When I return from an adventure trip or expedition, I often find I want a period of “decompression” to enable me integrate back into my day to day life. After being away for over 2 months on the North West Passage, this period of decompression lasted a few weeks. Last year after climbing Mont Blanc, it was just a few days. What I mean by decompression is simply a little time to readjust back into my surroundings and initially process the experience I have just had in the wilds of nature. I always return with a slightly different perspective on life than what I had before I left.
Decompression time is essentially a transition ritual – a ritual that enables us to mentally and emotionally transition from one situation to another so that we can be fully present and engaged in the new activity or situation. Transition rituals are very relevant to many of us today as we do our best to navigate a hybrid working world.
Prior to Covid, many of us had some form of a commute to work – be it a walk, drive, bus, train or cycle. Although we may not have appreciated it at the time, our travel home from work in the evenings presented an opportunity to “decompress” from our working day and transition into a different element of our life in the evenings. Some may have used this “transition time” on the way home to listen to the radio, audio book, a favourite podcast while others may have simply enjoyed the quiet time alone with thoughts and reflections from the day.
Many of us no longer have a commute for much of the week and so our natural form of decompression and transition is gone. Transition rituals help to create boundaries where needed and enable us to mentally and emotionally leave one aspect of our life behind for a period of time so that we can be more present and engaged in other parts of our life.
If you find yourself struggling to decompress and transition away from your work day, then consider inserting a simple 15 minute transition ritual into your calendar at the end of each day. Don’t view this as finishing 15 minutes early but consider this as a core ritual that can enable you to better complete your day and begin the next day with additional focus. Your 15 minute transition ritual could take many different forms. Here’s a few I’ve used myself and have shared with clients:
- Clear your desk and shut everything down on your laptop including powering off.
- Put your laptop in a part of your home that makes it less likely you will reach for it later in the evening.
- Physically stretch your body and use your breathwork to help in this.
- Go for a short walk.
- Journal any reflections and learnings from your day.
- Plan what you want to focus on tomorrow.
- Take a 15 minute power nap.
- Go for a swim if you live near the water.
Being present, focus and engaged is one of the 5 pillars I consider key to good mental fitness and agility. Transition rituals are one simple tool that can enable us to improve this aspect of our mind-game…