One of my favorite shows growing up was A Different World. I always remember the episode when Whitley sees a therapist, who turns out to be none other than the legendary Debbie Allen, to seek help on her breakup with Dwayne Wayne. Her words of advice to Whitley? “Relax, relate, release!”
So what does this mean exactly? To help explain, I’ll share a little tidbit I stumbled upon tonight while I was catching up on some mag reading. According to Tony Schwartz, chief executive of the Energy Project, “regular refueling after working intensely increases productivity and performance.” That, essentially, is what “relax, relate, release” means. Throughout the course of our week, we encounter so many different situations. Problems we must solve. Projects we must plan. Relationships we must nurture. The list goes on and on. There’s so much we have to process on our jobs and at home that there comes a time when we just need to take a mental break from it all and allow ourselves time to rejuvenate. So let’s take a look at what that looks like step by step.
This means just that. RELAX! Shut your email down for a day or two and focus on things that you actually want to do. You may even want to disconnect from social media during that time as well if that becomes too much of a distraction. Do whatever you need to do to just focus on you. Read. Pray. Take a walk. Work out. Plug in your earbuds and get lost in your iTunes shuffle.
And just so you know, I practice what I preach, I’ll give you an example of something that I did over the weekend to take the edge off after a loooong work week. Typically my weekends consist of catching up on email and working on projects that I was unable to complete during the week because I was either traveling or stuck in meetings all day. But this weekend, as it pertained to checking email, this girl checked out! You will be pleased to know that the majority of the time I spent on my couch completely guilt-free, listening to Janelle Monae and Valerie June, armed with a salted caramel mocha, a cheesecake brownie from Starbucks, and the latest issue of Essence. I also spent some time reading posts from some of my favorite blogs and gathering inspiration for topics that I wanted to explore more in my blogs and upcoming workshops.
I’m happy to report that not only did I enjoy the mental and physical rest, but by allowing my mind to relax a bit and indulge in some leisure activity, I was actually able to overcome the writers’ block I had been experiencing last week and was inspired to work on my blog and brainstorm some creative ideas for my business. It was something about letting my batteries recharge that gave me the energy I needed to really start to think about the direction I wanted to go in with my writing, my business, and my career. When we’re fatigued and pulled in a thousand directions, we’re more likely to go into survival mode which forces us to be more linear in our thinking and reactionary in our planning, as opposed to being proactive about plotting “big picture” moves for your career.
One of the things I’ve been doing that has really helped me is signing up for a personal development email course through The Happy Black Woman. This particular course is taking me on a 31 day track to reset my life. Each day I receive an email in my inbox that encourages me to introspect and think about the world around me so that I can begin to craft better goals for my life. This has made a world of difference because it opens up my thinking in a way that most of my day to day tasks don’t allow me to.
Entering into that state of relaxation allows us to release any pent up negative energy we’ve been holding in. This past week I encountered some challenging situations that discouraged me a bit and carrying that around with me every day was stifling my ability to think clearly. So I had to take some time and look at what about those situations was causing me so much angst, acknowledge how they made me feel, and explore opportunities for growth. Too often I find that I collect incidents and store them somewhere inside of me until they weigh me down. My pastor used to call it the “trash compactor” syndrome. We mash down so much garbage and then eventually it just blows up. I realized, by dealing with those feelings, I was liberated enough to move forward without a chip on my shoulder. After releasing the trash, I had room for fresh initiatives.
So what are some ways that you grab a little rest and inspiration?