“As soon as I cross the bridge I can relax.” The bridge my Mom was talking about was the Mackinac Bridge, linking the lower peninsula with the lush wilderness of the upper peninsula of Michigan. Forested, quiet and surrounded by the gorgeously vast Great Lakes.
My sweetheart and I went on a trip to the UP to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We love it there too. I’m grateful to our parents for sharing their love of this beautiful place. Crossing the bridge is an invitation to respond to the beauty, to fall into quiet and just look. Absorb.
We chose to get married in autumn because it is a season of abundance and meaning, different from the generosity of summer. Autumn is reflective. The colors are intense and brilliant. The shadows are deep. The season is short — on the verge and ripe.
Our first sighting of the bridge on our camping trips north as kids were cause for excitement. We competed to see it first. This weekend, traveling around the bend then up the hill, we saw it in the distance. We both exclaimed ‘there it is!’ Seeing that impressive structure was the cue to step across the threshold and relax.
“Be intense and brilliant without cracking.”
Finding time to relax is so important. You know this already. You know you can’t work full out for days on end without something cracking. Putting in long days and filling
Finding time to relax is so important. You know this already. You know you can’t work full out for days on end without something cracking. Putting in long days and filling up too short evenings with more work. On those days, do you then find it’s hard to get any good sleep? Do you feel edgy and out of sorts? Vacation is months away. RELAX needs to happen on a daily basis. One of my daily intentions is ’stillness nurtures peace.’ Planting opportunities for stillness and quiet in my calendar every day is important to me. How do you get “RELAX” into your daily schedule? If you’re hungry for help with this, read on for an extended conversation.
TIPS TO GET TO THE AAAHHH ZONE
Do you eat your lunch at your desk? Taking a lunch break away from your desk serves a larger purpose than just getting fuel into your body; it is a vital pause. Art Markman, PhD, author and Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas explains: “When you walk away from a problem and think about something else, your memory resets. The ideas that dominated your thinking recede from your thoughts. The memories that were inhibited before, gradually become more accessible. If your thoughts return to the problem after a pause, those other memories now have a chance to influence your thinking.”
Feeling overwhelmed or lacking creative fuel? A 2014 Stanford study says you could walk it out: changing the scenery can change your perspective, pump oxygen into you brain and muscles and give you a power boost. It’s the mini version of a vacation. A 10 minute walk can revive your spirits. If you can’t get outside, take a walk through the hallway, up the stairs, just move your body through any space available. There are lots of yoga poses that can be done from a sitting position, if that’s all you have.
Resting in the evening is a vitally important physical and mental resource that frequently gets shortchanged. Ariana Huffington has been making it one of her missions to change American attitudes about this for several years.
“I love the idea of rekindling the romance with sleep.” – Ariana Huffington
I agree. There is nothing smart about exhaustion. A commitment to rest and an evening routine are important. Make it a priority to relax and restore yourself with enough sleep every evening. Set a bedtime for yourself (so you get 8+ hours of sleep), Turn off all digital devices to limit the barrage of information overload, and leave them out of the room (parents of teens can adapt this tip). A hot bath or shower will wash away the workday ‘dynamic’ before you put on your jammies. Watching a screen to fall asleep is a no no. Read instead.
The cue is the cue. Seeing the bridge was our cue to relax. Leaving your desk for lunch is the cue for your brain to open the aperture wide. Moving your body, and breathing deeply is your body cue to disconnect from static and engage with the kinetic. Shutting down your smartphone and laptop is your cue to rest and restore in the evening away from digitized overstimulation. You will develop your own rituals of relaxation to cue your brain that something special is coming – to retreat into the ahhh zone.