Over breakfast my friend Dominique announced everyday is a Monday. Responding to my quizzical expression she filled in the blanks. Dom, a successful entrepreneur, is in the process of growing her second successful business, Escape Room Palm Springs. This venture means hitting it hard in back-to-back seven day work weeks. Understanding the amount of work that goes into a new business enterprise, I tipped my head in an empathetic nod.
My friend continued talking about her busy life and related how one day while listening to a CD, she discovered a way to keep the pace without spiking her stress level. Adhering to the advice of a female combat soldier, Dom cultivated a way to look for, and take advantage of pockets of downtime. For example, when she has the rare 2 hour chunk of time she heads home to soak in her Jacuzzi. An extra thirty minutes may be used in the grocery store with her headphones on. Dom finds strolling the aisles relaxing as she leisurely accomplishes restocking her pantry. For a mere 15 minutes, she can find a quiet corner to sit still and “just be.” If her pets are around, Dom indulges in doggy cuddle time. (Stroking a dog is touted by experts as a healthy form of stress relief.)
Author and speaker, Amanda Enayati, is in complete agreement with Dom about mastering “the pause” during a demanding day. In a recent interview, Amanda referred to these portions of down time as “pockets of joy.” Enayati, who authored the book, “Seeking Serenity: The Ten New Rules for Health and Happiness in the Age of Anxiety,” discusses a pause as a way to deal with negative stress. The author recommends not over-thinking a pause. Just find a quiet space to rest and renew, or head outdoors to commune with nature.
Establishing one of these new rules in your life might take a bit practice. Like Dom, you must develop an awareness and capture those precious moments of “me” time. By setting up these buffers, you can minimize and neutralize your stress level. A word of caution here: Don’t fritter it away thinking you should use the time to knock off a few more things on your “to do” list.
Try it with me. This week I’m committing to my pockets of joy by instituting the 80/20 rule. For 20 minutes each day I’ll close my office door, think of nothing and enjoy my 80 calorie cold-brew coffee pop.
Bye, bye toxic stress!