Dr. Susanna La
Do You Have a Minute?
Updated: Mar 31
In the busyness that is life, we do not always have time for rest. Some of us are on the go from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. We also live in a culture that tends to reward the "hustle and grind" culture. Unfortunately, this mentality of constantly going makes us vulnerable to chronic stress, lack of life enjoyment, burnout, and many other health issues.
If you find yourself often feeling tired, that may be your mind's and body’s way of telling you that you need a break. This blog is dedicated to the caretakers, hard workers, and high achievers.
While you may not be able to spare an hour or a few days for the self-care you want and/or need (you can read more about self-care here), it may be more realistic to take brief 1-minute breaks throughout the day. You may be thinking: how life changing can a 1-minute break be? If you have waited at a red light or for food to heat up in the microwave, 1 minute can seem like a long time. That is because a lot can actually happen during 1 minute.
Additionally, it is the quality of the minute that can make a difference in how the time feels. Consider the difference between a minute of mindless scrolling on social media compared to a minute of mindfully looking at the sky while the sun sets.
Mindlessness vs. Mindfulness
Mindlessness is when we go on autopilot, stop paying attention to our inner world (thoughts/feelings) and outer world (our environment around us), and react to situations automatically. A lot of times, our suffering can come from being disconnected from ourselves/others for too long. Mindfulness is the opposite and is when we intentionally pay attention to what is happening in the here-and-now. When we are mindful, we can look at ourselves/our situation more objectively and with more wisdom to choose how we want to respond. You can read more about mindfulness here.
1-Minute Mindfulness Exercises
If we can give ourselves just a moment, it can be the reset we need. These mindfulness exercises can be practiced anytime that is convenient for you and will only require 1 minute of your time:
Take a sip of your favorite drink like a cup of hot tea or coffee and take a deep breath. Repeat this a few times as you take time to notice the taste of your drink and how it feels to breathe deeply after.
You may notice tension/tightness in certain areas of your body like your neck and shoulder. Focusing on stretching can help you loosen up those areas.
Close your eyes and pay attention to any thoughts/sensations you may be having. Or if you prefer an outward focus, pay attention to any sounds you are hearing.
Look outside your window and see if you notice something you haven’t noticed before.
Take a brief pause during transitions. For example, after driving, you can take a moment for yourself in the car.
Give yourself a little pep talk. Perhaps you are having a difficult time with something, and you’re just trying to get through the day.
Journal. Use this time to brain dump some worries you may be having. You can also use this time to write about something or someone you are grateful for.
Do a formal meditation. You can find 1-minute meditations on Youtube or the Calm app. For example, this is a 1-minute meditation here.
Do a brief breathing exercise you enjoy. You can try the 4x4 breathing, which is when you inhale 4 seconds, hold for 4, exhale for 4 seconds, and hold for 4.
You can use the STOP technique anytime you want to take a brief pause. This can be helpful during an argument, before an anxiety-provoking situation, or whenever you are noticing intense/overwhelming thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
Take a breath or a few breaths
Observe what is happening
Proceed by focusing on one thing at a time
Though these exercises take 1 minute of your time, the lasting effects can be much longer. By prioritizing you and taking a much needed break, you are changing the relationship you have with yourself. You may also practice these exercises several times a day as a way to reduce your stress and to make the most of your valuable time.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness practices to support your mental health, you can reach out to us here.
Stay tuned. The next topic is "Am I Codependent?"
Written by Susanna La, Ph.D.
Edited by Elena Duong, Psy.D.