Seriously, go outside right now. I’m not kidding. Even if you are reading this at midnight and it’s -30 degrees out, get up and do it. If you are in the middle of a project and taking a break to surf the net, it’s even more reason to get up and do it.
When you get outside, take three great breaths in through your nose and exhale them through your mouth. Notice your surroundings, feel the temperature of the air around you, listen to the sounds, and slow down.
I Used to Be Jealous of Smokers
When I was in college, at design school, I used to be secretly jealous of the smokers. No joke. And let me tell you, 90% of the students at design school smoke. Besides the bad habit, perpetual stink, and potential for cancer, they had it going on. As a class, we would be working on some crazy tight deadline for a design project and these guys would go outside and take smoke breaks- all. the. time. After the smoke break, the group would come back into the studio all giggly and happy, laughing about something that had happened outside. Meanwhile, I was working nonstop with my nose to the grind, trying to get things done and being cranky because of the endlessly long hours. I may have thought I was getting more work done then them, but I had no real way of knowing. When the project was due, it was done. I also wasn’t guaranteed that my output of work was any better than theirs.
What I did know was, they were having a whole lot more fun doing it than I was and with a clearer mind because they were allowing themselves a break to get some fresh air, recalibrate, and relax.
When I realized this, the answer is no, I did not take up smoking to get a break. (Just had to mention that for my Maman.) And, it was many more years before I allowed myself to take breaks and rest. Occasionally, I still have a problem with this. However, I have never once regretted taking a break and being outside.
We Are Not Indoor Pets
Let’s face it. Most of us spend way too much time inside, physically and in our minds. We work long hours, we commute long distances, we spend too much time in meetings, we workout inside a gym, and we all think too much about a lot of things that do not matter.
Getting outside gives you all the physical benefits of fresh air – Vitamin D, improved digestion, etc. More importantly, it allows you a change in perspective by changing your environment. It allows you a chance to rejuvenate for a few moments. This could literally make or break your day. If you take the moment to slow down and become aware, I am certain you will find something you have never noticed before. Perhaps there is a detail in a building that catches your eye, or the sound of a peculiar bug catches your ear, or maybe you smell someone cooking some tasty barbecue.
Those shifts in perception can take you away from the stress of an impending deadline, a fight with a lover or worries about finances. It gives you the break you need to go back in refocused and to get back to it with renewed energy. In the long run, this will help you in all areas of your life.
Just Go Outside
So… don’t dilly dally, just go outside and follow my steps above. I’m sure it will change your day.
If you have time, the best way to kill two birds with one stone, is to take your exercise outside. Going for a hike in the woods or a walk on a city rail trail are fantastic options. Just remember to breathe and become aware of your surroundings.
Let me know, in the comments below, how you like to take a break.
Stress Less and Live Better
For most of us, the day-to-day stress of our jobs, our social lives, our families — it can feel like too much to bear. I share my own experiences with stress management (along with lots of other tips that have helped me feel happier in my life) on my newsletter.