Sometimes, all you need is to hit reset. Not just a small break. A reset. Stop the clock and stop engaging. Keeping the minimum at the surface and let the engine run on automatic for a bit. Even going as far as switching off the engines and drifting for a bit. Is it a human need? Or is it a product of how we live today? Was resetting as necessary 50 years ago as it is today? I don’t know the answer there, but I do know that resetting gets harder by the years. I see some sort of turning point though. Finally, I see more of its benefits than of its costs.
There is never enough time
That is the usual answer. I have no time to reset. And I have no time to rest. Nor do I have the time (or money) to go on holiday. I don’t even have time to plan a holiday. With time being our greatest asset we always seem to be running out of it.
As of the last few years, I replaced the sentence “I don’t have time” with the more honest “it is not a priority“. That has truly forced me to stop moaning about all the little things I claimed I did not have time for. And to really make some important things that always got left behind a priority. That is when I started owning time. Do I control it? No, I am far from it. Not only we all have the same time allocation every day we wake up, but we are also given different limitations on how we use it. And the unexpected also happens. But not control it does not mean I don’t own it. Today, I see time as an asset I actively own and manage and I am very intentional about it.
I digress. We don’t have time to reset. Or shall I say we don’t make it a priority to do so? It is hard to make that choice for many of us. A weekend away from the kids – guilty parents. A week away from work – guilty workers. The list goes on. But as studies show, resetting is key to productivity, sanity and happiness.
Resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endureHBR
What does it mean to reset?
You don’t have to go awol, middle of the jungle no internet connection and living in the wild. Whilst that may indeed give you a chance to reset, there are easier ways to do so. At times, we may just need a small reboot – a few hours – others we may need an actual physical trip outside our location, in the extreme, we may need to quit our lives and go somewhere new. I wonder if that is a reset or a reboot!
I struggle to reset like everyone else. I even struggle to take a simple break! Maybe more given the usual ways in how I usually ‘relax’ – blogging, podcasting, doing charity. So resetting for me needs to be intentional, but not too limiting. Here is what I think is important:
Resetting is easily done away. Can be an away in a spa, away for a long run, away for a dinner with friends, away for a weekend by the beach, away for a week in another city or country. Yes, all of the above is likely the best reset, but it is not always available. So, I stick to the physicality of removing yourself from the usual place so you can feel like you have been away. I have tried many times to reset at home, but I have to be honest, it generally only works if I am ill and bed-bound. All other circumstances mean I will be engaging, doing, planning, something.
This is not the same as being physically away, you may wonder. This is taking your mind with you. Yes, you can be away for a weekend with friends and still be thinking about what you left behind, what you need to do, what you will do next.
I am not suggesting you stop thinking as that sounds close to impossible. But perhaps for a moment, you can think of all that but not try to solve it. Just be with it, but be absent of the need to try and solve all your problems (and the problems of the world) in a single afternoon. Be absent of responsibilities, which may mean you remember things you need to do (happens to me usually when I sit down on a sofa), but you don’t act on them. Have your journal, phone reminders or whatever form of to-do list you use handy and note it, but don’t go do it just yet. Be absent from doing as much as you can.
No, I am not joking, I know I just said be absent. But that was about what is not there. Be present is about what surrounds you. The cinema, the dinner, the beach, the sand, the hills. Be there. Find things in it you want to remember.
Take pictures if you want. But worry less about posting them on social media. If that is important, reserve a time to do it, but don’t let that affect your being. Call someone if you have to, but chose someone you have not spoken to in a long time, someone that can be a reset, not the everyday person that you can call later. It is tempting to spend our times on the phone, as that is a way to be seemingly relaxed. But it makes us absent. And for us to reset, we have to be. Be present. Be real.
Be with yourself
Oh, that is a tough one. Many would prefer to reset with and through others. Being with yourself can lead to many philosophical questions or challenging debates. I am not saying you engage in that, though that could be part of your reset schedule. But spending the entire time debating about your life choices may not give you the reset you need.
I do always try and have a few life orientated conversations or reflections when I am away. However, these days, I don’t dwell on it for long. If important to do it, maybe I jot down a few notes about it, so it is off my system and I can move on with it.
All of the above are the conceptual tips I would have around the mindset of resetting. But, as expected, I have some practical tips too! Because the above ‘being’ is hard to implement, here are things that can help. They may be geared to a reset of at least a weekend but most will apply.
Have a schedule
CRAZY! Don’t we spend our lives on a schedule, and resetting means absolute freedom? Yes and No. When you go out for a weekend and plan nothing (or even if you stay home for a weekend), you may get decent sofa time, but all in all, you may just do what you always do, pick up your phone and browse, watch the odd tv, go to a walk to the same park as you always do. It will be hard to feel like a reset has happened. If you plan your getaway (or stay away), you are likely to get more “bang for your buck”. You may not need to plan every detail, but some small ones will do.
When we went for our small anniversary celebration last week, we scheduled a picnic, a massage, a wine tasting. All spaced out and with no rush, but something that allowed us to move through the day doing something different. We also had to choose indoor pool time and breakfast time (courtesy of covid), and that helped us sleep late but not too late, be roaming around but with some sense of direction. It also made our 48 hours feel like holidays rather than a short weekend.
Take care of your body
I am not speaking philosophically here. Resetting needs sleep, rest and food. Staying up late watching Netflix may serve a portion of your brain erasing, but it will do little to deliver one of the most rejuvenating medicines we have – sleep. I have underestimated sleep for the majority of my adult life, but no more. Over the last 18 months, I steadily increased my sleep average from under 6 to a more steady 7 hours and still on the rise. And when I am resetting, sleep is key.
Food is also a key element of taking care of your body. Regular good meals I mean. Junk sofa food may feel great at the time, but it won’t last long. If you think I am speaking vegan or cleansing it is not my thing either. Unless you feel like that is part of what you need resetting. A good meal will generally include meat, bread, french fries and ideally seafood. For me, these meals are part of a ritual to care for body and soul. And if you take a nap after lunch, then you really are nailing it.
Take care of your mind
Again, I am talking practical here. Do you wish you could read more? Bring a book along. Do you wish you could just browse mindless magazines? Roam through a stock. Do you wish you could do mindful painting? Yoga? Meditation? Incorporate that in. Maybe not all at once!
Last weekend I was happy to start a new book and read through an entire Saturday magazine. For me, journaling is also important, so I did that too. But not all in one day. It is a great exercise to read, wonder, chat. And wonder, journal, daydream. It’s all part of freeing your mind from the fixed boxes where we often spend our time.
The outcome – reset to restart
Sometimes you may wonder – well, what did you change when you did your reset?
I am not in it for the change. In fact, I am mostly in it so I can keep going, mostly using these small resets as moments for some grounding, some course correction, some celebration of small things. I can’t often reset when I am overwhelmed, I admit, but I am learning. I could always say I have no time to stop. Or that my brain never stops. But I still do.
Worst case – an article comes out when my brain stops roaming and starts making associations. It is how I process. And then I move to the next thing, even if it is similar to the last.
But it will be more unique, and no doubt re-energised.