Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Relax! 60 seconds is all it takes…

60 seconds is all it takes…

It is well accepted that in our society, we are immersed in a fast paced way of life. Much is known about the potential negative consequences of unrelieved stress on both our physical and emotional health. While there may be some opportunity to alleviate your own personal stress triggers to some extent, two more realistic and immediate choices are available to you. One is to modify the manner with which you respond to a stress trigger, and the other is to practice the elicitation of a relaxation response on a regular basis.

Both of these choices are appealing, because both are attainable, pleasant, and very beneficial.

Modifying your stress trigger response involves becoming mindful. Mindfulness is about a place of observation, and in the case of a stress response, becoming observant affords an opportunity to gain insight into your response before you react. A very simple for instance is when another driver cuts you off in traffic. As opposed to reacting with indignation and cussing, consider taking a deep breath and saying to yourself, “hmm, how interesting. That fellow believes that he has to be somewhere in more of a hurry than I do. I wonder what is going on for him that is causing him to drive so quickly?” Two things have occurred here: one is that you have diffused the cascade of physical and emotional stress responses that would have negatively impacted your health—you literally prevented the fight or flight response from occurring; and two, you have chosen a new behavior in terms of reactivity. The more often you practice this mindful response to a stress trigger, the more familiar this way of thinking and being becomes to your brain, making it more likely that the next time you are stimulated, a recurrence of this positive thinking will be your chosen response. It’s similar to lifting weights—regular strength training will bring definition to your muscles; regular mindfulness training to a stress trigger, will bring “definition” to your brain. Your brain will become more fit!

The other aforementioned choice you have available to you is to cultivate a routine relaxation practice. This is not a dedicated 30 minute, sit-in-a-lotus position meditation while chanting and burning incense practice, but rather a moment or two of slow, intentional deep breathing that will change your body’s chemistry and your emotional state. Relaxation breathing will decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles, and very importantly will mitigate the wear and tear effects of the stress hormones that are consistently being released in response to our hectic days. The mind quiets; thought patterns calm, and emotions become balanced. Relaxation brings mindfulness and mindfulness leads to a sense of being relaxed. It’s a full circle experience.

Do you have 60 seconds to breathe?

Robin Mallery

Robin Mallery

Robin Mallery is passionate about food! Starting from where and how it's grown, to how far that food travels to the dinner table, to how it is prepared and savored...Robin blends shopping, cooking, and eating tips with her unique Kitchen Zen and mindful meals approach to enjoying real food.

While you are waiting for her to finish the upcoming book, "Kitchen Zen: The Journey to Nourish Body and Soul in Our Changing World", you can find Robin's sporadic blog posts here or on FaceBook.
Robin Mallery

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"After thirty years of eating healthy foods and participating in regular, vigorous exercise, I was astounded to discover I have Coronary Artery Disease. In March of 2010, I had two stents placed in my Left Anterior Descending Artery- this was big. I consulted Robin Mallery, RN, knowing she is a local expert on Cardiac Rehabilitation. I especially respected her lifestyle of nutrition and physical fitness. Robin’s reassurance that I was doing many things correctly, and her instructions on how to fine-tune my program to deal with this life-threatening disease, was invaluable. Robin’s exquisite grasp of balancing traditional medicine with diet, exercise, relaxation and fun has helped me through this medical crisis". --Maiya Gralia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and cross-country ski instructor and coach

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