Leave Auto-Pilot at The Door and Step Forward With Strength

productivity Nov 03, 2022

You wouldn't get on a plane without a pilot, so why are you running on autopilot in your own life? 

Have you recently sat in a meeting, with a colleague across from you staring straight at them and before you know it, they stand up shake your hand and thank you for your time. You watch them leave your office with the confusing feeling of “What just happened?”. Well, you’re not alone, the science shows we spend 50% of our time mind-wandering. Yes, that’s right, 50%!  

We see clients all the time who feel like they're at the top of their game and are seemingly thriving in life. They have it all, though at the same time the pressure of keeping up with the Joneses has their list of things to do, and dinner parties to attend continue to grow.  

 When we live on autopilot we are less mindful of our choices. Our choices in our words, thoughts and behaviours become mindless, and mindless actions can become unhelpful habits. You may be living for the weekend, spending impulsively or feeling unable to ignore your dealer's text on a Friday afternoon. The frequency of these experiences typically increases periodically, based on factors going on in your life at the time. November is a common period of this increase in seeking unhelpful behaviours and learned habits. All you may be able to think about is getting through the rest of the year whilst waiting in anticipation for Summer and the upcoming events and holidays. 

Mind-wandering is a period of relaxation for our brain and is more common in periods of stress or fatigue. If we are not offering our brain regular periods of relaxation, the brain struggles to maintain focus and productivity. Here are three tips to take control of mind-wandering in your day to day; 

1. Schedule time for Relaxation. I get it! Your calendar has you in back-to-back meetings, though the purpose of relaxation is to go from a tense state to a relaxed state. If relaxation is out of your practice, scheduling time for it will help you build a habit. Think orgasm, bath or massage. 

2. Take a moment to Meditate. Meditation is all about focus, and a brain is a learning machine. Think about when you are learning directions to your new house, the first 10 times you really had to focus on the map and where you were going and then all of a sudden, it became a habit. Without moments of focus, you fail to learn. Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting on a yoga mat, with your legs crossed while a sound bath sounds. For you this could be a mantra, prayer, taking a moment to look at a flame or watching the waves smash against the coastline. 

3. Mindfulness. This is a time to step out of autopilot and into our body using our five senses. Listen to your surroundings, take a deep breath, acknowledge any smells, focus on what you can see in front of you, and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth while appreciating any tastes and touching the floor that is grounding you. Just like that, you can engage with the world around you.

With the collaboration of the clinical team, this post was written by Olivia Burns.