Did you just roll your eyes? Think about the treadmill of meetings, deadlines, workouts, sports physicals for the kids, vet visit for the dog, and by the way, where are those overdue summer reading library books? How can you pause — why would you want to?

It’s like a time-out for grown ups

You don’t have to stop doing. But pressing pause can give you a little more being in each day, which goes a long way to kicking stress to the curb. Our brains run in overdrive and sometimes we don’t even know it. Give yourself the gift of a small time-out. Take just 10 or 15 minutes to:

1. Think about what stresses you.

  • What are those thoughts that play on a constant loop in your head? What reactions are just habits?
  • Get under the surface of your stressors. Suss out what’s underneath so you can slay that beast.

2. Know which sense you use most and try another one on for size.

  • Do you tend to use your head, your heart or your body signals when you make decisions or react to others?
  • Not sure? Pay attention to your own language. Which do you say more often: “I think….”, “I feel…” or “My gut says…” Those are clues.
  • Now get quiet and tune into your other senses.

3. Check in with your body.

  • Is your brow furrowed? Is your jaw clenched? Are your shoulders high and tight? What about your stomach? Your hips? Find where you’re holding the stress and clench then relax it a few times.
  • If you can, get out in nature. Take a stroll. Notice any trees, grass, flowers or water. Go barefoot if you can! If you can’t get outside, then stretch, walk silently around the office and focus your thoughts on what your body might be telling you.
  • Pay attention to your breath. There are different breathing techniques to calm or energize you.

4. Check in with your feelings.

  • Close your eyes, soften your breathing and focus on the center of your chest.
  • Tune into your feelings and see what comes up.

5. Change your perspective.

  • If a stressor feels too big to tame, try looking at it from a distance.
  • What does it look like looking down at it from a hot air balloon? An airplane? Outer space?

6. Write down what works for you and keep it handy. You’re going to need it. This is your shortcut to stopping an emotional short circuit in its tracks. When you feel stress levels rising, know which techniques work for you to bring them back down.

7. Practice. Here’s the tough news. Like most things in life, this takes practice. It may work like a charm once, then not so much the next time. Keep at it. You’re retraining your brain, here. It takes more than a workout or two to get a ripped physique. Same with reconnecting with your inner zen master.

Why does any of this matter? 

When you can let go of a bit of stress, even for a few moments, you enrich the connection with a deeper part of yourself (not your role as a worker, parent, child, sibling, etc.). When you do that, you honor your own needs and develop greater empathy for family, friends and coworkers. You may also better relate to and serve the patients and clients that rely on your organization.