Relax

Take a deep breath. Everything will be ok.

Why do we say this? Nothing about our lives and our world seems to suggest that relaxation is worthwhile. If it were important wouldn’t we focus more on being relaxed?

Feeling some form of relaxation is important and we should be conscious of tension. I was reminded of this while watching a 60 minutes spot on free-diving. What is free-diving?

Free-diving is a form of underwater diving that relies on a diver’s ability to hold his or her breath until resurfacing rather than on the use of a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear.

60 Minutes shows a couple of free divers that are attempting new world records. In one case, William Trubridge is attempting to dive 400ft. He has to hold his breath for over four minutes! (and I thought I was a bad A when I held my breath longer than another dad at the beach – we made it a minute!).

Source: thexodirectory.com

My mind was clearly blown by watching someone hold their breath for four minutes and dive almost 400 feet below the surface. I was most inspired by what William does before he dives.

He relaxes.

As he sits in the water, about to risk his life for sport, the most important thing to him is to stay relaxed. If any tension creeps in it will reduce the air capacity in his lungs and jeopardize his dive.

How tense do you feel? Right now as you read this post?

Left to my own devices, I tend to operate out of tension and stress rather than confidence and relaxation. But I recognize that I am at my best when relaxed.

So why do we – why do I – become stressed and overburdened? And how do we learn to relax?

A large factor of stress is perspective. What is it you value?

Do you value a particular project that you are working on? Or do you value the chance to stretch yourself? Do you value the destination? Is it all about where you must go? Or is it about the journey?

It’s clear that Truebridge spends many hours trying to de-stress and stay relaxed. If it’s important to you, why not spend some time thinking about what it is you truly value.

How to relax?

I’m no expert, but I have found that having fun at work to be an excellent relaxation technique. If you can’t laugh at some point during the day or do something completely pointless with your team, then it’s easy to stay tense.

As I mentioned in a previous post (Fun at Work), we took this picture because it would be fun. I routinely try and do these sort of things to keep my team and myself relaxed.

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As I have observed workplaces where empathy, creativity and empathy abound, I have noticed a common theme. Everyone seems to having a great time. Workers are free to be playful and inspired and all parties benefit. The customers get great products/services. The employees have fulfilling work in a great environment. The company is more profitable because it’s customers and employees are happy.

Do something fun at work today. And take a deep breath.

Always improving

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As I was reading to my daughters last night, I thought about two things I do while reading to them that relate to this idea of improving:

  1. When I read I try to work on voice inflection – not being monotone, using different voices – in general, I try to get into the story as much as possible
  2. I try to read long passages at a time without looking at the page. Read a sentence quickly to myself, look up, and then say the sentence out loud. I’m not sure when this will come in handy (apart from having to deliver a pre-written speech in front of a large audience) but it’s something I practice anyway

So after typing these out, I realize this may sound very strange, but my kids love #1 and they don’t even realize that I am playing a memory game (I had typed out “they don’t even realize that I am doing #2” but I decided that sounded ridiculous!). I read to my kids every night, so every night is an opportunity to use the time I have to also work on my ability to speak in public.

What is something you do every day that could also help you improve on a skill you need for your job? Do you have an opportunity to take on a leadership role at a non-profit that you are involved in? I had a co-worker who viewed volunteering to read scripture in church as a way to improve her confidence to speak in public. Is “always improving” a reason on it’s own to volunteer? Of course not. I read to my kids because I love spending the time with them…it’s one of the highlights of my day. That said, I’m always looking for ways to improve.