One of my goals this year is to complete a triathlon, a sprint triathlon to be precise. So, I’m all signed up for the 19th May with my friend Chelle. We caught up last week and started chatting training, turns out she’s rather more organised that I am. She started talking me through ‘transitions’, moving from swimming to cycling and then running seamlessly with the correct clothing, footwear and equipment for each stage. Given that I am physically incapable of stripping a duvet cover from a duvet, the chances of me being able to strip off a wetsuit and put on cycling shoes with grace, ease and speed are pretty low.
But the conversation did get me thinking, we do mental transitions all the time, constantly in fact. Our lives are broken down into different versions of ourselves. For me there’s “work me”, “mum me”, “one of the girls me”, and “wife me” to name but a few. For each version of ourselves we turn up or down facets of our personality to give the people in our lives the best side of ourselves. More than ever this is a tough ask. With flexible working has come the ability to answer an email at any time of the day or night. How many times have you been having a conversation with your spouse while you write a work email?
An example of when I don’t transition well is when I am “work me”, my day is beyond busy and, because I’m an innate problem solver, I just can’t down tools and switch off until I’ve worked out the answer. This means that when I need to switch to “mum me” and pick up my kids, my work brain just won’t switch off. My little girl will be telling me about her day and I’m still figuring out how we can make pop-ups in an interactive PDF. It’s the equivalent of being half way through a 20k bike ride and still analysing how I can improve my stroke on my front crawl. Completely pointless and not giving the task at hand the energy and concentration it requires.
This is all compounded by the fact that I work from home. There is no train journey or bike ride to leave work behind and transition to the other me. So, how can I create a moment which divides the two biggest parts of my life? Today instead of doing my training run in the morning, I saved it till the end of the day, I literally ran out my day then went straight to pick up my kids. This gave me a moment to shake off the working day and apply my mind to being “mum me”. It helped, it really helped.
I get that running isn’t everyone’s thing…so here’s some other ways to better transition, so you are able to be present in every situation.
TOP 5 TIPS TO MENTALLY TRANSITION:
Grab your headphones and listen to a podcast or Spotify playlist (instead of checking emails)
Pop into a café, sit down to really taste your latte
Spend some time meditating – if you don’t know how then check out: Headspace.com
Choose a different way to walk somewhere – clear your head and boost those endorphins
Breathe – nourish your body with some breathing exercises (or just take a few deep breaths)
Whatever you decide works for you, make sure you take a moment for a transition to take place. I promise by giving yourself time and space, you will seamlessly move between your life situations and be able to give each the energy and focus it deserves.
The prospect of me wriggling out of a wetsuit and gracefully diving into cycling shoes however, still baffles me…