Stop, think, breathe: Why the best way to maintain a busy lifestyle is to meditate
Stress. It’s a completely normal thing, that happens to completely normal people. But that doesn’t mean you should accept it.
There’s a science behind a burnout - feeling tired, irritable, depressed, anxious, and constantly ill is your body’s way of telling you that you need time-out. It’s caused by prolonged periods of stress - such as working long hours without taking a proper break or letting your body recharge.
Prevention is key to avoiding a burnout, so before you hit rock-bottom with high blood pressure, headaches, forgetfulness, insomnia, gut issues and fatigue, try meditation. Here are five simple steps to bring the practice into your life:
Create time in your day to stop
Even if your diary is back-to-back appointments, you can still find micro-moments to recharge your mind, body and soul. Whether it’s for two minutes or 10, put things down for a short while and completely stop what you’re doing. This could be before you eat a meal, after taking a shower, before sitting down at work, or first thing in the morning.
Breathe in, breathe out
Yogis have known it all along: breathing can deliver powerful benefits to the mind and body. Yes, your body breathes anyway - but controlling it and paying attention to it helps you feel at your best. It can improve metabolism, reduce inflammation and give you better stamina to move.
Slowing down your breath induces a parasympathetic response, making you feel calm, relaxed and clear-minded. Try and exhale for longer than you inhale. Follow your breath coming in through your nose and out of your mouth in cycles. If you find it hard to concentrate, try saying “in” as you breathe in, and “out” as you let it out.
This isn’t a specialist practice that takes years to get good at. All it is is observing. Whatever you’re doing - whether you’re brushing your teeth, taking a bath or actively meditating, simply observe your experience as it is. Look at your thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations. Notice that those thoughts are not factual, they’re temporary and you can push them away. Merely noticing emotions in your body can decrease any negative effect they’re having and calm your brain.
Once you start stopping more often, you’ll soon feel the impact it has on your life. Practicing yoga is the perfect way to cultivate more mindfulness into the everyday. The practice teaches you techniques to calm the mind, breathe better and reduce stress, pains and depression. Simple yoga poses can be done in a quick 15-minute work break - try a downward dog, child’s pose, prayer salute or lying down twist to feel a rush of soothing stillness. Then, get back to your work. You’ll feel better and more productive for it than if you’d rushed through those 15 minutes.