a good enough listener though to be silent during whole conversation! That is what happened yesterday on our phone call.  Ellen did 99% of the talking.  During the first 15 minutes all I said is,  “Yes.” “Oh my!”  “Is that so?”  Again I am interested so that feels fine. 

The next 15 minutes was mostly a monologue about the trouble she had getting her husband to exercise but toward the end I interrupt and say, I have to go.  She then jumps to another interesting topic, a new recipe and continues with directions on how to make it and her experience making it.  15 minutes later I’m still interested but a little anxious.  Finally I have to say, “I have an appointment in 5 minutes I have to go, Ellen.”  By then she is a little tired herself and says good-bye! 

After 45 minutes I was free!  Thank goodness it was actually 20 minutes until my next client appointment.  I needed a break!  I made a cup of tea and drank it slowly enjoying the quiet with no one talking.

What I noticed is how wonderful that break felt after the stress at the end of the phone call.  So many times, when I am working I ignore the stress I feel or even the tired feeling I have from sitting so long.  Just like after the phone call with Ellen I need to take a break.  I compiled a list of 10 things to do to relax during a short break. Choose one after you have been working for an hour or so to stay alert and refreshed. A cup of tea frequently works for me.

  1. 20 minutes of exercise – Whether you have a treadmill at home or you go to the gym, plan on having a few minutes of quiet exercise.  It goes without saying that working while you are working out is not going to relax you!
  2. Walk for 20 minutes – A great time to take a break is right after lunch.  It is especially important if you tend to eat at your desk and work through lunch.  If you go out for lunch, walk to a distant restaurant rather than driving or taking a taxi.  A short walk any time during the day is a great way to relieve stress.
  3. 20 minute coffee or tea break –Mid-afternoon can be a low point in the day.  This is a perfect time to stop what you are doing and take 20 minutes to sit with coffee or tea and clear your mind.
  4. Pedicure – Nothing like a foot message to really relax you!  Taking the time for a pedicure is a great stress buster!
  5. Massage – Getting a full massage is amazingly relaxing.  It also is helpful for back, neck and head pain.  These types of pains are often stress related.
  6. Driving range– Golf or any sport for that matter takes your mind off your business issues.  If you have a driving range close to your work location, you can hit a bucket of balls in 20 or 30 minutes for a change of pace and a chance to de-stress.
  7. 15-minute meditation – Meditation refreshes the body and the soul during the day.  Keeping your mind rested without thoughts of work is often challenging to people who are always on the go.  Try music, a meditation tape or CD, or sitting outside in a beautiful setting (ocean, mountain, garden etc.)
  8. 15 minutes reading for pleasure daily – Get into a good novel, read something inspirational, or find some poetry that is meaningful to you.  Get engrossed with your mind totally off your work challenges.  If you worry that you’ll forget to go back to work, set a timer.
  9. 15 minutes of music daily (listening, playing an instrument or singing) – Like driving golf balls or reading, for some music can be totally engrossing. What is the best way for you to take a break?
  10. Day off once a month to relax and have no agenda – If you still feel stressed after trying a few of these ways to relax briefly, try taking a day off to relax. Many of us go from lists of things to do at work to another list with things to do at home.  Taking a day to do whatever you feel like doing with no agenda or “to do” list, can be very energizing.  There is a sense of freedom that is exhilarating.

Another Way to Pause
Another way to de-stress is to partner with a coach. For 45 minutes you will be able to think strategically about your life. Getting away from the nitty gritty of work and looking at your life from a higher level, can give you a new perspective and some ideas about how to improve the quality of your work and your life. Care to give it a try? Call me at 617-240-5353 or email me at asparker@asparker.com.

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