by Natasha Nuñez
Calm sea, clear sky, smooth sailing ahead. You feel at ease, attuned to your surroundings. Suddenly, a familiar thunder rumbles from a distance, and the path ahead becomes heavy with fog; an emotional storm is brewing. Is it a passing cloud or natural disaster, and how long will this thing last?
Navigating unexpected waves of disruption, big or small, can sometimes cause intense pangs of anger, anxiety, fear, and frustration. Life’s unpredictable climate demands extreme flexibility and our outlook greatly affects the way we either flow, or flail through rough waters.When we exercise our human capacity and resilience through a workout, or meditation, we train the mind to change the way we react to stress when uncertainty strikes. Here are 4 easy techniques that'll boost your mood within 15 minutes.
1. Stop, Drop, and Breathe
Store all smart devices out of sight for fifteen minutes. If you can, give thirty wholesome minutes of undivided attention to the present. Check in with your body and breathe. Inhale and exhale a few strong, mindful breaths, feeling each one more deeply than the last.
Let's never forget nature. Simply seeing trees calms the mind and improves our attention, plus half of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Half! An Australian study found that people had higher serotonin levels on bright sunny days than on cloudy ones, no matter how hot or cold the day was. Be one with the sun. (Also: use SPF).
2. Practice Gratitude
Name five people, places, or things you’re grateful for. Write them down or say them out loud, and visualize each one. Start with the basics. If this list makes you feel good, name five more, and so on. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are and overlook things like clean water or a nourishing meal.
Oxygen goes in, and tension moves out. Meditation triggers restorative relaxation. We are wired to react strongly to “bad” things and we, much like computers, need a reboot. Meditation also affects the way the mind reacts to future stressors. There are many different types of meditation, as well as apps and YouTube videos that help guide all sorts of practices. It’s really about finding what works best for you. 'Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity' by David Lynch is an uplifting and easy read if you're looking for a fresh entry point.
A little goes a long way. A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests as little as one hour of exercise a week may help prevent depression. Entering a state of flow, regardless of the activity, engages and challenges the mind and body to focus on the immediate present. Hold a plank for one minute; alternate a few rounds of push-ups, sit-ups, squats—whatever gets the blood pumping.