I was up to my eyeballs in alligators. Looming deadlines for crucial proposals were haunting me, and I was working in overdrive. Then I remembered the scheduled team retreat. Months earlier, we had decided to take half a day to unwind, de-stress and learn mindful practices from our resident expert, Launda Wheatley.

I can’t do this, I thought. As the date approached, my panic grew. I told a coworker that there was no way that I could attend. She wisely replied, “That’s exactly why you need to be there.” (She’s such a smarty pants sometimes.)

Fast forward to the afternoon after the retreat. Calm, focused and thinking clearly, I whipped through those proposals in record time. And they rocked. (No, they weren’t perfect, but they reflected a clarity that I had spent days trying to achieve pre-retreat.)

The moral is, sometimes you need to stop and do something GREAT for yourself, especially when you think you “can’t.”

One of the most profound things Launda shared that day was, “Stress is like living with garbage everywhere, but you don’t see it anymore. It has become your second skin.” The payoff for me for shedding that heavy, dead skin was:

Clarity. Before the retreat, my thinking was hazy. Post-retreat, it felt like the fog had lifted. I made connections more easily and zeroed in on what was important.

Renewed energy to tackle real problems. Pre-retreat my energy level was abysmal. I wasn’t sleeping well, and caffeine was my lifeline. (Sound familiar?) When I returned to the office after the morning of de-stressing, I was jazzed and ready to go. That night, I slept like a baby.

Remembering what calm is like. At one point during the session with Launda I thought, “Oh, I remember this feeling. It’s calm.” It was perhaps the most enduring lesson from the experience. If I start to think that frantic is normal, I need to stop and recharge.

Stress is a necessary part of life, and it can be a great motivator. As Willa Sibert Cather said, “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” What I’ve discovered is that I am capable of driving through the storms that will surely pop up, but a state of calm is where I do my best work.

Want to find calm in the midst of your storm? Contact Humanergy.

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