Creating Resilient Cultures   in Healthcare

Unplug to Engage

Gem LakeLast week was busy—too busy. I created a very tight schedule with book signings, speaking, preparing for a month of travel, writing deadlines and hosting a party, all in addition to my normal yoga and coaching clients. I left no room for error and no time to catch my breath and transition from one activity to the next.

It wasn’t until I got off the phone with my Mother, after listening to her ongoing challenges of adjusting to the nursing home and I burst into tears that I realized I had overbooked myself—right into overwhelm. Even though I love what I do, I was not engaged and excited about my week. All I could think about was, How am I going to get through this?

An overscheduled life does not allow me to be engaged in my life. I’m not fully present when I am going through the motions of overwhelm, anxiety, and exhaustion wondering, How am I going to get through this?

One way we can engage, connect, and live intentionally is to slow down and do less, by unplugging. Rather than thinking about how can you squeeze one more thing into your already tight schedule, what if you thought about what you could get rid of, to allow you to unplug?

Back to my week. The next morning, still in the mountains after a program, I awoke to a crisp blue sky and with golden aspen leaves shimmering in a light breeze. I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if I could hike this morning, even for a short time, before I have to leave?

Instead of writing, returning phone calls, and rehearsing my program as I planned, I did something I knew would treat my exhaustion and overwhelm: I unplugged and took a beautiful two-hour hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. I returned feeling refreshed and engaged, ready for my next meeting.

Engagement is not about doing more, it’s about experiencing more, which often requires us to do less. Besides hiking in the mountains (my personal favorite) there are many ways to unplug: take a walk or a bike ride, practice deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, or visit an art gallery, garden or whatever fills you up. How could you unplug today, just for a little while to engage more in your life?

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