Just Breathe

just breatheA recent article in Shape magazine said that 16 seconds of meditating each day is all it takes to change your brain in ways that make you happier, more present and less frazzled.

Got stress? Nowadays it feels like there is a lot of stress in our world. We worry about keeping our kids safe, about a new promotion, losing the weight, paying off the student loan and saving for retirement. These are just a few among the MANY stressors in our lives.

Did you know in the early days of the humans they used stress for survival? It was a protective response to make sure they lived.

  • A lion appears across the plain > you feel stressed > you run away > your stress is relieved.
  • A storm rumbles in the distance > you worry about finding shelter > you find shelter > your anxiety is relieved.
  • You haven’t drank any water today > you feel stressed and dehydrated > you find water > your stress is relieved.

In fact, humans at this time didn’t really have chronic stress. They didn’t really have any uncertainty and lived more in the moment. They had to in order to survive. Today there are so many uncertain things in our lives that for many of us, it can be too much to bear.

We know we can’t get rid of the uncertainty. What do we do? A couple questions I always ask myself is, “What good is it going to do for me to worry about this? Is anything going to change if I sit here and worry about this all night?” These seem to put things in perspective for me and I move on.

A couple others that have been suggested are:

1. Measure Something. You don’t know if you are going to get the promotion but you can track how many quality projects you produce and how many relationships you build. You don’t know how much money you will have in retirement but you can track how much you put into savings each month.

The people that are the most successful in life and have the least stress are those that track which direction their life is going: one conversation at time. As told in one of my favorite books on the planet, Fierce Conversations, our lives are moving in one direction or another one conversation at a time. If you don’t feel things are going well, course correct and fix it. It’s never too late to make things right.

2. Shift Worry: Shift your worry from a long-term problem to a change in daily routine. Worry about living a long, healthy life? Start to walk daily and make good food choices. Instead of worrying about whether your child is getting a college scholarship, make sure they are studying every night. There are many ways we can shift focus to make sure our current actions are affecting our future.

Another great one for me is just breathing. Go ahead and give it a try: Take a deep breath for four counts and hold it for four, then slowly exhale for four and pause for a final four. Those 16 seconds of meditating might just be the one thing you need to clear your mind and move forward. And who doesn’t have 16 seconds?

So there’s your homework. Now go do it!

Happy Monday!


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