Does vacation ever feel like more work — where you need a vacation from the vacation?
Many of my clients share how what vacation provides is more about the experience vacation represents: being relaxed, peaceful and free of pending deadlines, mounting pressures, expectations or responsibilities.
In other words, time freedom: the ability to do whatever you feel like doing, whenever you want, with no consequences.
Here are three time-tested ways you can create time freedom every day.
1. Create a morning ritual.
What’s the one thing that nourishes your soul each day?
Consider that the first half hour when you wake up is the most critical time to train your brain toward nourishing habits in that half-conscious state where your brain is transitioning from theta to alpha waves.
Pick a moving meditation or mindful exercise that will purify all the stress, toxins and tension from the inside out. Start with just a seven-day challenge to do that one thing each day, track your progress and write down what you notice and observe in your body as a result.
Avoid picking something you want to fix about yourself or that you "should" do.
If you find value at the end of seven days, I recommend continuing your journey to 14 or 21 days, whichever is more motivating. If you found no difference after seven days, pick another one thing that nourishes your soul each morning.
After 21 days, you can take a break and pick one new thing that nourishes your soul — or continue to 49 days, then up to 100 days.
Know that if you skip a day, you start over. No judgment, no attachment. Just start over. You must do it consecutively to truly experience the change and be able to effectively evaluate whether or not to continue at the end of your challenge period.
Doing so will allow you to stop reacting to your head chatter, judgments, doubts and other emotions. Instead, you'll cultivate experiencing calm during the chaos of the unknown and unpredictable.
2. Create a midday ritual.
Lunchtime is a very easy, natural time for us to take a break to nourish ourselves. If possible, try to go outside in nature to experience being part of the greater whole.
Being outside lets us connect with ourselves on a deeper level, allowing us to remember experientially that our problems are small compared to what the entire cosmos is up to.
Here’s what I recommend as a guideline to create your most effective lunchtime ritual, one that will make a world of difference, even if your ritual is just 10 minutes long:
• If possible, leave your phone at your desk so you won’t get interrupted by incoming calls or notifications.
• Experience gratitude looking at your food. Reflect how the sun helped grow the plants, which then grew from the earth, which then got harvested from humans and packaged, shipped and delivered to your local grocery store so you could conveniently eat this meal right now in a short period of time.
• Chew slowly (ideally 30 times), and mindfully pay attention to your five senses.
• Enjoy breathing and being alive.
• In short, do nothing. Just be.
I’m continuously surprised by how 10 minutes of rejuvenation allows me to have relaxed concentration and experience time freedom for the rest of my day.
3. Create a bedtime ritual.
Pick at least one thing you can do every night that has you going to bed with a smile or connected to your heart, or that can create a really good dream. Like the first 30 minutes of your day, the last 30 minutes are equally as crucial to programming your subconscious mind.
This is your time to design your life intentionally rather than by default, watching the news, answering emails or getting work done. It’s no surprise business owners can’t shut their brains off right before bed or first thing in the morning. You are the one training your brain that way. Give yourself time to transition again from the beta wave state of your brain to lower levels to ensure your body can rest deeply and reset for the next day.
Here are some ideas for bedtime rituals:
• As a family, share “acknowledgments” for each other and yourselves. Have each family member take a turn. This practice does wonders for feeling connected and managing emotions. Be sure to also include in your acknowledgment ways of being. For example: “Son, I acknowledge you for being joyful and light, especially in the way you helped your friend stay positive at camp today.”
• Read a soul-nourishing book.
• Toe tap. This acts like an energy shower to cleanse your emotions and thoughts from the day. Simply lay on your back in bed and tap your toes together, with your pinky toes tapping the bed 100 to 500 times while taking deep breaths in and out like a balloon. Doing so allows you to shift all the hot energy accumulated in your brain down to your feet and legs from the oxygen flow and blood circulation — allowing your brain to drift into a more relaxed state.
Creating a simple, rejuvenating ritual each morning, midday and night creates microcosms of time freedom, relaxation and peace. Ten mindful minutes three times a day will go far and have lasting effects on the quality of your day-to-day life.
The key to growing your business starts with investing in your mind, body and spirit first. Intentionally creating the vacation experience of time freedom allows you to be in flow for your day, balancing your ego-based “I am my accomplishments” self with the self that simply is perfect the way it is.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com
Anna Sun Choi