STOP! Don't move so fast

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

It often seems like there’s not enough time in the day for all we have to do. Life can feel like one big to-do list, leaving us stressed and feeling we’re missing out on the fun and pleasure.

If, and when, we get all of those things done, how much of us is left over to enjoy the products of our labours?

With the many demands placed upon us, and the many more we place upon ourselves, we’re left feeling stressed, as we’re pulled in several directions at the same time.

We fall into bed exhausted, wondering where the day went. We may have trouble sleeping, thinking about what we didn’t do, or have to do tomorrow.

I used to get up earlier and work a little later when I had more to do. I felt spent, all used up, with nothing left.

I felt hazy and unclear. While lists helped keep me on track and eased some of the stress, I questioned my own mind. Simple solutions or things I needed to recall seemed elusive.

At times, I thought I had early onset dementia, which caused me distress.

Like many people, I had a habit of crazy busyness.  I was overwhelmed, and felt like an elastic-band under tension, ready to snap. And I often did. At times, I honestly wondered what life was all about.

I wanted the world to stop, and I wanted to get off the merry-go-round. In this, I was closer to a solution than I realized at the time.

When we’ve got lots to do, how can we best support ourselves? How can we reduce feeling overwhelmed and still tend to what’s required of us?

The answer is simple; STOP.

A portable, quick and powerful way to recalibrate our brains, and ability to think clearly, is to practice the mindfulness STOP skill

S: Stop and take Stock. Whatever you're doing, take a moment to pause. What’s going on in your body, emotions and mind?

T: Take a breath. Re-connect with your breath. The breath is an anchor to the present moment.

O: Observe. Notice what’s happening. What’s happening inside you, and outside of you?

P: Proceed. Continue with what you were doing.

Taking time to make time creates spaciousness in life; It’s like hitting the reset button.

The stress response is deactivated, allowing us to think better and more effectively. Our bodies benefit as we stave the flow of the many stress chemicals through our body.

Our decision-making and problem-solving improves. We’re better able to notice solutions we’d been blind to in our state of busyness.

These days, break times are often spent checking social media, keeping us stuck in the perpetual state of thinking. This doesn’t allow for relaxation and rejuvenation. Making STOP a frequent habit pays great dividends.

I’ve had a sitting practice for a long time. It’s lovely, but I’ve found life improving dramatically as I take simple mindfulness practices with me throughout my day.

What’s been amazing to me is how much more effective and efficient I’ve become as I pause and STOP several times a day.

My memory has gotten better, instead of worse, as I age. I never realized how much stress affected my ability to remember and think.

Mindfulness is a pill like no other, and it’s simply a practice of taking time to make time. The more full my schedule, the more I pause.

Taking time to calm myself, to become aware of the present moment, and simply breathe has reduced the tension on the rubber band. This leaves me, and those in my life, without the ever-present fear of the band snapping.

Don’t wait until you feel like you’re going to explode. Begin now and see the difference you feel.

TOP is free, it’s portable, with no harmful side effects.

Try it! You might like it.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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