Life can be very stressful, especially if we become part of that stress. Here’s an exercise that I have found useful.
Punctuate your day. Imagine reading a book without any punctuation. It would most likely be rather stressful and probably would not make much sense. How many of us go from awakening to sleeping without fully punctuating our day?
Let me give you an example. The alarm goes off you rush to the bathroom and brush your teeth hair wash your face thinking about what you need to be doing that day the weather the traffic you are late do you have time for breakfast is the boss going to be in a good mood will you work your lunch hour again what day is it where are your vitamins did you take them already where are your car keys did you charge your phone… Phew! Do you see? I feel tired just writing that.
So, what can we do?
It’s a new habit we have to learn and put into practice. Firstly, when your alarm goes off, or when you wake up, take a moment to fully wake up. Try to remember what you were thinking or dreaming, and then just let it go. Take three, deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth. Now you’re awake enough to move on to the next activity. If you usually put on the coffee, do so consciously. Smell the coffee. Listen to the water as it splashes into the jug. Try not to have too many, if any, distractions like the morning news on TV. Now brush your teeth consciously, taste the toothpaste. If other thoughts and distractions come into your mind, let them go, focus only on what you are doing. Three more deep breaths.
It seems like a lot of structure and effort, but with regular practice you will be doing it naturally and easily. You will also feel less stress.
Now it’s time to drive to work. Again, pause. Sit in your car and before you start the engine, take three deep breaths. Put a period behind what you’ve just done. Let it go. Then start your car and consciously drive to work. Focus on driving. If there’s a lot of traffic or delays, don’t get sucked into the stress. You may be late, so what? You can’t make the traffic disappear. It is what it is, enjoy the moment. Stressing about future events that probably won’t happen will only stress you out! Relax, remember the three deep breaths. Again, when you arrive, stay calm. Switch off the engine and actually listen to the motor shutting down. As you breath deeply three times, leave the drive behind you: forget the person that cut you off, or the road works. That is in the past. Full stop.
By not dragging past events around with you, you will be better able to give your full attention to ‘right now’. By focussing on this moment, it will stop you drifting off into events that probably won’t happen in the future. Think about it, we only regret things in the past, and we only fear things in the future. Do you ever (or can you even) regret or fear something right now in this moment?
The more you punctuation your day like this, the less stressful it will be. Initially it will feel strange. Some people may think your behaviour a little odd. One thing is for certain, they’ll definately notice you are calmer, happier, and a lot less stressed.
Now, take three deep breaths once you have finished reading this article and get ready to embrace a happy, less stressful life.
Thank you and God bless.