This article first appeared in the March/April 1996 issue.
1. Take a few minutes in the morning to be quiet and meditate sit or lie down and be with yourself . . . gaze out the window, listen to the sounds of nature or take a slow, quiet walk.
2. While your car is warming up, take a minute to quietly pay attention to your breathing.
3. While driving, become aware of body tension, e.g. hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, shoulders raised, stomach tight, etc. Consciously work at releasing, dissolving that tension. Does being tense help you drive better? What does it feel like to relax and drive?
4. Decide not to play the radio and be with yourself.
5. Stay in the right lane and go 55 miles per hour.
6. Pay attention to your breathing or to the sky, trees, etc. when stopped at a red light or a toll plaza.
7. After parking your car at your workplace, take a moment to orient yourself to your workday.
8. While sitting at your desk, keyboard, etc., monitor bodily sensations and tension levels, and consciously attempt to relax and let go of excess tension.
9. Use your breaks to truly relax rather than simply “pause.” For example, instead of having coffee and a cigarette, take a two-to-five-minute walk, or sit at your desk and recoup.
10. At lunch, changing your environment can be helpful.
11. Or, try closing the door (if you have one) and take some time to consciously relax.
12. Decide to “stop” for one to three minutes every hour during the workday. Become aware of your breathing and bodily sensations. Use it as a time to regroup and recoup.
13. Use the everyday cues in your environment as reminders to “center” yourself, e.g., the telephone ringing, turning on the computer, etc.
14. Take some time at lunch or break to share with dose associates. Choose topics not necessarily work related.
15. Choose to eat one or two lunches per week in silence. Use it as a time to eat slowly and be with yourself.
16. At the end of the workday, retrace your activities of the day, acknowledging and congratulating yourself for what you’ve accomplished and make a list for tomorrow.
17. Pay attention to the short walk to your car, breathing the crisp air. The feeling of the cold or warmth of your body, try to accept it rather than resist it. Listen to the sounds outside the office. Can you walk without feeling rushed?
18. While your car is warming up, sit quietly, and consciously make the transition from work to home. Take a moment to simply be. Enjoy it for a moment. Like most of us. you’re heading into your next full-time job: home!
19. While driving, notice if you are rushing. What does this feel like? What could you do about it? Remember, you’ve got more control than you can imagine.
20. When you pull into the driveway or park on the street, take a minute to come back to the present. Orient yourself to being with your family or household members.
21. Change out of work clothes when you get home: it helps you to make a smoother transition into your next “role.” You can spare the five minutes to do this. Say hello to each of the family members. Center yourself at home. If possible, make the time to take five to ten minutes to be quiet and still.
Saki Santorelli. Ed.D., is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and Educational Programs for the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society.