The Importance of Transitions
Do you oftentimes find yourself rushing from one thing to the next during the day just to feel frazzled and overwhelmed and unable to then relax at the end of your day? In our modern times, our schedules are jam packed more than ever before and technology has allowed us to multitask in ways prior generations weren’t able to. This makes it all the more important to focus on the transitions in our day, or rather when we go from one thing to the next- such as from work to home or from one meeting to the next. This will allow you to focus and be more present at whatever is at hand as well as decompress and actually leave your work at work at the end of the day. Easier said than done, how does one actually do this?
There are two ways to accomplish this. The first technique is one you do during the day when you can’t totally mentally check out afterwards but allows you to shift from one task to the next, and the other is what you do at the very end of your day when you need to fully unplug and decompress. You are downshifting and regulating your nervous system, so stress and anxiety don’t get the best of you and run the show.
Daytime (or anytime) Decompress
Say for instance you are out running errands and just get back in your car after doing a big grocery shopping trip. Instead of then rushing to the next thing or back home when you start to feel a little scattered, stop for minute and pause. If you’re in your car, place your hands on your lap or the steering wheel and imagine a snow globe. Think of shaking the slow globe up and seeing all the tiny snowflakes scatter in a flurry around the globe. Now imagine placing it down on a solid surface and slowly watching the snowflakes settle down on the bottom. Imagine that happening in the inside of you, all of the stress (snowflakes) you feel buzzing around, and then sitting down still and imagining all of it slowly settling down to the ground. You may notice it takes several minutes- just like a real snow globe would. It takes a little time for all the pieces to settle at the bottom, so give it some time. When you finally feel calm and setttled, then proceed with the next task. Doing this after different tasks and meetings throughout the day will help keep your nervous system from getting too stimulated and stress getting too out of control.
End of Day
At the end of your workday or before bed, it’s important to do a full wind down. I like to think of this as a bookend to my day, when I can let go and fully decompress from anything that happened that day. This is very personal and individual, so try different things and see what works best for you. Some ideas include taking a 20-minute Epsom salt bath with any other nice smelling products you like and think of the salt physically pulling out all of the stress, tension, and negative energy from other people that you encountered that day. Try also adding in diaphragmatic breathing: place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Inhale from your belly without the hand on your chest moving, and exhale slowly through your mouth emptying as much air out of your lungs as possible.
Another idea is to create a safe island somewhere that you enjoy being. This can be in or outside. I like to lay in my bed with my dog and play a guided meditation to help walk me through winding down. This is especially important if you are really wound up and having trouble relaxing on your own. I recommend looking up meditations with binaural beats. These help your brainwaves shift to a calmer state and require using any set of headphones. If you have trouble sleeping, this is an excellent thing to do right before bed. Light a candle, diffuse essential oils, and play soothing music.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s very important to unplug from your phone and other electronics other than what you need for your wind down, such as a playlist on your phone. In this case, you can set a “do not disturb” setting on your phone that will silence all calls and text messages until you are finished. Delete social media apps temporarily until you are done or overnight while sleeping if you find it too tempting to have near you. I personally do every night before bed and then download those apps again the next morning. Sometimes physically placing your phone in another room is enough mental and physical separation to help you unwind without added distractions or your brain constantly inputting information through your phone throughout the day. Giving your mind time to rest and fully unplug is truly a make or break with your unwinding routine. The more consistently you practice unwinding, the easier and faster it will be to finally relax.