Don’t Forget Time to Recharge Your Energy

Don’t Forget Time to Recharge Your Energy

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten halfway through a sandwich, bowl of soup or cup of coffee before I realized I’ve barely tasted it. I always slow down and try to savor those last few bites or sips. But it’s too late. I’ve already missed enjoying the full experience.

We live in a high-speed world, always rushing toward the next thing. Our minds are never in the moment, always worried about the next meeting, the next big project, all the phone calls and emails we have to make. We zip from place to place, trying to get the maximum amount of efficiency or productivity out of a day. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do more than we did last week. Being constantly busy even seems like a badge of honor.

There have to be a million posts about the pressures we put on ourselves to perform in today’s society. This isn’t one of them. I’d rather focus on the opposite aspect of life. The little joys we can find in every day activities if we go looking for them. The bright splash of flowers in your springtime commute. The relaxing patter of rain on the window during an afternoon storm. The smell of fresh coffee when you brew your first cup.

Not everything has to be about the next task. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

About four years ago I discovered the Tea Meditation. This quick little article talks about combining meditation with your first cup of coffee or tea in the morning (there’s an expanded version here). It has stayed with me. As I’ve struggled to find the best schedule for my writing, I keep coming back to this idea. Taking time to stop, to let the world move without me, to turn my thoughts inward and simply be in that moment.

Two years ago I started doing Yoga. The idea was to get some activity in my day, because I spend most of it sitting at a computer. But there was another reason. In the hectic rush of stress, I stopped sleeping. My appetite suffered. I was miserable all day, every day, destroying myself over how much time I lost to feeling icky and groggy. I needed tools to relieve the stress and move on. Yoga gave me both. Because yoga isn’t just about the exercises, it’s about being in the moment, being mindful of your body as you move. One of my favorite youtube yoga instructors often reminds us in her videos to let go of to-do lists and let go of what happened earlier today.

Yoga gives me twenty minutes every afternoon to put aside life’s demands and simply enjoy the day. It gets me away from the computer. It gets me away from the bills, my manuscript, dinner plans, and lets me focus on myself and how I feel. Often at the end of my yoga practice I feel refreshed, even if I’ve been feeling icky for most of the day.

This year, I decided to take it one step further. It’s great to put aside time for myself, but I don’t want to get lost in stress the rest of the time. I came back the idea of tea meditation, the idea of grounding myself in a simple act, something I do every day. Now every morning when I sip my coffee, I make sure I take time to savor the taste. Even if it’s only an extra minute or two, I take that time to disconnect myself from the day’s pressures and enjoy the taste and heat of my coffee. I do the same every afternoon when I make myself a cup of tea. Sometimes I even take a few minutes to decide which tea I want for the day, to have that extra little moment of anticipation for a special thing. If the stress is mounting I look to my mug, take a deep breath, sweep it all aside and get lost in the taste of whatever I’m drinking.

It’s amazing how big a difference that step back can make, even if it only lasts a few seconds. One way or another, I’m going to get my work done (even if it takes longer than anticipated). There’s no reason to rush and add another level of stress to my daily activities. Taking a few moments to enjoy the day leaves me refreshed. I get more done. And while I’m just as tired at the end of the day, I feel a lot more satisfied. Looking back over all those little joys gets me excited for the next day, even if I know I have a lot to do. We talk about life being all about the journey and enjoying that journey. That means enjoying the little day-to-day things too. So allow yourself a moment to recharge, whenever you happen to need it.

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