There are so many things in life that we can’t control. Everything from work deadlines to carpool pickup times are dictated to us. Focusing on this perspective can make it feel like the world is stacked against us, and life can feel overwhelming and difficult. Luckily, we have options.
We can also choose to meet life with another perspective. We can empower ourselves and not allow stress and chaos to get the better of us, but instead decide to bring our very best selves to every situation. We do this by coming back to center and balance in the face of stress, allowing ourselves to become less reactive and more responsive.
Living in today’s modern times, we face more stress than ever before. Life moves fast, and we often feel pulled in many directions at once. When we feel stressed, chemical reactions occur in our bodies. Hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are pumped throughout our system in an effort to help keep us safe and prepare our body to deal with potential danger. When this happens every once in a while we are good to go, but according to the Mayo Clinic, when these hormones and chemicals are pumped through our bodies day in and day out, they build up toxicity in our bodies, which can lead to long-term problems like heart disease, obesity, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and even cancer. I don’t want any of those and I’m sure you don’t either!
It is impossible to simply avoid life and all of its trials and tribulations, so we need to find a way to manage them in the moment and calm our bodies down in the face of stress.
One-minute meditations have been a total game-changer in my life because in about sixty seconds I can bring myself back to center and balance. These exercises can be done anytime, anywhere. When someone cuts me off on the freeway, I’m gearing up for an important meeting, or my kids are driving me crazy, my breath is the most portable self-care tool I have. If you are in a safe, comfortable place, feel free to close your eyes. Otherwise please leave them open — especially if you are driving!
Here are a few of my favorites:
Match your inhale and exhale
Instead of automatically reaching for my phone, I now match my inhale and exhale at traffic lights so that I arrive wherever I am going feeling centered. I also use this trick in line at the grocery store so that I don’t feel like I am wasting time standing around. Any minute can feel like a mindful one!
At a comfortable pace for you, while breathing in and out of your nose, count to three as you breathe in and three as you breathe out. Aim for ten complete cycles.
Do a quick body scan
I do a quick body scan the second I feel my shoulders start to tense, which is one tell-tale sign that I feel stressed. I also love using body scans when I get into bed at night to be sure that I have released any tension in my body that has built up during the day.
Start at the top of your head. Pause at each part of your body and be sure that it is nice and relaxed, ending at your toes. Pay special attention to your jaw, shoulders, and belly.
I have a note that simply says “Gratitude” taped to my bathroom mirror, so that when I brush my teeth in the morning and evening I see it, and simply think of a few things I am grateful for, allowing me to begin and end my day with appreciation.
Since it is virtually impossible to feel stress and gratitude at the same time, think of three things you are grateful for in the moment. Big or little, you will be able to shift and recalibrate your energy.
As one-minute meditations become habit, you won’t be able to imagine your life without them. The more often you take the opportunity to calm yourself down in the face of stress, the more centered, balanced, and present you will feel. Next thing you know, you will be dealing with stress one mindful minute at a time.
Originally published at medium.com