(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)
Stop doing. Just be…even if it's just for a minute.
So often, we feel driven to produce. Do more. Contribute more. Be better.
Even when we’re doing something that feels relatively mindless, like scrolling through social media, we’re drawn to things that subconsciously make us feel like we’re not enough. Diet hacks? Plumper skin tips? Summer swim ads? Dream destination pics? The message whispered in your ear is, “You would be happier if you looked more like her or were sipping wine in Paris with him…“
Basically, the message is “Hey girl…”
“Whatever your present is, it isn’t good enough.”
“Why aren’t you doing anything to improve yourself, your life, your kids, your home, your job?
And that’s just social media. <Rolling my eyes.> We’re not even addressing the real pressures we all face and the real demands we tackle at work. Throw the kids, parents, relationships in the mix…and it’s enough to… well, to burn a person out.
To regain your sanity, you’ve got to give yourself some time to just be. Go ahead. Give it a shot. Right now.
Take a deep breath. I mean, really do it. Stop reading. Pause. And take a deep breath.
Now take a second one, and a third. Give me four deep breaths before you continue reading.
Now take a moment to be still. Set a timer on your phone and give yourself at least 60 seconds to just do nothing. Quiet your soul. It’s all going to be okay.
Look, I understand what you’re feeling. I’m smack dab in the thick of it myself. The women in our 28 Day Reinvention Road Trip summer cohort are in their last week of the program, and I just moved my son back into college down in West Palm. In the midst of all that movement, I’ve been preparing for speaking events, writing an e-book and building a new program. I know what busy feels like–for real!
But here’s the thing, and it stands the test of time: if you don’t stop to be present, you will crack. You’re fragile. We all are. You might not want to believe it, but it’s true: you can and will break. What’s the use in being spread a mile wide and an inch deep all the time?
When you pause to just be, you go a mile deep and an inch wide. You regain perspective and strength. You reclaim your cool.
Here’s what I’m prescribing to my Road Trip Travelers and my corporate clients alike: if you’re burned out, the first thing you need to do is to take time to just be. And I’m not the only one to say this is essential. A whole host of researchers and smart people are also begging you to take a beat. I recommend an hour a day, with extended time on the weekend, until you’ve regained your strength and joy.
Just being looks differently for different people. Some love a good run or swim; others prefer to enter a flow state like going for a drive or painting a room. Some like to meditate; some put on music and dance with abandon or simply watch the ceiling fan go around. My close friends will tell you that I’m famous for chasing the ‘sun spots’ around my living room in the morning so I can work and have the rays kiss the side of my face while I type away
Whatever works for you, do it. Be still for a moment. And when you feel yourself rooted and strong again, then you can start to think about what you might want to do next. But only after you’ve had time to just be.