By Tina Plett
In the last wisps of last summer, it worked out that I got a surprise day off. Oh, magical day!
The minute I discovered I had a day free of emails and phone calls and anything work-related, (a complete rarity for a real estate agent), I grabbed my folding chair and towel and hit the beach. One last time, baby! Here we go!
I drove out to a nearby beach and plunked that chair right in the water, where I sat for the next few hours, sloshing my feet in the cool water and digging my toes deep into the wet sand. I didn’t scroll my phone or even read a book; I just memorized the view, soaking it in, trying to absorb enough to last the winter.
I watched clusters of young children splash in the water. A toddler wandered at the water’s edge near his mom, walking all wobbly and off-balance with raised legs, and plopped face-first into the water. I watched a father and daughter play in the water, tossing a ball back and forth and smiling. It reminded me of how my husband used to do that with our daughter, tossing a Nerf football, laughing together.
Now, years later, each of them still has those memories because they took the time to do it in the first place. I reminisced, people-watched and may have even dozed off right there in my chair. Eventually, as all good things must do, it ended and it was time to return home. Goodbye, beach. Thanks for the memories. I left with my chair, my towel and a heart emptied of stress and filled with peace.
Mine is a career of haste. Of dashing. Of chasing down deadlines. Not figuratively, either – I’m literally racing against time in my car to courier time-sensitive legal documents from one place to another all the time. And connecting with people day in and day out at one of the most stressful times of their lives. Mid divorce. Mid bankruptcy. Mid health crisis. Mid downsize. Many people swirling in a critical mass need to sell their home or buy a new one. It’s a hectic pace.
But I love the rush. I love the challenge of racing against time, of problem solving under pressure, and most of all, of helping people through these difficult times in a way that gets the job done and also makes them feel heard. Understood. Not alone.
But it can be stressful, and in all that swirling twirling haste, a person can lose their marbles in a big way if they’re not careful.
You may not have time to sit at the beach for hours (or anywhere else, for that matter). Me either! But decompressing is critical, and there are quick ways to get it done.
Don’t wait until “later” or for that “big chunk of time” before de-stressing. It’s as useful as waiting to win the lottery. Later is a time that never comes. Instead, sneak moments of rest. Those can be collected from all kinds of corners.
Once you’ve got that down, it’s more about how you de-stress than it is about when or where or for how long. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Yes, I’m serious. For me, singing is a major stress reliever. When I’m working from my home office, I’ll take five minutes – that’s all it takes – and belt out some tunes that have me dancing, swaying my arms and laughing or crying. This is what decompression looks like, friend. Even on a drive to deliver a document (especially if it’s a highway drive where people can’t really see you), you can get in some fantastic tunes.
One of my favourite ways to decompress after a long day is to scroll my Facebook feed and check out what my friends are up to. I’ll dote on the photos of their kids, and snicker at a comic, maybe even send an encouraging note to a friend or two and go to bed feeling connected with people. Loved. Having loved others. Disclaimer: Your feed may need to be filtered for this. If your feed is a depressing place full of life-sucking drama and negativity, it may be time to block and unfriend. There is no need to tax your already stressful life with more negativity. Just sayin’.
Taking five minutes to “check out” of life can really save your sanity. Being fully engaged every minute of the day is unsustainable. It just is. Take five minutes. Alone. Don’t check emails, don’t return messages. Be absolutely, completely unproductive.
For me, a quick fresh-air break is another way I change gears to be “in the moment.” Perhaps a walk to the flower bed and back. Or a moment on the deck. Getting some affection from the dog can put a smile on my face any time of the day!
Play a game on your phone, do a word search or crack open a comic book. Google something completely weird (that’s not at all related to work or personal stresses) – like Flavours of Beer or Weird New Scientific Discovery, or Hairstyles for the Balding.
Let yourself play for a few minutes.
Then, and here’s a big secret people miss – refuse to feel guilty. You did not waste time, you invested it.
What’s a favourite five-minute de-stressor of yours?