Simon and Garfunkel had it right way back in 1967 when they wrote, “Slow down you move too fast.”
We live in a global world; we’re connected 24/7. We check email just before turning out the light each night and then as soon as we wake up in the morning. We’re surrounded with busy-ness and constant motion. We often run from one task to the next without taking a moment to stop and think about what we’re doing. We’re on call 24/7 ready to act — and react.
It’s all very mentally and physically exhausting. No wonder many of us are “stressed out!”
You may not even know you’re suffering from stress. According to the CDC here are some common symptoms: Tension and irritability; fear and anxiety about the future; difficulty making decisions; loss of appetite or overeating (or drinking); sadness; feeling powerless; sleep problems; headache; back pains; and stomach problems.
So what do we do to help stay mentally (and physically) well?
We all have the same 24 hours. Yes, we’re all insanely busy but we can make the decision to slow things down even just for a few moments each day. How we think can have just as much to do with our physical and mental wellbeing as what we put into our bodies.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is defined as an attentive awareness of the present moment. In our fast-paced, stressed-out world, living mindfully has become more important than ever. We can practice mindfulness when biking to work, walking the dog, going for a jog, driving the car or preparing a meal. All of these activities offer us the opportunity to pay attention to the present moment. Instead of multi-tasking to see how many things we can do at once, try paying attention to what we see, hear, smell, taste or touch at any given moment. The happiest people find pleasure in their simple everyday tasks.
Affirm the Positive: Begin your day in the right frame of mind by thinking positive thoughts. Even before you get out of bed take a moment to decide that you’re going to do your best to make it a great day. Arm yourself with a positive outlook so you’ll be better equipped to ward off negative people and events. Instead of negative self-talk, use positive daily affirmations (those you create or something you read) to help you stay focused. It is possible to conquer our fears and enjoy the present. Seize the day by making the conscious decision to do so.
Review Your Priorities: When situations become difficult, it helps to take a step back and remember what’s most important-our health and wellbeing. We have a tendency to get caught up and to act impulsively. Stop, think, breathe deeply and focus on the positive and what’s really important. Take time before reacting or responding.
Breathe Deeply: Shut everything down, close your eyes and breathe deeply for 10 minutes every day. Try journey meditation: imagine yourself in a beautiful place completely separated from your everyday life, somewhere you feel safe. Visualize a garden, tropical island or peaceful mountaintop to slow down your mind and remind yourself of the world’s beauty. Pause for a moment each day and honor the progress you’ve already made in your life, acknowledge the gifts you have and appreciate life for a few breaths. You can also find guided meditations online (but you have to close your email program first!). Tara Brach is one of my favorites.
In the end it all comes back to mindfulness. Living and appreciating the moments, keeping our physical bodies well through daily exercise, and taking the time to nourish ourselves with healthful whole foods all combine to make us the best version of ourselves. Love yourself and your body… it’s the only one you have!
Ginny Wright has been a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor for more than 10 years. She received her Health Coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York in 2007. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.