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Why you need a Weekly Reset

Why you need a Weekly Reset

How many times have you said the following to yourself? “I can’t wait for vacation to start so I can reset, refresh and get going again.” Or perhaps… “I wish I had a vacation coming up so I could reset, clear my mind and refocus” And while thinking about how much you need a reset and a vacation, the actual time between now and your actual vacation keeps growing so much that we keep building up this event so we can rest, rethink our priorities and re-energize.

If we come back from our vacation rejuvenated, the reset was a success, if we don’t the reset was not long enough – we didn’t have enough time on our vacation to accomplish all that we wanted to do.  And/or if we come back totally stressed out, we blame it on doing too much on the vacation, instead of resting

But all of this could not be further from the truth because the problem is not what you are doing to reset, but rather the frequency of the reset itself. No matter the long hours you are working, the project deadlines and deliverables, you need to have an ongoing, consistent reset that has the potential to replenish your spirit – physically, emotionally and spiritually. That’s a tall order, but not impossible.

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There are a number of paths a weekly reset can take – they don’t all need to be sweat inducing marathons of yoga or deep introspective reading but they should be enough to free your mind and disengage it from your day-to-day so it forces you to focus solely on the task at hand.

Physical

Exercise is a great reset because it jumbles all the chemicals in your body and forces you to focus on the next task at hand – that next run, those next barbells, that last push-up – primarily because if you fall or drop a dumbell, it is going to hurt.

But even when you have such a dedicated focus on the task at hand, your mind wanders from your problems at hand to focussing on the pain in your knee (how can you make it better) or the sore muscles in your shoulder (which feel good) as your mind leaves the results of the last meeting behind you.

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I have never practiced yoga but have watched as many people eagerly attend sessions that let them focus on balance and stretching for an hour or more – leaving the room energized, motivated and refreshed. For awhile I was doing a lot of swimming and found this a great way to relax and refresh. Thinking of work problems stopped when I swam repetivive laps back and forth for an hour.

Mental

Reading a book in a genre you have never read before or writing about a topic that you have no knowledge or experience writing in are great ways to reset your mind to other problems and learn something new at the same time. Think back to when you wanted to build that backyard deck and you had to buy all those books to learn what to do. You’d read, spend time drawing it out, looking at what other people had done and learning. You might not have known it at the time, but you gave yourself a mental reset.

Spiritual

Without going into religion or faith, we all need to replenish and reset our spirit as often as we can. What that means to anyone can be very different – some people welcome and enjoy the company of others, feeding off their energy as a community to feel replenished while others prefer the solidarity of being left to their own thoughts while they watch the wind blow through the trees.

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There is no magic answer except for understanding and becoming aware that this level of reset is important for you to re-evaluate who you are and where you are going. It is not easy and generally involves us asking ourselves some hard questions about ourselves. And when do we generally have time to do this? When on vacation, when we can think and ponder on actions and decisions we have taken.

A reset can be anything but watching TV on your device of choice, is not a reset, instead, it’s more or less of a middle ground where you watch what is happening, but you drift to picking up your phone, reading that book or doing something else. It doesn’t require your focus and doesn’t leave you feeling replenished. TV can be great for relaxation and enjoyment but not as a reset.

And therein lies the key to any reset, it must pull in your focus 100% to the task at hand. I have found time over time that the best resets are the ones that thrust us out of our known comfort zone. Something that we are not familiar with, that requires 100% of your focus because you can’t waiver. This is why vacations are such a great reset because we go somewhere new, try something different, enjoy a new type of cuisine, the list is endless of all the “new” things we do that take us outside of our comfort zone.

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Think back to how refreshed and energized you felt when you came back from your last vacation, now step back and think to where and how you commit to getting that feeling every week, those fresh eyes and worldview and how they would benefit not only the problems you are working on but the problems your team and others are working on and how much better a position you would be in to help them out.

Featured photo credit: VFS Digital Design via imcreator.com

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Greg Thomas

Software Architect

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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