I find it's highly beneficial to do a personal reset every so often.
While I can't speak for others, for me personal resets come in a number of different forms although usually over the course of at least a weekend. They take me out of my comfort zone and allow me to process information with a fresh perspective.
Recently, I read How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan, and I absolutely loved the following quote:
Mendel Kaelen, a Dutch postdoc in the Imperial lab, proposes a more extended snow metaphor:
"Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficult to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction."
It is of course, completely obvious in retrospect that this is what occurs in our brains as we succumb to patterns, repetitive processes and the grooves we ourselves carve in the snow covered hill of our minds.
This effect has been inflated further with a pandemic that requires a reduction in travel and extraneous activity, so the need to reset is more important now than previously. Regardless of the amount of five minute breathing exercises or lunchtime walks that are taken, I believe they are of next to no use when the majority of the day/week is broadly the same – hence the need for more aggressive reseting.
How I reset
I like hiking, and I like yoga.
I've reset twice recently and used each method to take myself out of my comfort zone and the normal routines that occupy my day and my headspace.
Whilst I've been unable to attend an actual yoga retreat, I recently spent a weekend at home attending my own stay at home retreat. Three days and five sessions provided me with both the exercise and rest required to come back to the next week more renewed than normally I would.
Each of the active sessions were paired so well with stretching and remediation. The weekend culminated in guided meditation that provided me with an opportunity to step outside myself and observe my strengths and weaknesses. A chance to spend time introspectively examining the parts of myself I liked, and those I wished to discard.
More recently I spent a weekend hiking the Coast Track in Royal National Park. While not the most technically difficult hike, it is one of the most continuously beautiful. With the cliffs, beaches, and rocks of the New South Wales coast to our left over the two day expedition, I was bombarded, continuously, with natural beauty.
The Coast Track also features one of my favourite places to camp – near Garie Beach. Being away from the wider world, most other people, and alone with friends and nature is something I try to juggle a few times a year. Not only does this provide me with a dedicated opportunity for male bonding with close friends, but the physical removal is symbolic of the removal from my comfort zone.
Hiking equipment is probably one of the only things I'll lavish upon myself, so an excuse to use is frequently warranted.
How you reset
This one is up to you. Take yourself out of your comfort zone, and then keep doing it. I like to imagine the comfort zone in the same way I imagine the past.
Nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there.
The Golden Age Fallacy teaches us that now is objectively the best time. The Rational Wiki explains it far better than I could, and I think it's important to treat your comfort zone with the same degree of wariness as focusing too much on days gone by. It's a safe place to visit when you need it, but don't get lulled into the trap of luxuriating in its stagnating comfort.
This blog should act as a PSA to others, but also a reminder to me.
Don't get stuck in your grooves.