Lately, I have had a significant number of clients discussing how overwhelmed and unproductive
they are with everyday life. They feel tired and unmotivated throughout the day. It was discovered that their brain is tired. Daily life can be a struggle, especially when our brain does not get a break. Day-to-day life is frequently filled with never ending lists (which may or may not get written down and crossed off), as well as perfectly timing and prioritizing those lists, and all those other little essential and non-essential things we think about on a daily basis. Luckily for us, there are things we can do to help recharge our brain. Here are some ways to help our brains get the break it needs throughout the day.
1. Deep breathing – There are many ways to practice deep breathing. One way I encourage deep breathing is by visualizing your lungs as a vase and the air as water. With each inhale, imagine filling the vase with water. You want to completely fill the vase with water all the way to the top (minimum of a 4 count). You will notice your stomach expanding. Hold your breath for a minimum of a 4 count. Then imagine you are pouring the water out of the vase and making sure to pour out every drop (minimum of a 4 count). You will notice your stomach flattening, as if you are “sucking in.” Repeat 3-5 times.
2. 5 senses – Take time to identify different things with each of your senses. Name 5 specific items you see. Name 5 specific things you can smell. Name 5 specific objects you can hear. Name 5 different physical things you feel (not emotions). If eating or drinking, name 5 of the ingredients you taste.
3. Muscle tensing – Try clenching and unclenching your fists and notice the way your hands feel as you unclench and relax the muscle. You can do this with any muscle in your body. Be sure to focus on the difference that particular muscle feels.
4. Visualization – Sometimes people need a figurative “happy place” or a “calm, serene scene” that they create in their mind. For me, I like to imagine a creek with clear water and it is running over smooth, flat rocks of different shades of gray and brown. It has trees lining the banks with big green leaves that blow in the gentle breeze. The sky is blue up above the trees and you can see the sky with the sun and no clouds directly above the water. The creek is never ending and is constantly at a slow and steady current. The water sometimes goes around the bigger rocks, almost boulders in the middle of the creek and on the banks.
5. Connect with nature – Being outside in the hot, muggy summer to the below-freezing winter helps clear our minds. Go take a walk outside (dress appropriately!) and if you feel up to it, collect things along the way. Maybe a leaf that fell and has started to change colors. What does it feel like? Perhaps a rock that has an interesting color and smooth edges. What about hearing a bird or the cicadas singing their song? Take the song home with you in your head to remember and bring out later if you want to.
While this list seems elementary, it can be the simpler things that help give our brains the little breaks it needs throughout the day. By consistently utilizing these breaks, you will find yourself feeling less tense and more in control and productive with your day. If there is a big event or stressful situation going on, then add more of these breaks during each day. Give your brain the breaks it needs to recharge.
About the Writer: Elizabeth Finley, LMFT
Liz has experience working with a variety of
clients including individuals, couples, families,
and adolescents/children. She has experience
working with relational struggles, addiction, anxiety,
depression, anger and aggression, and stress