Creating Space to Breathe Prevents Burnout
I love this quote from George Bernard Shaw. It’s an inspiration for us all to live life this way:
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
Tip 1 – Create Space to Breathe in your Daily Schedule
Start your day by creating some space. Don’t allow your alarm clock to be like the starting bell for the Kentucky Derby. The gates fling open starting a sprint to the finish line.
Create a morning ritual of peace to start your day. My routine is getting up, making coffee for me and Robert, then heading up to my office to read something inspirational, journal, or meditate. That time sets the tone for the day.
Is your daily calendar filled with back to back appointments? In business, especially in a sales position, meeting with clients is the lifeblood of your business. But if you pack your calendar to the max, you are welcoming stress and overwhelm to crowd out joy.
Allow yourself time between appointments. If your meetings take you to various places around town, schedule appointments in proximity to each other on the same day. That will create space in your week to use your time more effectively.
Allow enough time to have a nutritious lunch. Prepare a lunch to take with you or have a place in mind. If it’s going to be a pretty day, you could eat outdoors and get some air. Which seques into Tip 2.
Tip 2 – Create Space to Breathe by Getting into Nature
Research from Harvard Medical School shows that spending just 20-30 minutes out in nature three times a week can help improve your mental state.
Have your lunch or dinner outside. There are more and more restaurants that have areas with outdoor dining.
Look up at the sky instead of down at your phone. Have you noticed how few people look up these days? The vast sky is ever changing.
Check out hiking trails or nature trails in your area to go for a walk on the weekend.
In St. Louis, we have a wonderful Botanical Garden. We go there at various points in the year to take in the beauty of the vast variety of flowers in bloom.
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Loyd Wright
Tip 3 – Create Breathing Space by Clearing Clutter
Clutter weighs you down. That’s why I have a chapter called Clear Clutter from Your Life in my book The Freedom to EAT – 10 Secrets for Lasting Weight Loss and Inner Peace.
There is the mental clutter in your mind and the physical clutter in your surroundings. Both can cause you to feel closed in and overwhelmed.
Clearing the Mental Clutter of To-Do Lists
Mental clutter consists of the to-do list in your head, and thoughts of worry, anxiety, fear, and judgments (the inner critic that says you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or overall enough).
The easiest way to clear the to-do list is to write it down. So easy, right? Write out everything you need to do. The list may take a week to get done. If you are working on a big business project, it may take weeks or months.
Create space to lighten your mind and spirit by knocking out several little things on your to-do list right away: make a doctor’s appointment, schedule your car for service, pay a bill. Boom, done! Doesn’t that feel good? Then mark it off your list.
Clear the Anxiety of Decision Making by Doing the Next Right Thing
On the big items for a business project, ask yourself, what is the next right thing? It’s so easy to lose your joy when you look at a long-term goal. All the moving pieces can be overwhelming.
I wanted to redo the home page on my website, but I had a talk to give. There was a deadline involved with my talk, so I focused on that. It took way more time than I expected. But it was worth the time and focus, cutting out all other distractions.
The following Monday after the talk on Friday, I revised my site. I had chosen to do the next right thing and both items from my to-do list got done.
So, clear the mental clutter of overwhelm and those thoughts of, I’ll never get this done, it’s too much, I can’t do it, by taking action and just focusing on doing the next right thing.
Clearing the Mental Clutter of Fear, Anxiety, and Worry
Silencing the worried, anxious, and fearful thoughts takes a little more practice.
There is a Native American saying that says, “If you have two wolves, the wolf you feed will be the wolf that grows.”
What are you feeding your mind? If you are constantly connected to the news, social media, and violent programs, you can be feeding your mind with fear, anxiety, comparison (the “thief of joy”), and worry.
If you get out into nature, watch and read inspirational material, and leave time for silence and stillness, you will make room for peace, joy, and contentment.
Are you afraid of silence? You can listen about that subject towards the end of this short radio interview.
Being still and silent can address issues that may be brewing under the surface that are causing your fear, worry, anxiety, and what I call not enoughness.
Clear Cluttered thoughts through Meditation
Two powerful ways to silence those negative, cluttered thoughts are through meditation and journaling.
I like to say that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God. The Psalmist says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Quieting the mind, we can hear the still, small voice of our souls and the voice of God’s Spirit speaking to us. We can discover the “peace that surpasses all understanding.”
Clear Cluttered thoughts through Journaling
Journaling is a great way to get in touch with those disturbing feelings within and bring them out onto the page to look at them. You gain new insights and can let go of the past in the form of regrets, mistakes, or wounds caused by others. Journaling allows for healing too, just like the to-do list, get it out of your head and onto the page.
Create Space by Clearing Physical Clutter
Crowded spaces crowd out peace. Unmade beds, closets crammed with clothes, no room in a garage for cars, kitchen cabinets stacked with plastic containers with missing tops or bottoms (like socks without mates – where do they go?), toys (human children’s and furry children’s) strewn everywhere….
Living a full life can make it difficult to be organized, but creating a space for everything makes it so much easier.
Robert and I are blessed to have moved to a new space. When we were married fifteen years ago, I moved into Robert’s house.
With merging two households, we had almost two of everything. We found people in need who could use our duplicate items. But even with that clearing out, there was still a lot of stuff that we had accumulated throughout our lives.
My mother and Robert’s father passed away. We accumulated all of their stuff. It was overwhelming.
There were very few items that were useful or of sentimental value. Again, we gave a lot of it away to charities that could use what we had.
Starting from scratch, we were able to create a place for what we had and put everything in its place. It has been life giving for me.
My office is half the size of my prior office. That’s a challenge in keeping my desk clear of paper piling up. But I am committed to staying on top of it. In the past, I’d allow the clutter to take over. Then it was an ordeal to clean it all up.
Questions to Help You Clear Physical Clutter
Regarding the stuff that you own, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I use it?
Do I need it?
Does it bring me joy?
Is it broken, damaged, inoperable?
If I lost it in a fire, would I replace it?
What kind of energy do I get from it – positive or negative?
Will it be a pleasure or use to my heirs?
When you create space in your surroundings, you will feel a greater lightness in your mind and spirit.
Tip 4 – Create Breathing Space by Taking Time Off
The surest way to burnout is to not take time to rest. Even God rested on the seventh day. It’s called the Sabbath.
Being self-employed, I am fortunate to choose my work hours. So, I take Sunday off to observe the Sabbath. It’s the day I feel the most joy. That’s because I have no agenda, to-do list, or demands on my time other than singing in choir at church. This breathing space allows me to recharge for the week ahead.
When I was growing up, the stores were all closed on Sunday. Now many are open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I miss that time when almost everyone had one day off a week.
Whatever job schedule you have, take some time to just be. Use that time to get out into nature or do something that will refresh you.
Sadly, over half of American employees have unused vacation.
The reason sighted for not using vacation is fear of being replaced or fear of an increased workload.
Not taking time off to recharge can reduce productivity, creativity, happiness, health, and wellness.
You don’t need to spend money on an exotic vacation, have a staycation. There are plenty of places to see and explore in your own city or around you.
Use the time to relax or read a good book. You can also use the time to accomplish those home projects, start a garden, or do decluttering.
By creating space to breathe, your life will take on joy and FLOW. You can go from overwhelm to peace and breathe out a sigh that life is good.
If you found these tips helpful, you will find The Four Steps to FLOW helpful too. Just fill in your first name and best email below.
If you have ways to help you and others create space, please share in the comment section under this post.