As I write this, it is quiet here, peaceful you could say. It is 6am and my scruffy dog Merlin lies curled up, resting, having had a run along the beach chasing seagulls. This is my favourite time of the day, the time of the day before the world really gets going. Time for me to sit and contemplate, time to meditate or write, before the phone starts ringing and before I feel obliged to check the emails.
You see, I have started getting up earlier these days when I realised the benefits in terms of managing stress. Having this time out just for myself is bliss, it is an opportunity to charge up the batteries and prepare myself for the inevitable demands of my day. Walking in solitude, looking up at the sky and watching the new morning break is very calming and life affirming. It really helps get things in perspective.
Having spent the best part of thirty years working in psychological health leads me to realise that one of the primary underlying causes of stress and mental breakdown is lack of “time out.” Yes, I realise that not everyone has a beach, wood or even a dog to take for a walk. Not everybody would want to anyway! However, that said, taking a few minutes to lock the bathroom door and have a quiet soak in some fragrant oils, taking time to meditate or sitting with a cup of tea looking out of the window at the world beyond, can have the same beneficial effect.
Setting aside some quiet time for you, just a few minutes alone before the hustle and bustle of the day begins can really make a difference. Allowing yourself, giving yourself permission to have some “you time” for peaceful contemplation is one small change that you could make that might just change your life!
Along with this change, I would recommend stopping in the middle of the day to do the same, perhaps sitting in a park or other leafy place, perhaps feeding the ducks or pigeons. Failing that, even sitting in a shopping mall taking time to focus on the movement of your breathing can have the same effect, that of mentally quietening your mind, rejuvenating and calming the body.
For a long time I have recommended to those who work in stressful and demanding jobs, that, before they come home they park up near some trees or by a field or hedge and listen to the birds for a few minutes. This serves as a natural “decompression tank,” affording similar benefits to “time out” in the morning. You see, the meeting of two worlds on getting home can, itself be stressful.
From today, take some “time out”, if you can.
Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapist.
Main ref: “Don’t sweat the small stuff…and its all small stuff” by Richard Carlson