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Control Your Thinking, Control Your Life

Do you ever feel like you're not in control of your life? Or that so many things are coming at you from all directions that it's hard to focus?

Life can be messy! With the demands upon us, it can feel like we are simply reacting to the next thing that comes our way instead of living a more intentional life. Work, family, children, even hobbies begin to feel like items on an endless to-do list instead of joyful moments. Yet, there is something that can help: taking mindfulness breaks.

Before you dismiss this idea, consider that scientists now know that exercising your mind and spirit is as important as exercising your body. We have to take care of ourselves beyond just our physical selves. Meditation is one way to care for our mind and spirit, yet many people still resist the idea of sitting still for even three minutes!

I am a huge fan (and teacher) of meditation, yet I am also well versed in the excuses. Mindfulness breaks are easy to incorporate into the little moments of daily life - while driving, cooking, or even brushing your teeth. No need to stop and sit, just take a break right where you are.

Here's how it works. Let's say you are driving to work, and the rain is making your commute more frustrating than usual. Incorporate a mindfulness break by putting on a great song and taking five deep breaths in and out. Yes, it's that easy. The music connects you to something you enjoy, and the breathwork is proven to lower your stress levels and ground you.

The defining characteristic of a mindfulness break is that you take control and shift to something good for your mind and spirit - like music and breathing deeply. For even a few moments, your focus is no longer on the commute and is instead on something positive.

Science also reminds us that we can't truly focus on more than one thought at a time. What we call "multitasking" is really our minds bouncing from one subject to another, sometimes so quickly that it seems like we are thinking about multiple things at one time. When we take a mindfulness break, we are choosing our point of focus and choosing something good for us.

Other ideas for mindfulness breaks include walking the dog, playing with your children, enjoying a hot bath, cooking a meal thoughtfully, gardening, or even taking a walk between meetings at work. As you can see, these aren't complicated; they just require that you be present in the activity and add some deep breaths to maintain your focus. It really is that simple.

For their simplicity, mindfulness breaks can have a huge impact not only on our stress levels but also on our ability to focus and to recommit to the task at hand. Taking time to regroup and be present stops your mind from topic-hopping. It allows you to reset so you can be more productive and less reactive.

Making mindfulness breaks a regular part of your day will also have cumulative benefits. Begin by setting a few alarms on your phone to remind you to take a break. After a while, you will look forward to these moments and find that you are taking them without needing to be prompted.

I've heard it said, "When you gain control of your thinking, you gain control of your career, your relationships, and your life." Let mindfulness breaks be your first step in acquiring this control!


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