By David Piltz, MA, MFT
Often time in life and in relationships it seems that being still is not a priority. “Things have to get done.”, is a statement I hear often in the therapy room. There seems to be this intangible pressure in this world to get things done. In fact, many clients describe feelings of overwhelmingness and anxiousness because they don’t feel they are able to get it all done. Have you ever felt that way? The truth is that we are not built for just getting things done. We are built to have rest. Being still is resting.
What does it take for you to be still? In this world, stillness seems to be a goal to grasp for or one that is part of self-care and exercise. It seems the message of society and our world is that you can be still for just a small time each day – but your real focus needs to be on your TO DO lists. It seems rewards abound when you focus on all the things that have to be done. It seems rewards are scare when we are still and present with yourself. The truth is that the more still you are the more rewards you will experience.
There are two focuses in life. One focus is in getting things done and taking care of others. This focus in on efficiency, making others feel good and caring for their needs. Can you relate to this focus? Where in your life is your focus on your to do list, getting things done, and caring for others? It’s draining isn’t it?
But yet this exhaustion and feeling drained seems to be celebrated in our society. There is a myriad of suggestions on how to continue by managing the exhaustion and feeling drained. We are bombarded with how the latest TV show, vitamin, health food, type of pillow or bed will help us to manage the exhaustion so that we can continue building and working on our TO DO lists. Can you relate? When have you gone to bed not already thinking of what you have to do tomorrow? It seems that society has instilled in us that not only are we supposed to do our TO DO list for today but we should simultaneously create tomorrows TO DO list. Can you relate?
It seems counter-intuitive, but our focus shouldn’t be on our TO DO lists and taking care of others exclusively. It should be focusing on ourselves and taking care of ourselves by being still. Stillness creates calmness and a sense of hope as it can reset our anxious minds and allow problem solving to increase. Still provides emotional regulation and response instead of emotional reactions.
Learning to be still is crucial and you can find many theories and ways to maintain stillness. Here are two ways that take very little time but can create the stillness needed to reset your feelings of overwhelmingness and anxiousness.
Breath. Take a moment and close your eyes and breath deep into your stomach letting it expand to full capacity. Then slowly breathe out letting your stomach move towards your spine. Do this several times. Deep breathing creates a calming stillness that has can reduce blood pressure and help your metabolic processes to normalize. Taking 5 minutes three times a day to breath intentionally and slowly will create stillness.
Clearing Thoughts. Take time to just be and not focus on anything. Ideally be in a quiet place with little to no distractions and just close your eyes and just be. That means whenever a thought comes to you – dismiss it and let it go. Clear your mind of your thoughts. Notice how your body is feeling. Are you sitting or standing? Does anything hurt? Clearing your thoughts allows you to create a stillness that refreshes yourself. It is like a small hydration break from the field of life. This break benefits all aspects of yourself and creates a way for you to refresh yourself quickly. Intentionally clearing your thoughts three times a day for a few minutes each time will create stillness.