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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 27, 2017

Remember that time you had a fun, relaxing, and restorative break, and then returned to your real life and immediately felt stressed?  That drastic change is a challenge for so many, but what if I told you that you possess an incredibly powerful tool that if harnessed effectively, could help you reduce that stress, and significantly improve your productivity and daily happiness?

We often allow our mind to run wild with our fears, stressors, and natural reactions, and we don’t even realize that many times these are just thoughts, and the stress is simply coming from thinking about what could happen, and not what is happening.  The good news is that we all have the power to ease these difficult moments with the help of just our breath.

This simple concept is known as meditation, and before you jump to conclusions about what meditation looks like or why it’s not for you, I challenge you to keep an open mind and try it out with a few of the resources below.  Meditation is simply the practice of focusing the mind on the breath, and then when the mind wanders, and it always will, gently bringing the focus back to the breath.  This practice leads to more mindful moments, which allow you to create space in your mind to analyze and understand the feelings in front of you, deal with them, and then return to your responsibilities with more clarity.

So here is your resolution for 2017:  Just Breathe.

This idea is incredibly simple, and often times the best solutions to our problems are found in the simplest of answers.  We are constantly receiving input from our surroundings and listening to others speak, which can lead to stressful moments, but how often do we stop and take time to listen to ourselves?  Your breath is a constant that is always with you, and it doesn’t cost a thing or take any effort.  The only effort needed to make this resolution work is to practice recognizing when you need to take a step back, breathe, and think about why you’re experiencing the negative thought or emotion.  Taking just five minutes to try a simple guided meditation will allow you to hear how loud your inner monologue can be, and with practice, you will start to recognize and control your thoughts more effectively.

So next time you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed, angry, or in a spiral of negative thoughts, just breathe! Remind yourself to rule your mind, or it will rule you.  I wish you the best in your pursuit of a more present lifestyle.

Here are the resources that helped me learn about mindfulness and how to practice meditation:

*10% Happier (Book, App, Podcast): Awesome book for “fidgety skeptics,” plenty of free content on the app, and weekly podcasts interviewing prominent people who meditate.

*Headspace (App): Free 10-day, 10-step trial with guided meditations