Have you ever noticed that certain times of the year manifest a sense of anxiety or tension within our souls? Birthdays? Holidays? Family gatherings? Even the change of seasons? The onset of fall, in particular, can bring about a sense of sadness or anxiety. The long summer days come to a dramatic halt and suddenly our calendars are filled with a long list of “to do’s”. September not only means trips to the cider mill on a crisp afternoon, but also a litany of sports events, parent teacher conferences, homework, and field trips. Even if you have no children or your children are grown and have left home, the fall season can trigger memories of our own childhood than can lead to anxiety. The fall season reminds us that all too soon the holidays and winter months will be upon us.
It is no wonder we feel stressed!
So often we rush through our day without noticing the drive to work or what we ate for lunch. We collapse into bed exhausted preparing to start the routine all over the next day. We dream of those long lazy days spent on warm sunny beaches. But did you know there is a solution to this feeling of “burn-out”? It is called mindfulness. Being mindful simply means paying attention. It means tuning out all of the noise even for a moment and focusing on the here and now. Even taking three slow, deep breaths at a stoplight can greatly reduce those feelings of anxiety and exhaustion.
Begin by taking a breath in as if you are inhaling a beautiful, fragrant bouquet of flowers. Fill your belly with air as if it were a big balloon. Hold the breath for three counts – one…two…three. Then exhale slowly as if you were blowing out a candle. Repeat this process three times each time you need a break and then notice how you feel afterwards. Is your heart beating a little slower? Are your shoulders a little less tense? Giving yourself a “time out” from the stress and anxiety of daily living can improve your mood, blood pressure, and even help you sleep better at night.
So the next time you find yourself wandering into the school supplies aisle or you are about to give that big presentation, pause and take time to breathe deeply. Enjoy the memories of a walking through a pile of crunchy leaves, the splendor of the fall colors, and yes, even the smell of a fresh box of crayons. Practice becoming a human “be-ing” and not a “human do-ing”. By Susan Orlando, LLPC, NCC