Wellness Wednesday: Give Yourself Time to Think

This Wellness Wednesday, I bring you a reflective piece about slowing down, giving ourselves uninterrupted time to think, and observing what comes up for us. There is power in bringing your attention back to yourself. I hope reading this post inspires you to invite more mindfulness into your day and to prioritize yourself.

Making time to think without interruption is something I consciously have to do these days. I know that’s a weird statement, but stay with me on this. We are constantly stimulated with things to do, media to consume, people to talk to, and things to buy. All-day. When I look at how much screen time I spend on my phone or laptop, I’m disturbed. Of course, nowadays, I spend more time than usual plugged in since many of the things I do or enjoy have to be done online now. However, seeing how many hours I spent looking at a screen each week shifted something for me.

I watch a lot of YouTube, like a lot of people I know. And if I’m not careful, I can spend around 2-3 hours looking at YouTube videos in a single day. Sometimes I find myself watching videos that are like junk food after a while – they don’t really satisfy what I’m hungry for or give me any kind of nutritional value. Last year in November I decided to block YouTube from all of my devices for an entire week. The intention then was for me to redirect my energy and focus on what was most pressing at the time. By the second day of no YouTube, I realized two very important things.

The first was that I craved some form of entertainment to get me through the day. Whenever I saw someone watching a video, my eyes naturally floated to their screen. At one point, I resorted to playing Candy Crush… I haven’t played that game in what feels like decades now. I don’t even care about that game. If that game was somehow deleted entirely without a trace to bring it back, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it (no offense to Candy Crush fanatics). What was I actually looking for? Many things. I was looking for ways to entertain myself, relax, avoid my responsibilities, and soothe myself.

The second thing I realized was that I had so much more time to think. When I wasn’t feeding myself hours of YouTube videos or pacifying myself in other ways, I had more time in silence. I had more time to appreciate the present moment. I had more time to observe my thoughts and ask myself questions. The reality is that I still had the same 24 hours in a day that I always had, but with this space to think, it felt as though time went by slower. As a result, I started to feel better. I felt more grounded, connected to my own thoughts and opinions, and connected to the present moment.

This doesn’t have to be about YouTube (and it isn’t, frankly). Some people like to scroll down Instagram for hours on end, some are gamers all day, and some are just constantly working or taking classes. All of us have our own obligations and relationships to maintain, as well as our favorite mediums to entertain ourselves. What this is about is the fact that a lot of the time, we don’t slow down and consciously give ourselves time to be with ourselves – and nothing else. Even when many of us are encouraged to stay indoors for a while, we fill the gaps of our day with some kind of stimulant. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work, connect with others, or consume our favorite media. I am saying that we could benefit from having some time each day reserved just for us. No videos, no games, no music, no conversations with others. Just you and only you. How does the idea of that make you feel?

To some people, that sounds like heaven. To others, it sounds a little scary and intimidating. Maybe to others, it just sounds kinda boring. I challenge you to try a few minutes in silence and notice your tendencies. Can you sit in silence for 10 minutes and not look at your phone? What do you think about while you’re sitting there? Does your mind immediately go to the tasks you have to do for the day, for example? Observe yourself. Without judging anything or going down the rabbit hole with one of your thoughts, notice what comes up for you.

When you give yourself time to think, you give yourself time to be. You give yourself time to come up with your own conclusions, work through challenging emotions, and appreciate the present. Perhaps what I’m recommending here is that we all commit to a few moments of mindfulness each day and see how that feels for us. After all, a big part of our wellness journeys involves checking in with ourselves. How can we work through limiting beliefs if we haven’t observed them yet? How can we notice how tired we are if we don’t take a second to acknowledge it?

Let’s give ourselves the gift of our own time and attention. Instead of question prompts this week, I would like to offer two challenges:

  • Spend 10 minutes of uninterrupted time today with yourself. Notice what comes up for you.
  • Take inventory of what takes up most of your attention and energy each day (e.g., working, watching the news, spending time with friends, social media, etc.)

I’ll check-in with you next week – have a well and beautiful rest of your Wednesday!

#17: Punting Perfection, and Weekly Favorites

Sunday is probably my favorite day of the week. It’s the best day for relaxation, reflection, and planning. When you think about it, it really is the bridge between last week and the next, which is why I try to make my Sundays as calm as possible. Sundays are the end and the beginning, simultaneously. That’s wild. But also very beautiful.

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At the beginning of last week I was slacking, not gonna lie. With the newfound time in my schedule, I made sure to take some time to relax, but I think I overdid it. I hung out, slept in super late, and as a result was wayyy behind on my schoolwork. It was a real wake up call for me because before I was always on the move, pretty drained, but always on top of my work and meetings. I guess I learned the energy management part I addressed in last week’s post because I wasn’t completely exhausted, but the time management part is what needs revamping. So I want to applaud past-Valencia for learning how to step back and relax. Yay! But now I’m working to make sure future-Valencia knows that downtime has a limit too and that although I have fewer tasks, those tasks can be given more time and attention so that I do them to the best of my ability!

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Punting Perfection

Another revelation that came out of this week is the fact that sometimes I get in my own way when it comes to the projects I want to do and the work I want to put out. In fact, the only time I procrastinate on something is when it’s suuuuper important to me – which is CRAZY. But I know why I do… it’s because I want it to be perfect. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve exponentially and to produce fantastic work even when I’m a novice at something. Which quite frankly, doesn’t make any sense.

For example, I had an assignment for my podcasting class due last week. But I was having some difficulty when it came to not getting all the recordings I needed with the equipment I rented and issues uploading my files. Basically, I knew it wasn’t going to come out the way I wanted it to. Which SUCKED to admit, but I had to once I realized I kept putting off reaching out for help and handing in what I could, for days. The other day I finally swallowed my pride after trying to work on this persistent problem I’ve been having with uploading my files and reached out to my professor for some help.

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Nothing has to be perfect, especially when you’re just starting out. If someone who has never lifted a weight in their life told me they’re going to lift 200 lbs on their first day at the gym I would look at them like they’re crazy. The same logic applies to everything else. You can’t think you’re going to come in and be this extraordinary expert when you’re still learning. And even when you’re an expert you’re still always learning!

In short, having that experience sobered me up to the fact that whenever I find myself procrastinating on something it’s an indication that:

1) I really care about the project or task,

2) I’m putting way too much pressure on myself to make it perfect, and that…

3) I need to cut myself some slack, enjoy the process, and be proud of whatever I end up creating at the end of the day. Doing my best is enough.

This past week wasn’t perfect, and that’s okay. Maybe its purpose was to give me a wakeup call. And for that, I’m very grateful.

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Wishing you relaxation, peace, and productivity this week.

Weekly Favorites

Youtube Channel: Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

App: ToDoist – a great to-do list app that’s free, but many of the unlimited features are for the premium subscription

#16: Energy Management and Weekly Favorites

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know what you’re thinking… it’s been a while. 

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I couldn’t even tell you what kept me occupied these past two weeks. The days seem to fly by so fast now that I don’t seem to remember what I did the day before if I don’t journal or write it down somewhere. But now I’m finding space and time to sit and write. I’m getting a lot better at managing my energy, carving out alone-time, and reducing stress.

My calendar (and my room) are less chaotic, and I’ve actually gotten to a point where I feel at peace. It almost feels… suspicious. You know what I mean? It feels like because I’m not stressing out that I’m not doing enough. Which is probably just a product of associating being stressed out and “busy” – a word I never like to use – with being productive. Which is NOT the case. At least not 24/7 bad stress.

I’m learning how to work smarter instead of harder and to be intentional about what I do and why I do it. Like I mentioned in my last post, there’s a cost to everything. Being intentional about how we spend our time and energy is super important.

 

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Me to me when I try to take on the world before lunch ^

 

If you’re a student, a leader, a Type-A, or anything of that sort, here’s some advice I can offer you that’s helped me find peace these past two weeks:

  1. Ask for help when you need it. Yes, you are fully capable of doing anything you put your mind to. But you are also more productive and at peace when you have the support from others that you need to get to the next level. Let others help you.
  2. If you can help it set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour every day, at the same time, for you to you decompress and relax. Put it in your Google Calendar. I’m serious. Make it as much of a priority as your schoolwork, work, or client meetings are. Use that time to listen to your needs.
  3.  Prioritize connection. Life is more than what you do. It’s the connections you make too. Be in flow with people that make you happy and feel most alive.
  4. Take slow, deep breaths.

I hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day if you celebrate it, and that you’re showing yourself and those you love lots of love this weekend!

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Weekly Favorites

Podcast: Oprah Winfrey, Part 1 (Oprah’s Master Class: The Podcast).

Youtube Video: Oprah’s Tearful Speech at Power of Women

Article: 7 Essential Tips For First Time Managers in 2019

InterviewCharlamagne Tha God – Combatting the Stigma Around Mental Health in “Shook One” | The Daily Show

Quote: “The grass is greener where you water it”