Getting OFF Autopilot
Most people are in a rush, a constant rush to get to the next task, next e-mail, errand or list of things to do. Speeding through the day will leave you feeling spent, overwhelmed and at times wondering if you were productive enough. You are thinking about the next sentence, the next challenge, the next weekend, but not really focused on the here and now. I call this Autopilot. You're constantly on the go, pushing through the week, but you're not present and you're not experiencing the fullness of life's spontaneous and meaningful moments. You can sit at lunch and eat your meal without fully enjoying the taste of your food. You meet your new co-worker without noticing how interesting they are. You can hear your spouse complain, but not connect with their pain because you're too busy thinking about how to fix it.
I'd like to invite you to the present, a time when all your senses are immersed in a single experience, and you escape from worry about the future or the past. For most, this seems impossible. Anxiety, tension and thoughts interrupt your present. If you really want to get off autopilot, you must be aware that autopilot is your norm, and it's no good. So be aware and take a serious inventory because your days will pass you by. Before you know it your friends, children and spouse can become distant. Anxiety and stress propel us to move forward with so much speed we can pass everyone by, leaving us feeling lonely and empty. Getting off autopilot is a daily and conscious effort that will transform your life.
1- Pay attention to your body. Get comfortable with yourself, accommodate your body. Are you sitting correctly, if not move. Are you hungry or do you need to go to the restroom, do it. Pay attention to what your body needs and stop neglecting your body. Do you need to see a doctor, pick up the phone. Are you in need of a stretch because you have muscle tension, stop and stretch. Stop and breath. You might notice you may hold your breath at times. People who function on autopilot tend to be disconnected from the needs of their bodies and this comes at a high cost.
2- Learn to slow down. You might find yourself rushing in the grocery aisles, or interrupting others during your conversations, or cutting your work out short because you need to be somewhere else. You might find the week to be a total blur because you are rushing to the next task. Slowing down means you do one thing at a time. You are aware of that tendency to speed throughout your tasks, and resist the urge. Slowing down can also help you to connect more with others. Take an interest in your friends and family, increasing patience and learning to truly listen to them. It is no wonder that more and more Americans complain about loneliness. Most are too busy to connect and feel supported by friends and family.
3-Take one day during the week to rest and do nothing. Doing nothing means no e-mails, no calls, no errands and no mental prep-work. Your body is your temple and you need to rest. Decreasing stress will help prevent disease. Anxiety and stress are related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraine headache, chronic respiratory disorders and heart disease. Understanding that rest and relaxation are a form of preventative treatment will help you guard your time for rest. This may seem impossible for parents, however many parents find a way. Even if you can have half a day of just relaxation or play time, this is better than nothing. Your body and your family will thank you for it.