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  • Writer's pictureHang Zhao

Stay active to slow down

Stay active to slow down, stress management, health, well-being, healthy lifestyle, work life balance, self discovery, mental health

After the previous blog, Turning inward, readers have been asking me what I do to slow down, reflect and recharge. I was hesitant to give them an answer. My practice works for me, but it is probably not universal. I believe that it is everyone’s journey to discover what they need. However, I’ve also come to the realization that sharing my experience might provide an opening for people to embark on their own self-discovery journey. So here I am!

One of my practices to slow down is actually to stay active. It sounds counter intuitive, but I run fast and lift hard to slow down. How does that work? When I’m frustrated, angry, or stressed, I feel stuck. Instead of taking a pause, I push through because that is what I know how to do. Doing that subconsciously my entire life, I’ve become really good at functioning on top of my emotions while leaving all the feelings simmering underneath the surface waiting to explode. And yes, it will explode! When I get caught up in my own internal turmoil, I lose the ability to calm down. Meditation and journaling are both amazing techniques, and they have done wonders for me, but those techniques fall short at moments like this. When I am caught in this state, it is almost impossible for me to sit still without the inner voice yelling at me, let alone reflect and view things from a different perspective.

What works for me, instead, is to snap out of that space so I have enough air and room to think. Working out is my way of snapping out. When I step inside the gym, that is my world and I live in that bubble for an hour. I am hyper focused during workout because it is really really hard. I need to use every ounce of my energy to think about my posture and movement to get it right, and even with all my attention, sometimes I still don’t get it right. So really when I am on the turf lifting, squatting or lunging, I have nothing to spare; not to business development, to-do list, the next meeting, etc. My inner world calms down and time becomes slow. After workout, I have much more mental space to be with my emotions, and that is when I can actually put journaling or meditating to good use. And because I stopped thinking about everything for an hour, experiencing that distance allows me to view the situation clearer as an outsider afterwards.

Identifying and finding out what works for me does not happen in a day. It is a process of trial and error, taking swings and making adjustments. Working out is not a bullet proof approach either, not even for me, but it is one of many practices supporting me to create and live the life I want to live. Practice is like dancing: if you stop and look at it every second, it might not be pretty but the beauty exists in the movement and flow. So make a move to see what is out there for you.

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