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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"With you guiding me through the HeartMatters program, I was able to achieve a level of physical fitness that made regular and focused exercise feel more like a natural part of my day. I had slipped into a malaise that meant exercise could be ‘put aside’ for work or other important activities. Getting past this is a subtle but powerful accomplishment.

I really enjoyed playing and exercising with you outdoors (my preferred MO for our time together). The joy you bring to your work is wonderful. This flexibility put a kind of structure into my day that helped me ‘choose’ again – showed me how to take back some control of my schedule for important things like meditation and exercise.  It was also part of my journey of re-learning how to say NO to things. This represents additional forward movement for me.

Thanks Robin – I have really benefited from your work in more ways than just the obvious fitter, leaner, stronger me."

---J.E., Northern California,  Communication Consultant

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