How to Switch Off

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”

~ George Burns

How to Switch Off

By Simon Tyler

Stress and tension are possibly a standard part of your everyday regime. It’s been part of your make up for such a long time you have accepted it, adapted to it and secretly even welcome it. Your entire behavior and character has adapted to incorporate a ‘normal’ stress level that you have unconsciously accepted.

Without doubt human beings have evolved an incredible capacity to handle stresses and respond appropriately (or not).

In observing clients, entire teams, fellow passengers on trains and planes, drivers in congested traffic, I can see clearly their accumulated tensions, physically displayed, possibly not noticed in themselves, just taken as being part of being who they are.

As much of this tension build up is unconscious and unwinding is not an automatic process, you’re unlikely to be employing sufficient unwinding strategies. The main release will be in sleep, however fitful. Your morning regime though, unconsciously picks many of the stresses back up again (the next day’s challenges, that looming event, the unmet needs, your current overwhelm).

In this simple note I do not intend to focus on the items that have led to the in-body tension, but the tension itself.

Indisputably a person tensed is less flexible, physically and mentally. They are less likely to experience enjoyment, to notice opportunities, to receive insights, to creatively contemplate challenges. Your tension free state offers this potential.

Your tensions have probably been with you for some time, the longer they have the deeper you’ll need to work this.

Sit, stand or lie in the most comfortable way you can, with your spine straight, not curved. Follow this simple 3-step switch off:

  1. Switch your system off, relax, sink deeper into your stance, chair or bed. Become aware of the difference, which may be significant even at this first stage.
  2. Take a deep in and out breath.
  3. Run a quick scan up and down your body from toes to the top of your head, anything still feel tight or tense?

Now repeat – switch your system off again, sink deeper, if necessary focus the switch off on the areas that still feel tense.

Run the scan again, noticing where you feel less tense or still tense.

Repeat this process up to 6 times. The degree of change will of course lessen as more switch-offs are applied, but keep going.

Following your last switch off, take three in and out breaths, as deep as is comfortable for you (e.g. in through the nose and out through the mouth). This retunes your body to the new reduced tension level.

Return to the day at a measured pace. Enjoy!

Simon Tyler is one of the world’s leading business coaches. His work simplifies the lives of business leaders and owners. He is an incisive consultant, inspirational writer, provocative public speaker and master facilitator. To learn more about Simon, visit

Your Call to Action

Take a break right now and switch off the stress.  What daily practice do you use to switch off?