Many of us sit in place all day long working hard. This is bad for you mentally and physically. You know how this works when you’re focused on an important task or project. You’re on a roll and stay in your chair, not even getting up to stretch or walk around. This is something you know isn’t good for you, but are you willing to try new steps to help yourself and lower your stress level?
Many activities help lower and manage stress. What you have time to do depends on the time you can carve out each day to invest in yourself. Of course this is a function of the business you are in, what is going on with your children or family, the demands of your spouse, etc. so the hour and a half hike or bike ride might be out of reach. Despite that you probably have time for a 20 minute walk, to stretch, or do some sort of exercise. You should strive to find something that fits your busy day and which you can create the time to do. Find activities you actually like to do.
For me, fitting things in first thing in the morning makes it much more likely it will happen. I have two main things that I try to fit into my daily and weekly routines that lend themselves to the time I have and which help me to feel better physically and mentally. The first is hiking and the second is meditation.
This morning, before doing anything else, I meditated and exercised. I didn’t have time to hike, but I still stretched and exercised, getting my body and brain moving. I know some of you are thinking meditation is not for you. I used to think that way too. After learning about it more through a program at work a few years ago, I stopped and started with it, but now can’t imagine beginning my day without it.
I have meditated almost every day for a number of years. Two things helped me do this. The first was the resolve to make time and see if I found benefits from the activity. I did. Second was finding an app where I could track statistics and try to keep myself accountable.
Over time I worked my way up from 2 minutes to 5 to 10 and now, for the last few years, 20. I won’t lie and say that it’s been easy to fit in 20 minutes of meditation every day. It’s not. I know it sounds as funny reading that as it is for me to write it. How can it be hard to find 20 minutes in your entire day? We all know in reality it is. But the benefits I think I get from meditation have focused me on continuing to make it a part of my routine and it is something I look forward to doing each morning.
Interestingly, I think the hiking I do is an extension of and related to the meditation in that it puts me in a happy place and allows me space to think. For instance, on many hikes I come up with ideas for blogs. Sometimes I listen to podcasts on subjects I am interested in. Sometimes I listen to the news. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I listen to nothing and think about work, but if I have something such as a trial or deposition that day, odds are I am at home or work preparing and I have changed my routine because of the nature of that day.
These activities together help keep me better centered and less stressed than I would be if I did not do them. It makes me feel better mentally and physically. It’s important to keep moving as we get older so we can do so when we reach ages when many people have trouble doing moving and being active.
I am not suggesting that each of you should take up meditation and hiking, though I do think you should try meditation. Instead, I think you need to figure out what will help to focus on your mental and physical wellbeing. Once you do, try to do so a short time each day and you will see how it improves your life. Once you do, the next thing to do is to make it a routine. It takes almost no time to feel the benefits of taking time to invest in yourself.
Start today. Your body and brain will thank you.