Take a moment and breathe.

What are you grateful for today?

If you can’t think of anything, how about that breath you took? 😉

Anyone who has called me and gotten my voicemail knows that this is my outgoing greeting. Some people are even disappointed when I pick up the phone (gee, thanks ☺ ) and ask me to hang up so they can call back and hear my greeting.

I recorded it to give you the “permission” you may need to take a breather.

How often do you find yourself on autopilot, not taking or giving yourself a break? If you don’t listen to your body’s cues sooner or later, trust me, it will make you take one, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our society is obsessed with productivity. We only see the “yang” expressions of productivity–doing, doing, doing–as actually contributing to “getting things done.” You may feel you need to suck it up and “power through” that work piling up on your desk. Sleep and breaks and even breakfast are considered to be for “mere mortals.”

But what about the yin side of productivity? What about rest? Relaxation?

Sometimes the best thing we can DO is nothing. Rest and relaxation can be very productive.

According to a poll taken last year, 41% of Americans said they did not take single vacation day in 2015. Many working Americans do not even have the luxury of paid vacation days, but even if they did, I suspect that some of them would be so entrenched in work mode that they would have a hard time shifting gears to actually relax. Clearly, relaxation is not a priority, but it needs to be.

As I have learned from Lissa Rankin’s book, Mind Over Medicine, relaxation does more than give you a pause during your workday. Being in a mode of relaxation actually promotes your body’s production of healing and mood-enhancing hormones. When you relax, even for just a few minutes, you are setting the stage for disease resistance and reversal.

While in a state of relaxation, you are also slowing down or stopping the momentum of stressful thoughts that can adversely affect your health. Taking a few deep breaths helps you shift out of limiting thoughts and into a perspective where ideas and solutions flow more easily.

You don’t have to spend a day at the spa to relax (although that is likely to do wonders for your physical and emotional wellbeing). R&R doesn’t need to cost a thing, but making the choice not to rest and relax may be very costly to your health in the long run.

I recently had a client who was suffering with severe heart palpitations and undergoing tests to discover the cause. She came to me to help relieve her anxiety, but as we talked, she admitted she knew exactly what the problem was. After eighteen years at the same job she recently got a new boss and a transfer to a new department. She found the new position extremely stressful and didn’t like the job one bit. I believed she had options, but she didn’t see it that way. She had two years left to get a higher pension, so she wasn’t about to leave, nor could her boss fire her. Would she consider talking to him? No. She was afraid of confrontation. – I hear that a lot, but I think people are “afraid of conversation.” Her heart was telling her it wasn’t happy. She was not listening. Is all that stress worth it?

Your mind will lie, but your body never does.

So just take a moment, and breathe. (Go ahead, do it right now.) Notice how your body feels. One more time. Breathe. Give your body that well deserved break.

Once you do that and shift into a more relaxed and receptive state, you may find that the part of you with higher awareness can take over from there, steering you into making more and more empowering choices. Just one breath can change your entire direction for the day and ALSO give you just the moment of relaxation you need to allow your body’s natural healing functions to resume.

You may or may not have a paid vacation, but you do have your breath and one quick moment. Let me know how it goes for you!

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