Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ten Cheap Ways to Relax When You Have Too Many Items on Your To Do List

1. Stand up. Take four boxing jabs that do not connect with a living creature or anything hard enough to hurt your hand. Sit down. Repeat ten times. Go back to work.

2. Spend exactly one hour on a priority project, then pat yourself on the back for making outstanding progress. Go to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee or a glass of ice water (or whatever), and stand at the window for five minutes to watch the weather. Repeat as needed. You never know what the weather might do if you aren't paying attention. Go back to work.

3. Spend thirty minutes to an hour doing a chore that will raise your heart rate. I took my box cutter to the garage and spent an hour cutting cardboard for the recycle bin. It's harder than you think, but I feel good (and I didn't cut myself, either). Go back to work.

4. Stand with your back against a wall. Make sure your heels, butt, and shoulders touch the wall. Suck in your gut and try to press the small of your back to the wall. If you can actually do this, don't tell me. Hold. Relax. Drop your head to stretch your neck and touch the back of your head to the wall. Hold. Relax. Repeat the lower back and neck stretch five times. Roll your shoulders. Go back to work.

5. Get up very early. Brew a pot of Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer herbal tea. Drink it iced or hot. While you drink the tea, sit quietly in a chair and think. Relax your shoulders. Close your eyes. Don't drop the tea in your lap. When you finish the tea (not the whole pot, silly), check the sunrise. Admire it. Take a picture. Now go to work.

6. Examine your To Do List and pick something you don't really have to do. If your personal life and your career will not suffer, cross the item off the list. There. Doesn't that feel better? For best results, do it again. Then go back to work.

7. Take a ten minute music break. Put your favorite CD in your boom box. Sit still and listen or sing along. Get up and dance if you want to. Oh, what the heck, make it a thirty minute music break. But don't forget to go back to work.

8. Yell. Okay, first wait until everyone is out of the house. Then holler as loud as you can. I personally don't care what you say when you yell, but if your neighbors can hear you, you might want to yell song lyrics or something similar that won't offend or alarm them. You only need to do this for a minute, then go back to work.

9. Buy a small drum and learn the basic hand positions and rhythms (or not...it works even if you have no idea what you're doing). Take occasional five minute drumming breaks. It feels great. If you're sticking to a strict budget, buy a kid's tambourine. Or use a waste can turned upside down. Be creative. The point is, pound on something and feel the beat (but don't hurt yourself). Then go back to work.

10. Stop working. Think. Why are you so stressed? Procrastination? Can't say no to new projects? Your husband is practicing Morse code right across the hall? Whatever the reason, own it. You got yourself into this mess, you need to work your way out of it (or just shut the door so you can't hear the noise). Take a deep breath. Then another deep breath. Now go back to work.

I'm going back to work now.


Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

11. Visit Pat's place, smile, and then go back to work.

Number 4's tricky.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patricia - I love these suggestions : ). Thank you! For me, being a pet lover, I would add: take your dog for a brisk walk. Ten minutes is enough to make the dog comfortable and fill your lungs with air. Pet your dog, too. Now get back to work.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Those are such practical suggestions, Patricia. I really should print it out and stick it somewhere where I can see it (if not, I should put "read PS's post" on my To Do List.
And while earlier I always had my tea or water on the go, I now take time off to stand by the window while sipping it- the world is beautiful!

Mason Canyon said...

These are all great tips. I'm saving this to remind me if I unwind, I'll do better at what I need to do. Thanks. Have a wonderful day.

Thoughts in Progress

Terry Odell said...

Great suggestions. I knew that Middle-Eastern drum I got back in college would come in handy.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Hart Johnson said...

This is the perfect answer to my blog today, which is about all the things I have to do, so THANK YOU for this!

Carol Kilgore said...

These are great ideas. Some of them I might actually do - LOL - like the boxing jabs and the wall thingie. I already know what I'm crossing off my to-do list ... dusting and running the vacuum :)

Jenny said...

I'm going to do the second one (with the option of having a piece of chocolate with my coffee/tea/whatever). Then #7. And I've already walked the dog, so I feel ahead of the game.

Mary said...

Great fun suggestions -- except maybe #4 which seems a little torturous to me.
Breaks over. See you tomorrow. LOL

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Can I substitute my guitar for the drums? I can strum really hard. And crank my amp.

Kay Theodoratus said...

LOL. Good suggestions. I also provide the Wiggles with a lap. He moves around so much I can't go back to sleep.

Clarissa Draper said...

These are really good. I'm going to tweet it.


Anonymous said...

A bottle of wine works too. But only after dinner. If you're chugging wine for breakfast, bigger issues are at stake.

Stephen Tremp

Patricia Stoltey said...

Greetings, everyone. I was off talking about writing (instead of writing) with a friend at the Northern Colorado Writers studio this morning. It's amazing how full my mailbox gets if I play hooky for a couple of hours.

I'm loving your extra suggestions (thanks, Simon, that was sweet), and yes, #4 is not meant to be mastered, only attempted. The idea is to work on posture which suffers a lot when we spend too many hours at the computer.

Steve's suggestion works as long as you don't intend to work on into the evening. I have a new rule: Don't write blog posts, e-mails, or blog comments while under the influence (which reinforces Steve's caution about chugging wine for breakfast).

Alex, the guitar is good, but pounding on something is even better. I wouldn't want you to hurt your guitar. Cranking up the amp is good if you're mad at your neighbors, but try not to get yourself cited by the city as a public nuisance. :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot and Jenny -- I know I need to get a dog. My brother never misses his twice daily walks since he adopted a rescue Scottie.

Rayna -- yes, the world is beautiful. Another relaxing thing for me is to get outside with my camera and start shooting. My mind empties of everything except the scene. I should add that to my list.

Mason -- Something as simple as a few stretches can make us feel better. I need to get a timer for my office as a reminder to get up and move.

Terry -- After attending that drumming session a couple of months ago, I decided to get a drum. Haven't done it yet, but the wastebasket just isn't working for me.

Hart -- I need to get over to your blog and check out your post. If your list is longer than my list, I'll feel better. Of course, if your list is shorter...

Carol -- dusting and vacuuming do not belong on a TO DO List. However, I will admit to occasionally (very occasionally) dusting to music. :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Mary -- no torture is intended here. Just stretch and then sit up straight while you work.

Hi Kay -- Wiggles sounds like fun. I do love cats (but they don't require walking, which I need to do).

Clarissa -- Thanks so much for the tweet. It's amazing how much difference a couple of tweets a day will make.

Karen Walker said...

This is a wonderful list. I don't have a drum, but like Alex, I strum the guitar, I sing, I dance, so I think I'm okay. The posture thing sounds difficult, not sure I'll try it, given my back issues. But love the rest.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

You are a great organiser,
I have a routine for the first three hours of the day which starts at 6am after that it all depends how the mood takes me. I love walking especially along the beach so many a hour is spent there some days, others are writing and reading also visiting my family.
Loved your post and suggestions.


Eric W. Trant said...

I never stop drumming. I'm a tapper, and for me, that drumming with my hands and feet and even clacking my teeth will sate me for a little while.

I can play the heck out of a bongo, by golly. You know, a steel kitchen sink is a pretty good bongo drum, if you don't have one. So is a big-dog's belly and an empty plastic bottle (hold with one hand and finger-tap).

And that rainbow pic is deja vu for me. We had that rainbow here in Dallas last week, a double rainbow, took a picture that looked so like yours I had to check to make sure it wasn't the same.

- Eric

Patricia Stoltey said...

Karen, I think anyone who plays an instrument, sings, or dances has a head start on the rest of us for relaxing activities. I need to spend some time at my keyboard and see if I remember how to play.

Hi Yvonne. I'll get back into walking mode as soon as the weather is cooler (and the air clearer). Right now our air is thick with the smell of smoke from the wildfires burning out in the hills.

Eric -- I have a steel kitchen sink. I'll give it a try (although I like the sound of bongos better). My rainbow was in Colorado, last fall I think. Rainbows, sunsets, and sunrises are my favorite things...and high surf and aspens turning gold and a snowfall with no wind...

Jemi Fraser said...

Love Simon's #11 addition! :)

The mustic one usually works best for me!

Ciss B said...

So many people I know are so afraid to slow down! These say it all - simply take a few moments to look around you where you are right now.

Tonight I stood in the wind at my back door just standing there and feeling the wind and watching the clouds skat across the sky...it was so lovely!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Jemi and Ciss -- I agree -- music and weather can really help us enjoy the moment. We just need to stop, look, and listen.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Love these suggestions and I'm going try most of them today! How we get so engrossed in "to do lists"! Taking the breaks revives and renews us. I may have to hang a big sign over my desk that says, "Enjoy Recess"!

arlee bird said...

You've got some good suggestions here. Some of these I already do and some I may have to try. If we don't get a recharge once in a while we become less productive and end up wasting time.
No point in unnecessarily having to deal with bad stress.

Tossing It Out