For those days…
…when your brain goes on strike,
…when your eyeballs are screaming at you,
…when your lower back and neck just can’t take it anymore,
Here are 7 simple ways to reset yourself — your mind and your body — to get back into an attentive zone, so you can do the work that matters.
1 | Breathwork
Spend a minute (or more) and do some deep, conscious breathing.
It’s a common misperception that breathwork is meditative only. Breathwork can provide a meditative environment, but it also gets your body fully activated and engaged and shifts the gears in your HPA axis from the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-flight-freeze state to the parasympathetic nervous system’s more regulated engagement.
- Use an app or free online resource. I use “The Iceman” Wim Hof’s app (which uses The Wim Hof Method). I’ve also heard positive things about the Flourish app, with “The Breath Guy” Richie Bostock.
- Find a practitioner who holds in-person (or virtual) classes or who you can work with 1-on-1. I’ve taken a couple virtual lessons with Aigul Safiullina (Respira Breathwork) and highly recommend her.
2 | Sound
Curate the sound waves you’re feeding your brain.
If you've never really thought about the effect of sound waves on your attitude and perspective, Ben Greenfield held an interview with NeuroAcoustic’s Dr. Jeffrey Thomas, which is a great primer for learning more about the role of sound in your day-to-day functioning. We don’t know enough about how the human brain interacts with sound, but a simple switch to some different audio waves can relax and stimulate your brain in a way that completely changes how you engage with whatever challenge is in front of you.
- Notice the sounds that are already around you. Just tuning into the place you’re in and becoming conscious of those sounds engages you differently.
- Switch from verbal to nonverbal music (or even music in a language you don’t understand). This is one of my favorite instrumental albums. There are also some great dedicated apps and sites for classical music (I really like Primephonic). You can also find foreign music playlists on any music player, for a new way of hearing musical patterns and connections (and a break from the same-old stuff you’ve got on repeat). I’ve been getting into this Arabic playlist lately.
- Listen to a binaural soundtrack.
- I’ve been getting really into Sound Baths lately, which target delta brain wave states. Pause + Expand holds a free monthly virtual sound bath that is open to anyone to join.
3 | Color
Just looking at color can completely change how you engage with your day. It can really pay off to actively seek out small ways in which you can interact with color in a way that brings you more small, daily joy.
- Find a way to add some to your office, or wherever you spend most of your time. Paint your walls something other than white (paint them a color that energizes you!). Buy a piece of art. Do something to introduce some more color into your environment.
- This is a wonderful watercolor meditation class (for anyone / all levels).
4 | Deep Stretching
Stretching is about so much more than flexibility, and yoga is about so much more than meditation. If you’ve never before taken a yoga class I highly recommend it — there are options for everyone, no matter who you are or how uncomfortable you may be in that setting.
- Spend a minute in Child’s Pose.
- The Down Dog app is great for at-home yoga sessions that fit whatever your needs are for that day.
- Support your local yoga instructor. Search for local facilities and find out what services they’re offering currently.
5 | Nature
A few minutes of fresh air — or even simply taking a minute to be in the presence of a houseplant or to look out the window at a tree — can clear your head and put you in a completely different zone.
- Just take a minute to look out the window.
- Go for a 5- to 15-minute walk around the block — or spend an hour or two in a local park.
- Use the Roadtrippers app to get away for a day (or more).
6 | Switch Your Reactive-Corrective Approach for an Observational-Experimental One
This one is the most consciousness-driven activity on the list...
- Use one of the many meditative apps or free online soundtracks available.
- Steal a page from ACT’s Happiness Trap exercises. (Steven Hayes also has some good resources.)
- I’m an advocate for finding as many mundane, daily opportunities as possible to break from the habits you think you should follow and to find a more intentional habit instead. One of my personal favorite ways in which I do this has been by getting rid of my morning alarm.
7 | Free Movement
Let loose. Practice the art of acting — living — without caring about anyone’s perceptions (including your own).
- Have a totally-free, you-be-you dance party, alone in your room.
- Have a totally-free, you-be-you dance party, with a friend (or more).
- Be really brave, and have a totally-free, you-be-you dance party, out in a park.
Need a soundtrack? Here you go.
It doesn’t have to take much to get back to a refocused state. A little break here and there, a couple changes in environment, a few small breaks in habit — can go a long way.
Each week, I do a deep-dive into the question of living meaningfully.
To receive the next publication, sign up below: