The Most Important Break You’ll Ever Take

by Elana Peled

In colleges and universities across the United States, the end of the academic year is marked with parties and celebrations. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling on the outside of all the revelry.

For many people, the end of the academic year brings far more anxiety than cause for celebration. Much of that anxiety can be attributed to the unavoidable changes and transitions that are about to occur. As classes come to an end, so too do the routines you developed to achieve your goals in those classes.

As a result, you may be left wondering exactly what will motivate you to get out of bed in the morning or how you will fill all the hours that you so recently spent attending classes and completing your assignments.

The end of the academic year can also be a time of transitioning relationships. Some of the people whom you are accustomed to seeing and interacting with on a regular basis may soon disappear from your life. It’s perfectly natural to have grown attached to the intellectual, emotional and even spiritual support you benefited from during the time you spent with the people in your classes. After all, these people have been participants in your journey of personal growth and development.

In addition to your classes ending, you may be facing other transitions as well. The end of the academic year may herald a transition in your work or living situations or even in your home.

And to make matters worse, your mind is probably really, really tired from all the effort it exerted to get you through your final exams and end-of-year requirements. When your mind is tired, you are far more likely to see events in a negative light. Instead of looking toward the future as an opportunity to embrace, you may very well view the changes that end-of-year transitions bring as hassles to be dealt with or problems to be solved. Even worse, these transitions may feel like threats to your very existence.

With all these negative feelings swirling around in your mind and body, you may even find yourself experiencing more frequent and intense conflicts with others as you move through this time of change.

As the writer, neuropsychologist and meditation teacher Rick Hanson points out, having a tired mind is “deeply unnatural.” To resolve the negativity brought on by mental exhaustion, Hanson advocates rest. But not physical rest. The rest he refers to is mental rest.

According to Hanson, mental rest involves three steps.

The first step is to monitor your thoughts on a regular basis. At various moments throughout the day, stop to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I thinking about?
  • Is this productive?
  • Do I want to keep thinking about this?

The second step is to give your mind little breaks. You do this by bringing your attention into your body and paying attention either to your breath or to your movements. Hanson suggests looking up into the corner of a room and exhaling. Exhaling, he explains, “engages the calming and restorative parasympathetic wing of the nervous system to slow your heart rate; the longer the exhalation, the more parasympathetic activation.”

The third step is to “take a bird’s-eye view of wherever you are, as if you were looking down on it from a few hundred feet above.” Watching yourself in an impersonal way activates “circuits on the sides of your brain that are associated with spacious mindful awareness.”

To Hanson’s three steps, I like to add a fourth: tapping (EFT).

Tapping is especially useful for putting an end to those nagging thoughts that just won’t go away, even after you’ve identified them as being unproductive and made the decision that you’d like to stop thinking about them.

I’d like to leave you today with a tapping script that you can use for any nagging, unproductive thoughts that may be reflective of the resistance or struggle you are experiencing as you go through any period of change.

The EFT set-up phrase:

Even though I really dread making a change to my routine, I deeply and completely accept myself.

Even though I fear that changing my routine will set me back, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I don’t want to change from my routine, I love, honor and accept who I am and how I feel.

Now tap through the points, repeating the following phrases:

Eyebrow: I don’t want my life to change.

Side of Eye: I don’t want this period of my life to come to an end.

Under Eye: I don’t want my life to change.

Under Nose: I don’t want to say good-bye to the people I’ve known during this time in my life.

Chin: I don’t want my life to change.

Collarbone: I don’t want to say good-bye to the surroundings that I’ve grown accustomed to during this time in my life.

Underarm: I don’t want my life to change.

Top of Head: I don’t want to create a new routine for my life.

Eyebrow: I don’t want my life to change.

Side of Eye: Change is so hard.

Under Eye: I don’t want my life to change.

Under nose: Change is such a hassle.

Chin: I don’t want my life to change.

Collarbone: I want everything to stay just the way it is.

Underarm: I don’t want my life to change.

Top of Head: New routines are so hard to establish.

Eyebrow: I don’t want my life to change.

Side of Eye: It takes so much energy to set up a new routine.

Under Eye: I don’t want my life to change.

Under Nose: I have to work so hard just to make a tiny change.

Chin: And I’m too tired to work hard.

Collarbone: I’ve been working hard.

Underarm: And I just want to rest.

Top of head: I don’t want my life to change.

Now take a deep breath, exhale, and then continue tapping on the following:

Eyebrow: But what if my life could change for the better?

Side of Eye: What could be better than this?

Under Eye: Well, there probably are some things that could be better.

Under nose: I could think of a few things that would be better than this.

Chin: But things are pretty good here.

Collarbone: So who am I to think there could be more?

Underarm: After all, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable in my life.

Top of Head: So why would I want to change?

Eyebrow: But what if change didn’t feel so hard?

Side of Eye: Would I be more willing to embrace it?

Under Eye: To give change a try?

Under Nose: Obviously, I don’t have a choice about change.

Chin: Change happens.

Collarbone: No matter how much I resist it.

Under Arm: Change happens.

Top of Head: But I don’t want my life to change.

Eyebrow: What if I could embrace change?

Side of Eye: I wonder if that would change how I feel about change?

Under Eye: I wonder if I could feel happy about change?

Under Nose: But that might upset someone.

Chin: Other people might be hurt if I embrace change.

Collarbone: They might think they aren’t important to me if I embrace change.

Underarm: I wouldn’t want that.

Top of Head: I wonder if I could embrace change and still convey my feelings for the people I care about?

Eyebrow: Other people do that.

Side of Eye: Why can’t I do that?

Under Eye: I’m going to try to embrace change.

Under Nose: I’m going to try to welcome the changes that are coming into my life.

Chin: Because welcoming change will be much easier than resisting change.

Collarbone: And I want my life to be easy.

Underarm: So I’m choosing to embrace change.

Top of Head: I choose to embrace change.

Eyebrow: And I choose to trust that others will embrace change with me.

Side of Eye: And I’m choosing to know that change is good.

Under Eye: And I’m choosing to honor all of my feelings about change.

Under Nose: Even if change means saying goodbye to someone or something I love,

Chin: and that makes me sad

Collarbone: I choose to embrace all of my feelings about change

Underarm: And I choose to embrace change

Top of Head: And I choose to feel good about the changes I embrace.

Take another deep breath and as you exhale, notice any changes you may be experiencing in your mind or body. If you notice any negativity arising, take a few moments to identify the thought or feeling associated with the negativity, and then do a round of basic EFT tapping to release the negativity you are experiencing.

You can learn the basic EFT recipe by watching watch this video. You may also find it helpful to download this guide to the tapping points.

And if you have any comments or questions about the exercises in today’s post, please leave them in the space below.

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