Hot off the Campus Calm Press: An hour of play keeps the doctor away

Well, I have a confession to make again this week. I’m back into the full swing of Campus Calm since taking a break to move into my first house. I’m preparing for upcoming college campus speaking presentations, marking updates for the 2009-2010 edition of my book, networking on Twitter and Facebook, responding to emails and the million other things I do to run a business. Last week, I was beginning to suffer some major burnout. So much so that I had trouble sleeping because my mind was reeling from all I had to do. Do you ever lay awake at night thinking about everything, and worrying about things that seem trivial, even ridiculous, by daybreak? Do we really need to wonder at 2 a.m. if we have enough cherries left to go with our breakfast the next morning? Or maybe that’s just me…

Campus Calm is the greatest thing I’ve ever created because it serves as my mirror. You see, the one thing I never want to be called is a hypocrite, so I can’t preach stress management if I can’t heed my own advice. After one sleepless night due to stress, I listened to what my body was telling me and responded to its cues before any serious repercussions could plant their ugly seeds.

Here’s my rX for stress overload that won’t cost you a dime:

• I made a list of everything that was stressing me out and prioritized what I needed to do and wanted to do versus what I felt I should do.

• Much of my list was under my control, but some things weren’t. I told myself, “Let it go.” There is no use worrying about the things we cannot control because the negative energy distracts us from enjoying the things we can.

• Take a break. Yes, a break. Take a look at your list and then put it down. I packed a lunch that afternoon and drove to a nearby park facing the Niagara River (the gorgeous river empties into Niagara Falls, a perk of living in Buffalo). I took an hour-long walk along the river, cell phone turned off, taking time to enjoy the smell of the water, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore whenever a jet ski zoomed by. The only thing I allowed my mind to focus on was the hopscotch game of avoiding seagull poop on the walking trail ahead (the seagulls must have ingested a bottle of Ex-lax earlier that morning, I swear!)

• Do nothing. After I walked, I unpacked my lunch and sat on a rock with my feet dangling over the water. I closed my eyes and just-well-did nothing. It was great! When the tide came in, it soaked me from head to toe and I laughed. I breathed. I think I meditated somewhere in there, I’m not sure. After about twenty-five minutes, I returned to my car and drove home.

I went back to my list. Somehow, it didn’t seem quite as daunting as before. Maybe it was because I had mental clarity now. Study after study shows us that when we take a break from the world and return less stressed, we’re actually more productive, more creative and more optimistic. Suffering will not yield success. Taking one hour out of our day to recharge, reflect and do nothing will actually make us more productive in the long run.

A friend of mine once told me that play is not something that should be earned. She is right. “An hour of play keeps the doctor away.” ;-)

Now go play, jeez, it’s summer! Bite into a watermelon and count how many seeds you can spit out in between chomps. Fun!

~ Maria Pascucci, founder & president, Campus Calm
Author, Campus Calm University

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