How do you restore?
Welcome to August, a month of holidays and first travel adventures for many of you. Time of well-deserved rest, especially this year. It also continues to be a busy time for some of you, especially if you cannot take time off at all. Last month I proposed the idea of active rest, so this time I would like to play with the other side of that coin: rest, reflection, restoration, smarter work and softer routine.
We talked a lot about active rest in July. However, I am noticing in my work that some of my clients do struggle with taking a day or week off and doing… nothing. How is that for you? How do you feel about the lack of routine, slowing down, doing less, skipping some tasks, accepting an empty calendar, sitting in silence? What is the role of digital technologies in the process?
It’s somewhat surprising how many of us tend to keep busy simply for the sake of it. We spend so much time talking about technology addiction, but let’s be honest: that’s an oversimplification. We need to identify specific unhelpful habits related to online activities. So today, I urge you to reflect on your relationship with busyness – especially in our attachment to work. We do most of our work online these days. Time offline is becoming a luxury. Yet, we still stigmatise online without accepting the complexities of our lives in the digital age. Switching off (aka offline) is not the point here.
In his recent documentary about trauma (still available for a small donation until the end of today), Dr Gabor Maté perfectly demonstrated the need to focus on the roots of the problem, not the addiction itself. The way our systems are currently designed does not lend itself to a healthy lifestyle whatsoever, so no wonder that we are compulsively holding on to unhealthy behaviours.
It is imperative to slow down and reflect on how we work, what work means to us and how many of our work-related attitudes are designed or conditioned by people who prioritise the unsustainable economy, systems and technology over human capital.
Often our unhealthy work habits and inability to rest can also stem from the fundamental misconception that keeping busy is productive and thus effective. However, the actual impact comes from doing things smarter, not for more extended periods of time. I do not even like the word “productive” – it makes me feel like a clog in a factory…Working longer hours but getting very few things done and building up a longer “to-do” list can cause stress. It has very little to do with the Internet, actually.
There is a massive difference between having a “to-do” list and a “got-done” list. Focussed work requires a rested body and mind, preparation, clear goals, but also healthy habits. It would help if you had healthy boundaries and soft, clear transitions from and to working space and time too.
Our concept of time is very complex too, so if you want to explore it, I recommend the “Ten Thoughts About Time”, which is finally available again in a new edition. This tiny book written by a Swedish physicist is perfect for reflection on using our time wisely.
This month, I am asking you to explore working smarter to allow time for doing less.
Saying that, at Voxel Hub, we are now aiming to blog more, so you will see more articles about digital wellbeing, mental health and technology tips in the upcoming weeks. We are growing our Advisory Board and working hard on improving the accessibility of our work to global audiences. Stay tuned for more!
I wish you a wonderful, intentionally restful August!
My favourite topic this month
This month I suggest a few ideas that support the immersive world of storytelling. Stories can be very powerful in therapy and in coaching. We can also use some of them for personal entertainment and softer inspiration. Here are my favourites:
“Honeycomb” by Joanne Harris – a wonderful collection of fairy tales embedded in the world of Mother Nature wisely addressing many contemporary challenges
“Gris” is a fantastic game with beautiful design and powerful mental health metaphors
“Sky: The Children of the Light” game is beautiful, and it takes us on a magical adventure
“Zenimation” – a beautiful series of Disney Plus stories collected in mindful themes
“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” – Netflix movie with multiple endings, an exciting exploration of hobbies, work and video games
“Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing”)” – switch your lights off, press play and listen to the stories of woodland in this Amazon Prime movie, taking us for a walk amongst the trees (perfect moment of relaxation at the end of the working day)
I hope you will find those ideas interesting. If you have a recommendation on this topic, please do let me know!
One of the most challenging experiences in coaching and counselling can be… silence. It can be beneficial to prepare for silent moments in relational work by exploring what silence means to us. There is no better time for this than the quiet August:
How is silence for you? How do you feel about sitting in light or heavy, very loaded silence?
(In a specific situation) How is this silence for you right now? What is the quality of it? How do you feel about sitting in it?
How do you feel about sitting in a silent room with a loud clock ticking away on the wall?
How do you manage to silence your mind during meditation and, equally, ruing stressful moments?
What were silent experiences that you have found meaningful on your life journey?
How do you feel about asking your clients directly: how is a particular moment of silence for them (with you in the room)?
I hope the above prompts for reflection are helpful, but please let me know what helps you connect with silent moments in life.
Thank you for reading our news. Talk to us online, check out our blog and let us know what else you would like to see here in the upcoming months.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay connected.
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