4 Tips to Slow Down and Rest
4 Tips to Slow Down and Rest
The world is abuzz with technology, connection, alerts, and alarms. Most people are never far from their cell phones, which means we’re all available 24/7 if anyone wants to get in touch. Sometimes these connections are welcome, and other times they’re an interruption. Even if we aren’t being bombarded with ringtones and cryptic text messages (who doesn’t flinch when mom leaves a single “call me”?), we find ourselves mindlessly scrolling the Twitter feed for the latest news or seeing what’s up with our second cousin once removed on Facebook today.
There’s nothing wrong with staying connected, of course. But it can quickly become an addictive and mindless part of your day, especially once you’ve hit the refresh button four or five times to continue scrolling the same posts over and over again. If you’ve found yourself looking up from the screen wondering where the evening went, this post is for you. We’ll be outlining our top tips to slow down, be mindful, and rest.
Tip #1 - Give Me A Break: Have you ever checked your phone for “just a sec” and then realized dinner was burning? Or suddenly been faced by an empty coffee cup without realizing you drank the whole thing scrolling Pinterest? (Guilty of both). Set yourself some designated breaks from your smartphone or tablet to focus on other pursuits. Like cooking and eating dinner, having a conversation, or truly enjoying your morning cuppa. While you’re at it, try doing these things without watching TV too.
What it looks like: You could put a time limit around these breaks or attach them to certain activities. For instance, you might only check social media between certain hours, or you might turn your phone to airplane mode on date night or whenever you are cooking or eating.
How it can help: Limiting your exposure to major distractions can help in several ways. It will force you to be more present and mindful in your conversations. You might even find yourself talking to your partner or a friend over coffee in the morning, or finding a quiet place for five minutes of solitude and reflection before you start the day. It will also force you to pay more attention to your meal, eat mindfully, and realize you’re full long before you would if you were distracted.
Tip #2 - There’s an App for That: When you do have your phone on hand, check out your App Store for mindfulness and daily meditation apps that can help you relax. Practice breathing exercises, guided 5-10 minute meditations, or mental check-ins with your body.
What it looks like: Browse your app store for a few minutes with keywords like meditation, mindfulness, or yoga. Some popular favorites include Headspace (on Apple and Android) and Calm (on Apple and Android). There are plenty of options so let us know your favorites too. You can work it into your schedule to do some breathing exercises when you wake up, when you park your car at work (or on your train commute), on your lunch, when you get home from work, and to wind down before bed.
How it can help: Taking a moment to get back in a good mental space can help you when stress levels are high. An important meeting at work, a toddler tantrum, or almost anything in between can be helped with a five minute break.
Tip #3 - Look Away: This is different than setting aside device-free periods throughout your day. You should aim to take a one-minute screen break (close your eyes, look at a wall, get up and walk around, anything but look at screens) every twenty minutes. If that’s too frequent right away, try a two-minute break every half hour.
What it looks like: There are downloadable programs you can use for your computer that will pop up at assigned intervals and darken your screen for a set amount of time, forcing you to take a break. Check out tools like Iris, EyeLeo, and others when you search for “eye break timer” or similar terms on your browser.
How it can help: This tip will help with eye strain and fatigue and help you not get those terrible white-light computer screen headaches throughout the day. You can also add in standing, stretching, basic exercises, or a quick walk around the office to get up out of your chair (because sitting all day has health consequences too).
Tip #4 - Free Hugs: A growing amount of research indicates that something as simple as hugging another person can boost your health and reduce stress. Humans are social creatures that thrive on touch, which means hugs and other physical contact are actually quite important to our basic needs. Hugging releases oxytocin, which can help improve immune function, reduce stress, and increase bonding. So hug it out on a daily basis to help refocus on the bond between you and your family or friends, which in turn will make you a healthier, happier, calmer you.
What it looks like: Estimates on how long a hug should last range from three seconds to as many as twenty seconds per hug, up to eight times a day. This is more about changing your behavior than achieving your scientific best and maximizing oxytocin production, so you don’t need to start hugging everyone you see for minutes a day. Start small, maybe with a deliberate and intentional hug before and after the workday when you say goodbye to your partner in the morning. Add extra hugs for your kids, and when they ask for a hug make sure at least a few times a day that you put down anything distracting and really focus on connecting. No wimpy side hugs here!
Not a big people-hugger? Turns out you can get a similar oxytocin boost and subsequent health benefits from taking a few minutes to pet your cat or dog instead.
How it can help: Besides the boost in oxytocin and the health benefits, taking a break to connect with the important people in your life with a hug each day helps you maintain a strong bond. When you spend all day apart or spend a lot of your time together distracted from each other, ten deliberate seconds can be an amazing recharge. It can also help you create some time to chat with your friends or family distraction-free.
Slow Down and Rest
Now that you have our top four tips to slow down, disconnect, and take a little rest, put the phone down and start with one tip right now.