Recover August

Life sometimes begins to feel like days, weeks and months jam-packed with activity, meetings, people, email, phone calls and messages in a constant never ending flow.  Sometimes we just want to escape!  Escaping (taking a vacation, etc) can be an excellent strategy to recover from such an onslaught of activity that daily life seems to be.  However, escaping isn’t always practical...I don’t know anyone who can take a vacation everyday!  So if you’re feeling the squeeze of life (stress) and it’s running you down maybe it’s time to adopt a few strategies to recover from it’s grip.  In looking through the research, as it turns out, most mental “stress” is created when individuals are preoccupied with thoughts of the past (a past conversation, something they didn’t get to, etc) or of the future (all the things that need to be done).  Simply put - we become so anxious about the past and future that we become paralyzed in the present.  A great way to break free of this habit is to simply practice mindfulness.

Before being able to practice something we should probably know what it is in the first place.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Buddist Monks spend a lifetime practicing this skill and for many laypersons it can be difficult to know where to begin.  
So if you lack the resources for an extended vacation as most of us do and you need a small dose of recovery try these a few of these tips which can help us be mindful of the present.  You may be amazed with the results.

  • Sit quietly in the morning. When you wake up, in the quiet of the morning, perhaps as your coffee is brewing, simply find a comfortable place to sit quietly and lightly stretch (there is no right or wrong way to do’s not about the stretching anyway).  Just tune in to and feel each muscle in the body as it moves and slowly awakens to the day.  Also just sitting and focusing on your breathing going in and out can be a very simply yet effective technique.
  • Brush your teeth. I assume we all brush our teeth, but often we do it while thinking of other things. Try fully concentrating on the action of brushing, on each stroke of each tooth, going from one side of the mouth to the other. You end up doing a better job, and it helps you realize how much we do on autopilot.  Be present in the experience.  
  • Eat mindfully. Turn off the TV, put away the computer and mobile devices, even put away the book or newspaper. If you eat with any of these things (most people do), eating without them will seem boring. And yet, unless you do this, you are not truly appreciating your food.  Eat each meal mindfully, paying attention to each bite. It may even make the food taste better (or worse depending on what you’re eating)!
  • Look at someone gratefully. Each day, find someone you care about. Instead of just seeing what you always see, really look at the person. Try not to do it creepily though!  See this person for the miracle that they are, and be grateful for their existence. If you’re feeling generous, tell that person how thankful you are for them.

So go ahead and give these things a try.  You may feel a little silly at first, but it’s amazing what a difference they can make!
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