The Gift of Quiet
How often do you allow yourself some quiet time? And I mean quiet - no noise whatsoever...just you on your own in peace?
If you're anything like me, the answer will be "not very often" or not at all, but it's taking its toll.
I've been mentally tired for a few months now and I couldn't work out why...I exercise every other day, I sleep reasonably well, I've massively cut down on my wine consumption and I eat well.
Thinking about this last week, it dawned on me, my environment is never "quiet"...I'm having conversations with my daughter, my friends, my peers, my clients or the TV or radio is on or I'm listening to music or a podcast while I work out or the cat is meowing for his tea 4 hours before it's due!
I am never in the quiet which means when I do go to bed and everything is switched off, my brain can finally sort out its thoughts in peace! This often means I don't fall asleep straight away.
On Saturday morning, I woke with a million thoughts whirring in my head but instead of getting up and switching on all the noise, I chose to lie in bed with the quiet. I used the Box Breathing technique* (created by Mark Divine to manage stress), to encourage myself to focus only on counting my breathing.
My mind and body were peaceful for maybe ten minutes, but the difference was amazing. I felt well rested, refreshed and ready to tackle my other thoughts with clarity.
I will never give up all the noise, I love it too much, but being present with only my breathing for even a short amount of time is a gift to myself and it's helping me to tackle my tiredness and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Maybe it's something you could try when the world just seems a bit too much?
*Box breathing is a simple technique that you can do anywhere, including at a work desk or in a cafe. It is called box breathing to encourage people to think about a box as they do it.
To try box breathing:
- sit with your back supported in a comfortable chair and your feet on the floor
- close your eyes and then breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly, feeling the air enter into your lungs
- hold your breath while counting slowly to four, trying not to clamp your mouth or nose shut
- slowly exhale while counting slowly to four
- hold the exhale for the count of four
- repeat steps 2 to 5 at least three times