Life is stressful (that’s not going to change). These actionable tips will anchor you so that you can think more clearly about how to move forward in the ocean of life.
Change Your Life By Becoming More Present
Slow and steady with perfect rhythm, our hearts act as our own personal metronomes keeping our internal organs nourished while it feels like the outside world is crumbling around us.
Take a moment.
Feel your heartbeat.
Thank your heart.
These days it’s hard to find that rhythm and balance in our lives.
Every day the media bombards us with an overly-sensationalized tragic story and social media barrages us with a flurry of personal opinions that are presented as “facts”.
We need a break!
We need to create more white space in our day.
In psychologist Adam Alter’s TED talk, he discusses the effects our screen time has on our personal development. We’re suffering from diminishing “white space”, which is defined as unfettered time within each 24 hour period when we’re not sleeping, working, looking after others, doing necessary chores. White space is “the time we have to develop ourselves as individuals; whether it’s taking up a new hobby, thinking, being creative, or developing a relationship that matters.”
You can INSTANTLY create more white space in your day by planting stopping cues along your route. Stopping cues remind us to pause, shift gears, and change our mindset.
Years ago, our world was filled with reminders to pause:
- When the newspaper was read, you folded it up and got on with your day.
- We waited until Thursday night TV to watch our favorite show, and when it was over, it was done
- When commercials came, we stood up and walked to the fridge
- When the postman came, you read your mail
In contrast: now we’re endlessly scrolling for new content, refreshing our screens, binging on Netflix, and reading emails and messages any time we see a push notification. (Those little push notifications are a dopamine hit to our brain, every time!)
It’s time to re-create stopping cues so you can revert back to a human being and not a human doing.
A stopping cue is a smaller version of a ritual, which helps shape our human behavior. These rituals can be formal or informal. These mini-ceremonies mold our creativity, frame our day, and promote bonding with ourselves and others.
The following is a list of suggested stopping cues/mini- rituals as a reminder to pause. You can use these stopping cues to link to a specific behavior (pause your monkey brain, practice gratitude, take a deep breath, put your phone down…whatever you are challenged with).
Pick one and try it on!
If it doesn’t work for you (or the behavior you linked), play with another cue to remind yourself of your vitality.
Stopping Cues to Remind You to Pause and Breathe:
- Hearing the hourly bell from a neighboring church
- Sitting at a stoplight
- Feeling the first hunger pang of the day
- Sipping on tea or coffee in the mid-afternoon
- Full body stretch after your morning alarm goes off
- Prolonged hug when you greet your family member(s) after work (of course this is after you thoroughly shower and change your clothes!)
- Locking the door as you leave in the morning
- Turning off the lights before bed
- Stepping into the shower
- Removing your shoes when you come home
- Stirring the pot on the stove
We can’t control what is happening in the world right now, but with a bit of practice and intentionality, we can become as steady as our heartbeats and positively shape our present and future by adding meaningful pauses in our lives.
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“Hurry Sickness” was discovered in 1974 by two cardiologists, Friedman and Rosenman when they noticed that a lot of their patients with Type A behavior had more risk of heart attack and death.