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The Power of Taking Five

It’s easy to get caught up in a sense of urgency when working, meeting deadlines, or just trying to get things done. Making things just right, striving for perfection, can be all-consuming. Without even realizing it, we can become tense in our bodies as our minds strive for success or work towards completing a task. Though it might not be as serious as wrestling a bear, the same parts of our nervous system can get activated during the stress of the day. Stiff neck and shoulders, tight, clenched jaw, leaning forward and hunching, lack of appetite, are signs of how our bodies can hold the stress of the moment.

(Too often, just beneath our conscious awareness, this sense of urgency can be fueled by underlying fears or beliefs of failure, unworthiness, self-doubt. Survival can also be about belonging, being liked, being seen as capable and competent, and early experiences of not having these basic needs met can linger in our very viscera and get activated by daily stressors. The need to be good enough, or better than good enough sometimes unconsciously drives us, because we are striving to belong, even if on the surface we don’t actively fixate on whether or not we are good enough. These beliefs and survival strategies are a part of us until we bring conscious awareness to them and transform them with our awareness and compassion.)

The irony is that taking breaks throughout the day supports getting the work done, and is more supportive to your overall health than to double down and work through lunch. Taking breaks supports rest and restoration, and allows for new insights and inspiration to arise. It also helps with being able to unwind and actually get quality sleep later in the evening.

Taking even just 2-5 minutes in your day to pause, and notice the here-and-now through your senses, can have a transformational impact on your mood or outlook, and provide your body-mind some moments of nourishing moments rest.

Some ideas to try:

  • Take a few minutes to go outside and look around. Hear what you hear. Smell what you smell. Feel the wind and temperature outside. Shift your weight slowly from side to side. See what it is like to look around you, behind you, above you. Let your senses take in your surroundings.


  • Sit comfortably and take a look around your room. Or look out the window. See what you see. Really look around, using your eyes and turning your head, torso, even looking behind you. Notice textures, colors, objects that bring a sense of joy or delight when you look at them. Notice what you feel on the inside, if anything, as you slow down and notice your surroundings.


  • Enjoy a cup of tea or a cool beverage. Even before you take that first sip, slow it down a bit. Feel the glass or mug in your hands. See if you can smell whatever it is your drinking before you sip. When you do take that first sip, see if you can notice that first moment of contact with the liquid reaches your mouth. Taste as if it was the only thing in your awareness. See if you can keep your attention on the liquid as it travels from mouth, moving down your throat, into your belly. Notice what it is like to experience the beverage.

Whatever you decide to do, try to do it with your full attention. Look around at your surroundings- notice the time of day, the temperature, the sounds and sights around you. Feel the warmth of the sun, or the breeze of the night air. You may notice thoughts such as “I’ve got to get this done!”, or, “There’s so much to do, I don’t know if I’ll ever finish!” can become replaced with observations of the blessings that surround you, a sense of possibility, and sometimes, a sense that it is possible to let enough be enough.

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