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Lessons Learned From a Sunset

It's easy to let the days get away...deadlines, e-mails, phone calls, and other tasks take over, often finding their way into our other everyday moments. Basic necessities like eating and sleeping take a backseat to work, and sometimes we forget how important it is to stop and appreciate the little things around us.

And that's just on a normal day.

Whatever "normal" is to you, there's a good chance it looks pretty different right now. COVID-19 has changed things for most of us. Whether you're simply taking extra precautions to avoid getting sick, or you've had major changes to your employment and/or home situation, you've likely felt the effects, and the current state of unknowns is raising stress and anxiety levels all over.

I openly admit, I didn't think I was affected. Without the stress of homeschooling children, and work I can do from anywhere, I've been going about my days feeling like I haven't skipped a beat! Yet despite spending less time sitting in traffic and more time doing the things I believe to be productive, I've been feeling exhausted. So what gives?

I mean, the only thing I've really been doing differently is keeping the news on in the background, instead of my usual favorite Spotify playlist...

Wait a minute. Could that small change be making such a big difference in how I feel? Absolutely. But I probably wouldn't have figured it out, at least not so soon, if I hadn't done one little thing - take a quick break.

At the same time the world feels like its falling apart due to this scary global pandemic, beautiful things are still this sunset in my very own backyard. If I hadn't turned off the news and stepped outside for a few minutes, I might have missed it.

As the wise Ferris Bueller said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Photo Credit: Brooke Dawson

Location: Palmetto, Florida

We always say inspiration is everywhere, and just like many intangible things in life, you usually find it when you least expect it -- and it's often right under your nose. What do you do when you hit that proverbial wall in some aspect of what you're doing? How do you find the motivation to push through, to break down that wall, and to reach your goals?

Take a break.

I can hear you now. "How in the world can I take a break when I'm up against a deadline I already don't think I'll ever meet? I need MORE TIME!" Of course, when you're working furiously on a project, trying to meet a deadline, the LAST thing you think about is taking a step away. Or maybe it's the first thing you think about wanting to do, but you just don't think you can.

Well you can...and you should. While it's easy to convince yourself that you do not have the time, research has proven taking breaks can boost your performance! Among many health benefits such as reducing stress and promoting a more positive mindset, stepping away from your work can reset your focus. You may have lost sight of the big picture while getting lost in the details -- a simple reset might be all you need.

You don't need to take a break that lasts hours. If time is not on your side, even 5 minutes away will reap huge benefits to your productivity. Step outside and allow yourself to focus on your surroundings -- no matter what your view may be, look around, and find something to focus on. Whether it's the entire sky in a tranquil setting, or the hustle and bustle of people and cars passing by on a busy street, pick something, and watch it with intention.

Afraid you'll get lost and 5 minutes will turn into an hour? While that may not be a bad thing -- and could be a sign that's what your mind and body need -- if you're concerned about losing time, set an alarm on your phone or watch. Even if it's only 5 minutes, allow yourself the gift of time to reset. Especially in a time when stress levels are higher than normal due to circumstances out of our control, prioritizing self-care will help you be better at everything you do.

When you get back to your task, you'll likely be surprised at how beneficial that break really was. It may even inspire you to take breaks more often! It may also help you see the large impact small things can make, and how a tiny change in your routine can lead to greater productivity and creativity, and less burnout.

I want to watch the news. I want to know what's going on in this crazy world we live in. But I also want to maintain my sanity, feel healthy, and do my best work. Stepping outside for just a few minutes, I not only experienced a beautiful sunset -- I gained some insight into how I work; more specifically, how what's in the background affects my energy levels and productivity.

I will still watch the news and keep up with how this pandemic is affecting our world and the people we love. I'll just watch it in shorter increments and at set times. When I want to be productive and creative, I'll listen to music. And maybe...just maybe...I'll watch more sunsets.

What helps you when you feel stuck? What are the signs you're on the verge of burnout and need a break? We'd love to hear from you!


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