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Creating Successful Leaders

Happy holidays! Many people try to relax during this time of year—perhaps attending holiday gatherings or taking a vacation. But many of us struggle with truly relaxing. Modern life has a way of moving quickly…even when you’re trying to slow down.

According to the Center for Integrated Healthcare, there are numerous benefits of deep relaxation. These include reduced anxiety, improved sleep, better concentration, and even improved digestion. But how do you get into a state of relaxation when so many things are vying for your time and attention?

This week, let’s talk about 4 factors that tend to derail relaxation, and how to prevent them from doing so.

1. Notifications

Picture this: You’ve settled in at the dinner table and you’re about to eat a relaxing, homecooked meal with your family. Then, your phone dings and you see that someone has commented on a picture you posted on Instagram. You start dishing up your plate, but your phone dings again. This time, it’s giving you an update on your favorite sports team. Ding! You have a Twitter notification. Ding! An eBook on your wish list is on sale.

Before you know it, your mind is caught up in all the activity on your phone. You’re distracted, and your family dinner no longer feels relaxing. You want to hurry up and get through it so you can attend to all these notifications.

Few things clamor for our attention like our phones. The average person will pick up their phone 58 times per day. It’s clear phones have us on a tight leash!

To combat the pressure to always pick up your phone, try some of the following tactics:

  • Turn off app notifications
  • Periodically put your phone in airplane mode
  • Use an app to track screen time (this will help put things in perspective!)

2. Emails

For many of us, emails take up a large portion of the day. We see an email come in, and we’re immediately pressured to respond. Even if we choose to ignore an email for a while, we know it’s there, hanging out in the back of our minds.

I urge you to set healthy boundaries by taking control of your email. You might choose to only check and reply to email 2-3 times per day. Or you can set a firm “cut off” point (say 5:30 p.m.) where you mute your inbox and step away from emails.

3. Poor Sleep

It’s tough to feel fully relaxed if you’re lacking in the sleep department. Unfortunately, many of us struggle with catching enough zzz’s, and that can make everything more difficult. You can’t be the best version of yourself if you’re running on four hours of sleep and an abundance of caffeine.

To practice good sleep hygiene, try the following best practices:

  • Shut off all screens one hour before bedtime
  • If you’re using screens at night, use blue-light filtering glasses
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Don’t eat immediately before bedtime
  • Remove screens (like TVs) from your bedroom
  • Invest in a good pillow that fits your sleep style (side, back, etc.)

4. Over-Planning

If you’ve over-planned a holiday, it can be difficult to find the relaxation amidst the bustle. You might end up feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation! (See my past blog post on planning a relaxing vacation.)

If you can’t help your planning tendencies, try adding downtime into your schedule of events. Though it may seem strange, it can be immensely helpful to set aside “do nothing” time. This will essentially give you permission to relax, unwind, and go with the flow. You can fill this space if you want, but there’s no pressure to be up and about, doing things. Instead, grab a book, play a game, take a walk, or simply enjoy being present.

Even in our busy, distraction-filled lives, it is possible to relax. Take control of your schedule (and your phone!), don’t over-plan, and focus on being present. You’ve earned it.




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