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Happiness Tip: Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There

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In a world that is “on” 24/7, few of us get much regular rest. We go go go — perhaps getting a lot of work done, or cramming loads of activity into the day — while ignoring our body’s natural rhythms and need for post-sprint recovery. The result is that many of us are more stressed out, anxious, and depressed than previous generations.

A terrific antidote — that we all have with us all the time — is simple meditation. Scores of studies have shown the benefits of meditation to be broad and profound: meditation lowers our stress and anxiety, helps us focus, and, ironically, makes us more productive. Meditation even makes us healthier! After meditating daily for eight weeks, research subjects were 76% less likely than a non-meditating control group to miss work, and if they did get a cold or a flu, it lasted only five days on average, whereas the control group illnesses lasted an average of eight.

Take Action: After you’ve been working hard for about ninety minutes, your body and brain will be ready for a meditation break. Sit in a comfortable position, spine straight and hands relaxed in your lap. Close your eyes, and turn your attention to your breath. (Breathe naturally, controlling your attention, not your breath.) When your mind wanders — and it will — gently bring your attention back to noticing your breath. Try to meditate for 10-20 minutes before you go back to the hustle and bustle of the day, to really give yourself a break.

(If you are new to meditation, you can also start with just a minute or so and build up to 20 minutes.)

For further instruction sign up for my Mindful Parenting online class. Learn the latest mindfulness research and put it into practice immediately.

About the Author

Christine Carter, Ph.D., draws on psychology, sociology, and neuroscience, and uses her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures to demonstrate happiness do’s and don’ts in action.

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