Is your head hurting right now?
While we’re at it, how’s your blood pressure? What about your weight? Are you sleeping well? Do the kids seem increasingly needy? Are you at odds with your spouse? And have your co-workers become less and less collaborative?
Something is going on here. But what’s causing it?
Maybe it’s your unforgiving To Do list. Perhaps it’s the unrelenting deadlines, expectations, and obligations at work and home – and the guilt, anger, and frustration of trying to meet them all. Or could it be the torrent of blogs, websites, social media, newsfeeds, texts, tweets, Instagram, home video streaming, and emails you access compulsively?
You know what? You need some white space, and soon.
Think of white space as your personal “reboot,” emotionally, cognitively, and physically — a refresh that you conduct daily that allows you to make more room for the things you want to do and need to do.
The benefits of these mini-reboots are huge. White space can help you increase your energy, sharpen your focus, decrease your stress, manage your emotions, strengthen your relationships, and allow you to be more productive. It may even prolong your life.
As you think about white space, don’t confuse it with “me time,” which is often about hobbies, activities, entertainment, people, and food. We crave most of these things in our lives; however, they can also be distractions from what you may really need: true down time.
In other words, white space is not about doing; it’s about being. Being means you turn away from your laptop, Smartphone, internet, and TV. Instead, you find a quiet place where you connect with you.
Is this sounding a little too mystical? Let’s get practical, then. Think of white space as your customized hyperbolic chamber, one that you create yourself. In this chamber, you slow down or even stop. You allow your body and mind to regain their natural rhythms. You gear down. Way down.
But how? Let’s borrow a few techniques from yoga: Find a quiet place at least once each day that is stimulus-free and one where you won’t be disturbed. That space could be your car, a quiet hallway at work, or a local running track (but not a busy street where you will be distracted by traffic, noise, and people).
Once you find the quiet place, follow these steps: Begin by focusing on breathing deeply and slowly. After a minute or two, focus on relaxing every part of your body, naming each part as you focus on it. “Feet, relax. Legs, relax. Core (torso), relax. Chest and shoulders, relax.” As you continue to focus on your breathing, clear your mind. Let thoughts – both positive and negative – go. In fact, imagine them floating away from you and disappearing. Again, focus on breathing and being present.
You can do all this in 5-10 minutes, and you can repeat it throughout the day, as necessary. You’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Try it!