Focus by taking short breaks

taking_breaks_infographic

Employers take note! This may seem unorthodox and surprising but the numbers speak for themselves. Encourage your staff to take more breaks in order to increase productivity.

Allow staff to be social. Socializing having a bit of down time at work with friends is good for productivity, according to a 2007 study reported in the Journal of Socio-Economics.

Allow staff to nap. Taking a nap during worktime can boost performance and alertness, according to a NASA study of astronauts and pilots. They found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.

Allow staff to work with a flexible schedule.  Having flexibility built into one’s workday helps reduce stress, according to research from Global Workplace Analytics.
Learn more here.

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Guided imagery

The past few weeks, I have been offering mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
Today is no different, this time, I want to offer a guided imagery. This type of activity helps us to slow down and learn to relax.  This is a little more challenging to attempt online in a blog but bear with me.

As with before, begin by getting as comfortable as possible…take a few deep breathes to get relaxed. After reading each statement, close your eyes and try to picture the situation in your mind and read this script slowly, as you follow in on each statement:
Imagine yourself on a tropical island. You can return home any time you wish, but you can stay and enjoy the serenity of the island as long as you care to.
You begin your journey by walking on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach. No one else is in sight. The beach is all yours. The sun is warm on your face…notice a gentle refreshing breeze coming off the water. Listen to the waves flow rhythmically onto the sand. You hear seagulls calling over the powerful ocean. Their voices sound distant compared to the roar of the surf.
You lie in the warm sand to enjoy the peacefulness of this place. The sand is warm and soothing to your body. You close your eyes to the pleasant sun overhead and relax for a while in the comfort of this warmth…as you inhale deeply, you enjoy the fresh smell of the ocean…
Once you feel rested, you notice a grove of palm trees you have never seen before. You start walking toward them…as you get close, you can hear the large palm leaves rustling in the breeze overhead…you find a path entering the grove and follow it…it is much cooler and very refreshing to be in the shade of these trees. As you continue, your path leads you into a tall, dense thicket of tropical plants…it is impossible to see where the path is leading, but you are curious about what lies ahead and also strangely hopeful about what you will find…
After a while, you hear rushing water and see daylight up ahead. You emerge from the thicket and step into a clearing. From a cliff high above, a silver ribbon of waterfall cascades into a pool of water at your feet. The sunlight reflecting off the pool dazzles your eyes…You climb up on a rock at the edge of the pool…and look down into the clear water. The water is the color of sapphires and so deep that you cannot see the bottom.
You look up at the waterfall and notice vividly colored flowers growing out of the rocks along the cliff—blue flowers, lavender ones, red and yellow—all offset by the lush green ferns and moss-covered rocks. As you begin walking toward the waterfall, you come upon a glade of trees covered in orchids. You have never seen so many of the beautiful flowers together. They hang from the trees, forming an enclosure with soft, fragrant walls…now you see things moving among the flowers—crimson and yellow butterflies flitting busily from place to place. You sit down in a sunny spot in the middle of the orchids and butterflies, amazed at the peace and beauty that you alone have discovered…
The sun is warm on your back, and you notice that the sunlight seems to energize the iridescent butterflies as they flutter in and out of it. You, too, begin to feel a sense of renewed energy…and a renewed sense that if you look hard enough, you can find peacefulness and beauty in the world…after today’s journey, you also feel a little more adventurous, more willing to take a path you have not been on before…and less afraid of what lies ahead.

It is now time to return. You can bring the experience of peacefulness and beauty of this tropical paradise with you. Any time you desire, you can close your eyes, breathe deeply, and return to this place.
How was this moment? Was it peaceful and relaxing? Is your mind at ease? There are many similar guided imageries, like this one online. But I also recommend talking to a counselor or pastor, as these professionals are often trained in more specific types of guided imageries. There are Christian based ones and others focused on healing pain/traumatic experiences. It is also helpful to meet a professional, as they have experience at reading these scripts slowly and helping you process after the script is completed.
So now, take with you the most pleasant and peaceful thoughts. For some people it will be laying on the beach and listening to the waves for others it will be sitting on the rock and looking at the wonderful waterfall. Each of us are different and enjoy different hobbies and aesthetics. So when stress or negative things happen to you this week, think upon the imagery that gives you peace. If you have some free time and want to re-read this entire script, please do so or as suggested earlier, find other imageries that are pleasant to you.

Deep breathing and muscle relaxation

Last week, I offered a simple exercise to help you begin thinking about being mindful. 
I challenged you to be fully present in the here-and-now both at work and at home. This exercise helps people to de-stress and be more productive and pleasant to be around bot hat work and at home. 
Today I want to offer some more mindfulness exercises. 
 The first is called deep breathing or belly breathing. 
 First get comfortable. Second take a lot deep breathe in, count to 5 or 6 in your head as the oxygen fills not just your lungs but your entire chest/stomach area should stick out. Next just as with the in, the out should take at least 5 or 6 seconds and your whole belly will again move in as the oxygen is released from your body. Do this 3 to 6 times consecutively. Scientifically this is proven to lower blood pressure, get more oxygen in the brain, improve thinking and fight anxiety. Try this!
With more oxygen flowing through your body, you may begin to feel a little sleepy! That is okay, once you get moving again, you will be energized and more productive and de-stressed.
If you like that, you will also really enjoy this next technique called progressive relaxation. Several clients comment on how useful this is!
First, while continuing the mindful belly breathing, get comfortable in your chair. You can do this in your bed or on a coach as well! Close your eyes and imagine that you are on a cloud, there is nothing else to think about or any worries. Focus on your feet. Tense up your feet and hold the tension for five seconds. Count with me: “1,2,3,4,5.” Now release. Your feet are heavy and tired. Relax. Now focus all your thoughts on your legs. Tense up your leg muscles 1,2,3,4,5, now release! Your legs are heavy. You are on a cloud. There are no worries. You are feeling tired. Now focus on your thighs. (Do the same thing with thighs then again with chest, arms, shoulders, neck  and then head/face).  
Many clients use this technique just before going to bed. This helps them to stop and relax and fall asleep instead of worrying about everything and anything else. This is mindfulness for the body. 
Next week I will offer even another technique that is useful in mindfulness. 

Two Important reasons for rest

I have mentioned several times the importance of resting for self-care and living to our full potential. CEOs, caretakers, pastors and workaholics are dead set in their work ethic. They want to be productive and successful. It is wonderful to be living with such high goals and expectations.  Although, this always-on-the-go lifestyle has it’s downfalls too. We were not created to work this way. The Bible offers a lot of examples and principles for a healthy lifestyle.

The truth is that the Bible offers a picture of balance. Rest is important is a principle depicted by even God the Father, who rested on the seventh day after creating the universe. Jesus followed suit on many occasions He “went away” from everyone to be alone with God the Father to fast, rest and pray. While I could continue on in the theological evidence, I want to also mention that more and more studies are providing the same information that I am arguing from a Biblical perspective. On Wednesday, I posted my weekly links post. This theme for these links is napping. Napping helps people to be well-rested and in turn, more productive. Even Google is embracing the importance of well-rested employees, as they provide rest pods for their workers.

Through the Bible there is a theme centering around boundaries and balance. We can be the most productive and the most pleasant when we have proper boundaries in our lives. Work is definitely a high priority and an important one. At times, it can be difficult to put down the phone and spend time with kids. Important meetings and business deals need to get down, yes. But there are other priorities that need to be balanced as well. How are you doing socially? emotionally? physically? sexually? close relationships?

Your job will not satisfy all of your needs.

This why we need rest and we need balance.
I challenge you to rest this week. Even if it is only marked out for one hour every day this week or blocked out for a Friday or Saturday evening. During this time, enjoy God and enjoy other people. Do not entertain thoughts about your job. Also take care of yourself. Exercise or enjoy a hobby. Get ready for the next storm. Life does not stop, but as a human you should stop and rest.

Napping on the Job

This week’s link encourage the use of naps in your life:

5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day by Michael Hyatt

‘Nap rooms’ encourage sleeping on the job to boost productivity by Today.com

Jesus, even in high demand, rested

Imagine a situation with me. If you felt called by God to walk into a cancer ward and to pray for an individual and image that God healed that person. Immediately. The newly healed person felt healed and there was absolutely no sign of the cancer in this person anymore. You and this person would be ecstatic and jumping up and down on the bed. The nurses and doctors would not know what to do. Then as you walked out of the room, you felt God call you to another room to pray for someone else. Then imagine a similar situation occurring, where God heals the person you pray for. If this continued to happen time and time again, at the very least another sick person with cancer would be calling you, more likely the doctors would want to know what you were doing and even more likely the news would be putting you on the spotlight.

This is just one fictional example of what it might be like to experience what Jesus might have experienced. Can you picture it? Jesus must have been in high demand! There must have been word out of his miraculous healings and wonders. I am sure that people were well aware of what he was doing and I imagine that people wanted his time and his healing touch.

Jesus models something else for us that we really need to take into consideration. Jesus took breaks. He rested. He went away to be alone with God, even in his busiest season. Even when people were still hurting and in need. Even when Jesus was demanded and reached a celebrity status of his time….He went away to be with God alone:

Mark 1 : 35 (NIV): Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 6:46- Jesus, after a busy day of healing people, sent people away so that He could be alone in prayer. If you continue reading the chapter there are still people lined up looking for Jesus (v. 55). Again in Matt. 14: 22-23, Jesus dismissed the crowds, so He could go to the mountainside by Himself to pray. Jesus’ priorities were very clear.  Luke 5:16 says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This was a habit for Jesus. Jesus quietly slipped away again and again, as it is mentioned in Luke 9:10 also.

Jesus rested on the Sabbath and went to the synagogue (Lk. 4:16), the equivalent of going to church on Sunday. The morning before choosing His twelve disciples, Lk. 6 reports that Jesus spent the night in prayer. Throughout His time on earth as a human, Jesus modeled the importance of taking time off to recharge. This involved a lot of prayer. His source truly was God the Father. We too can follow this example and knell before the Lord God, our Father for strength and refreshment as well.