Life continues to get more and more hectic, moving at a faster pace than ever. These days, many people bring work home or already work at home, making it difficult to get away and just breathe.
Even when we aren’t busy earning a living, we may be talking to friends all over the world, playing video games or actively doing something – it’s just go, go, go. There’s no time for quiet contemplation or just sitting and doing nothing at all.
Quiet is something we all need more of in our lives.
Downtime is thought to help sharpen your thinking skills, helps you develop compassion and supports mental health, according to a 2012 article in Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Despite today’s high tech world, with the ability to instantly download music, or chat with those who are thousands of miles away, we just don’t seem to take the time to shut it all off and experience quiet.
Quiet is not only important for our mental health, it’s essential for physical and spiritual health as well. Physicians, ministers and teachers of all types of spiritual traditions agree that taking a regular retreat from inner and outer noise is a must for health and happiness.
But how do we stop all that noise?
We get a rush from behaviors that distract, like constantly checking email or Facebook, which stimulates the brain to release dopamine into the bloodstream, actually making it harder to stop.
Many of us unconsciously fear the consequences of stopping inner and outer noise, so we tend to make excuses, convincing ourselves that it would be detrimental to do so. We might tell ourselves that we work better when it’s chaotic, our schedules are too busy, or perhaps that the quiet makes us feel lonely.
Stop listening to the excuses your brain is coming up with and consider incorporating these acts into your life, which can provide the quieter life you need:
Start the day off in a quiet space. Instead of racing to get your coffee or turning on the TV, take the first ten minutes of your morning to engage in a silent activity. You could stretch, meditate or just look out the window.
Focus on counting your breaths. Sit in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and place your hands on your lap or your thighs. Pay attention to your breath and mentally begin to count each one. If you notice thoughts come into your mind, visualize each one as a cloud that just floats away, and return to counting the breath.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation. Lie down and tense specific muscle groups for five seconds at a time, and then relax them for ten seconds, beginning from your feet and working up to your head. Include your feet, legs, hips, pelvis, back, torso, chest, arms, shoulders, neck and face. Rest in the stillness for as long as you like.
Go for a walk without purpose. Just give yourself time alone with your thoughts.
Take time to pause. When you feel the urge to socialize online, pause for a moment. Give yourself a little quiet time instead.
Make time for creating. Whether it’s art, writing, storytelling, quilting, making a snowman or anything else you can think of, remember that creating is good for the mind, body and soul.
Declutter. Create a peaceful space.
Slow down. If you find yourself rushing all the time, take a breath and slow down.
Take time for daily reflection. Think about all that you have to be thankful for.
Creating a quiet space offers a whole new perspective on this busy, chaotic world – and in the quiet, you will find stillness and beauty.
-The Alternative Daily