Take a moment to be still. Close your eyes or focus your gaze in front of you. Take a few slow, deep breathes, filling your belly and feeling your chest rise, filling your lungs breathing slowing in and out through your nose. How did that feel?
It is not uncommon to hear "there aren't enough hours in the day". We are constantly on the go often putting everyone and everything else first, including our health. We live in a society where we have become accustomed to doing more, or have fallen into a routine that does not include time for stillness and reflection. I have seen this manifest in patients as an inability to achieve certain health goals despite the feeling of working quite hard to do so. I have also of course, seen this manifest as increase stress, anxiety and insomnia, which have adverse effects on ones health. This has led many that I work with to feel frustrated and fall into habits and a lifestyle that lead them on a path of suboptimal health.
Often when you hear that you should take a moment to be still and reflect, what comes to mind is meditation or writing in a journal, both of which are associated with taking up time-time that is perpetually in short supply. While journaling and meditation promote stillness and offer a time for reflection, it is not necessarily the case that they have to take up large chunks of time out of your day. Considering the demands of work and tending to the needs of family, it is a real challenge for some to carve out 15-30 minutes to sit and meditate or journal. What about taking a few seconds either and the start or end of your day to simply breathe deeply? The start of this post began with taking seconds to be in still and take a few deeps breathes. It can be just that simple initially.
During "good" weeks, the beginning of this post is how I begin my day. Taking literally 2-3 minutes after shutting off my alarm to breathe deeply and think about the day that is ahead of me. When I am really on top of things, I take a bit more time to reflect on what I want to accomplish for that day, journal for 10-15 minutes or create my agenda/to-do list for the day and then begin with all of the things that need to be accomplished in the next 12-18 hours. On the days that I do this, I have observed that I feel less stressed throughout the day, I am significantly more productive and I am more calm at the end of the day. I go in and out of regular practice. I generally fall back into practice when I begin to notice, as I mentioned above that I am doing quite a bit but not getting very much done or, I am feeling increasingly and easily frustrated. These are my clues that I have not been taking time for stillness and reflection.
In last week's blog post, I spoke on the importance of planning. What I did not mention is that your plan, be it toward better health or some other goal does not have to be grand in scale. We accomplish all tasks, however great or small, one day at a time. Begin with a plan for your day. Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day to sit in stillness, breathe and reflect on the day you have had or are going to have. On the days that you do this, be mindful of how this practice impacts your mood, stress levels and productivity throughout the day.
Once a regular practice, you may find that you want to take bigger steps toward better health. At that time, when a more robust plan is needed, come in to Northwest Wellness to see a Naturopathic physician that can support you in your health goals by working with you to create your personalized plan for wellness.