Not that I’m saying people who work for other people don’t get it, but because we as self-employed work-from-home types often do things we shouldn’t do (overworking, skipping breaks, working too late, skipping exercise – I know, naughty Matt!), brain frazzle is a very real problem.
Call it what you like: brain frazzle, brain meltdown, brain going on strike, hitting the wall… endless names you can call that moment where your brain simply refuses to function. You read some text but the words do not go in. You may as well be spooning Alphabeti Spaghetti directly into your cranium and shaking it up a bit for all the sense that would make and all the good it would do.
But sometimes you can’t take the rest of the day off; you have a deadline and time off is simply out of the question. You need a break for certain, and a couple of hours at least. Here’s what you might do.
I run and though my discipline and times have slipped this year, I still go out a couple of times a week and put in 5K. It allows me to take my mind off of work, to focus on something else, to get some fresh air and relax for a bit. Plus, that shower at the end can be invigorating. Go to the gym, go swimming, for a long walk, take the dogs out – it doesn’t matter just so long as you get some exercise.
It may sound strange to take a break from writing by doing some writing, but this blog is as much an outlet of pleasure and a way of winding down as it is for promoting my books and professional services. Here, I am writing about subjects I love. Very little research is required. No endless searching Google for snippets of information. Writing for clients is more like academic writing whereas this is leisure writing.
Go Somewhere Calm
Slightly related to exercise, but the point here is not to exercise but to disconnect from the fast pace. I live in an urban environment with parks, some of which are nice and calming. I find I can relax more when I am at my girlfriend’s place (she lives in Cornwall) and never more than about 20 minutes walk from the docks or the beach. When I move down next year, I am looking forward to my runs along the coast path. It truly is a gorgeous place to live.
The point is to go somewhere you can disconnect from your working environment. If you can combine it with the next item on this list, even better.
Mindfulness exercises are a great non-clinical way to treat low level mental illness such as stress and anxiety.That’s not to say that those who don’t suffer from stress and anxiety can get no benefit from them; on the contrary, you probably practice mindfulness all the time – you just don’t call it that. Sitting in a beer garden soaking up the sun and enjoying a nice cold pint of cider, savouring every sip? Sitting on a beach listening to the waves? Enjoy listening to the rain pitter-patter against the window? What about hearing children laughing and playing? Listening to a calming piece of music and letting it swallow you up? If you take pleasure in sensory experiences like this and they have a calming effect on you, you’re practising mindfulness. When we work from home, it’s easy to get caught up in work mode. It’s difficult to wind down. Mindfulness, now matter how simple, can help us disconnect from our work selves.
After an hour or more of this, you’ll find yourself ready to get stuck in again.