Collectively, we all deserve and need time to process our mental state this week, and take the time to take a break. The speed at which challenges are arising in our daily lives seems unprecedented. This includes events that deeply affect our physical and mental health, personal safety included.
As Chicago residents, our hearts go out to our local community here in Highland Park that incurred a tragedy last weekend amidst a celebration of freedom, of all things.
More than “how to” take a break, we hope this serves as a reminder to take one, first and foremost. During times of overwhelm, we can easily forget to stop and reset. We should stop to think, process, and simply sit with ourselves to understand how we feel and what we want to do about it. When chaos is consistent, it can feel like we’re becoming desensitized to the stress when in fact it’s simply adding on top of the stress we already have.
Here are three (reminders) methods for taking a break this week:
1. Perform a “Stress Relief” meditation
Cadence: 3-4-7-0 (Inhale-Pause-Exhale-Pause) This breathing strategy will activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the opposite system as your “fight or flight” mode when you’re alert and stimulated. Notice this has a “pause” between inhale and exhale and you’re also looking to make the exhale last at least seven seconds. Try for four cycles (minimum). If you don’t think you can meditate, you can.
2. Find some open space in nature
Find a park, spot near a body of water, or hillside to sit outside for a few minutes. Ideally, you’d find solace from city noise or lots of other people, but a space certainly with fresh air. The more space, the better. This is a great spot to double up and perform the meditation as well. Allow yourself the time and space to simply be, rather than expect you’ll feel a certain way.
3. Spend some time in silence
Sometimes it feels good to turn on music on, watch TV, or feel “distracted.” Escapism is a go-to strategy for most people to reduce stress, however, it’s not always effective. It is by definition not addressing any of the underlying feelings, which short-term can be helpful but long-term can be detrimental. Spend some time in silence; what comes up?
To finish, here is something I’ve been trying to remind myself throughout. This country is built on optimism; let us not forget that the “promise” of the USA that we might feel like is currently failing us still holds strong. Tomorrow can be better than today if we work towards that future. We cannot give up the pursuit of or faith in a better tomorrow. Control what you can control, keep your head up, and keep going.