WASHINGTON, September 6, 2013 – Labor Day 2013 has come and gone, and now it’s official “back to school” time. But reflect upon this: “Back to school” time for adults really means “back to full time work.”
Although the majority of us continue to work through the summer, things do feel like they slow down a bit. People seem a bit more relaxed from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Lots of us are take vacations. The days are longer and we are outside later and more often.
Although many schools now begin before Labor Day and sometimes cut into family vacation time, people’s mindsets begin to shift into a responsibility mode after Labor Day weekend.
In counseling individuals, and working within businesses and government, it’s easy to notice that people kick it up a few notches after Labor Day. Growing up, I remember that the Memorial Day through Labor Day period was more of a chill time for nearly everyone. There was even an unspoken dress code about wearing white. After Memorial Day, women could wear white shoes and carry a white bag and men, white shoes and a white belt, as long as these were not worn after Labor Day.
But in the end, it’s all a mindset. So what is yours? Do you prepare mentally for post Labor Day? Are you revved up and ready to get going to make this a productive third quarter?
A few weeks back our family did take two long weekends in a row to relax and recharge. It was wonderful, and helped keep the balance going in my life.
By analogy, we are not all machines that can run flat out, 24/7. Even machines don’t run all the time. In addition, people, like machines, need periodic maintenance check-ups to make sure everything is running well.
In this writer’s case, such check-ups, aka vacations are needed. Before embarking on my most recent break, I sat down at my desk and wrote myself a short list of upcoming tasks to make things easier upon returning. But reading over that list at the end of vacation, a feeling of being stuck began to overwhelm me.
In spite of that to-do list and other helpful lists of phone calls to return, emails to be read and sent, reports to be written, family responsibilities to take care of and so on, there was heavy feeling in my stomach and my shoulders felt weighed down.
When you’re in an overwhelm mindset, your thinking can be blocked. It’s hard to focus and be clear. Creativity stops, energy stops flowing and is depleted, and your productivity declines.
How, exactly, does one get unstuck from this kind of post-holiday, post-Labor Day funk?
Relaxation techniques can help for starters. Often, spending a few minutes doing simple breathing exercises will prove surprisingly useful. In this case, three times in a row I took a deep breath and held it for 8 seconds, and released it.
This simple technique helped to physiologically ground me. That kicked-in-the-stomach feeling and heaviness in the shoulders began to dissipate. Motivation returned, inspiring me to get busy and get back into action. In turn, the positive momentum naturally propelled me to keep moving forward to reconnect with people both personally and professionally, and set up dates for us to get together.
Once you get rolling everything becomes easier. You start to feel lighter and much more productive.
In this case, I was back on my path without having even taken a single step. That initial “stuck” feeling stuck was rolled back simply by beginning with some deep breathing exercises. My blocked thinking began to shift. Clarity had begun to return, and I hadn’t even left my desk, enabling me to handle that first day back with ease and calm.
Here are my recommendations for you as we enter the third quarter of the year.
First, check in with yourself:
- What are you thinking?
- What are you noticing about yourself?
- Is your breathing shallower than usual?
- Do you have a thousand things floating around in your head that can give you a whopper of a headache?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
- Are you feeling time pressured?
Next take some deep breaths. Use the brief, easy breathing exercise outlined above. Breathing exercises like this one release toxins from your body. It might sound trite, but breathing is so very important.
Finally, don’t let your inner chatter or self-talk stop you from moving forward. That inner chatter or self talk never stops. So make a resolution right now. Don’t let it stop you!
Hear the chatter, acknowledge it to yourself, recalibrate and get into action. You must know and understand that negative chatter can be turned around. As soon as you are aware of that negative chatter, take an action step like the simple exercise above, and you will begin to move forward.
Now go out there and get into action!
For more information contact:
Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Certified Business, Life & Leadership Coach
Expertise in Life and Career Transition, Business/Leadership, Confidence/Resilience Strategist
WUSA-TV 9 Community Content Producer
Phone contact: 301-706-7226 & 703-547-0039
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