Don’t Forget to Breathe

With new technology, more distractions, and the ever-quickening pace of life no matter which corner of the Earth we live on, it’s almost impossible to not get overwhelmed and overscheduled with our tasks, our responsibilities, our friends, our family…everything contributes to and impacts our schedules no matter if we like it or not. So how can we do it all and not lose our marbles (or previous beauty sleep)?

Understand. Before we begin anything, the first step is to understand ourselves. So many people I’ve talked to really don’t know their own habits, strengths, and weaknesses until I actually pointed it out to them. What I mean by “understanding” is to be honest with yourself and admit to your shortcomings (I have tons, I’ll admit that right here), your bad habits, and know what makes you, well, tick. As Carl Jung, famous Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology puts it, “your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.” Maybe that sounds too…mushy for you, but understanding goes a long way because it will help you discover what you’ve been doing all along, and maybe even along the way, find what you can do for the future.

Key questions to ask:

  1. When do I get overwhelmed? How do I know I am in way over my head?
  2. What tasks give me the most stress? What things do I take the longest on?
  3. What are my bad habits? What are my good habits?

“Your vision will only become clear when you look into your heart.” -Carl Jung, Founder of Analytical Psychology

Organize. We all know this word, yet so few of us do it. Yes, it is a chore to get organized; and yes, it’s even harder to stay organized; but alas, my friends, organizing doesn’t have to be the chore that it is. The way I organize myself is to keep a calendar and write down everything I have to do because I’m a visual person. I like to see what’s in front of me and I like it even more when I get to cross things off a list. But if you’re not like me, then find a way that works for you. We don’t have to limit ourselves to one way because this is your life, and only YOU will know how to get it in order.

Key things to do:

  1. Make a list of your tasks to do. Maybe even convert to the “today list” principle as described in Winning Without Losing and explained on CNBC by the authors.
  2. Sort your tasks in the order you want. (I usually use the deadline approach, where the ones with the fastest deadlines make it to the top; but occasionally, I like to squeeze in an activity I like too).
  3. Break into smaller activities.
  4. Complete and check away!
  5. Make sure you sync this calendar to any or all devices as needed. I like to remind myself, but then again, I’m a very forgetful person.

Peace. There’s this great quote by the Dalai Lama XIV, which goes a little something like this:

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”

This habit of finding peace can come in all sizes and shapes.

Key Activities:

Detach. When I get stressed and need to detach myself a little, I quite literally take a walk in the park and just sit in one spot for at least fifteen minutes. My peace comes from giving me that time to breathe deeply and be away from the world for just a little bit. Just like Stuart Crabb, the director in the executive offices of Facebook, it’s good to detach ourselves sometimes. It’s amazing what we can accomplish after finding that inner peace, as many top executives can attest to today with their meditation practices. Laughing is an often overlooked method of detaching, but boy it works wonders! Check out Thomas Flindt’s book Happy Lemons on the topic – or better yet, watch his video and get an immediate dose of chuckle.

Play. If you’re more of the active type, try doing some physical exercise. Some people like to pound it down the pavement in running shoes, while others like to play Frisbee with their furry companions. If dribbling that ball or serving that ace is what gets you to clear your mind, then make sure to do it! Forget about your other obligations for now. Not only do you tone your muscles, you get many additional benefits too.

Sleep. Finally, if you’ve been lacking some z’s lately, try new ways to take effective naps. I haven’t tried them yet because I know I like to sleep for hours on end, but they do look promising. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find more peace as well and make use of my long ride to work.

Between running from one destination to another, whether it’s for school or for work, and managing my five thousand other tasks (or just trying to be a superwoman in general), I often get asked how it’s possible that I do it all and still have the time to breathe. Truth is, sometimes I feel I haven’t. At these occasion I use the above game plan, and get myself back on the joyful track. Because life’s too short. So don’t forget to breathe.

Images from: Lila Vinyasa

Yang Lin

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