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I recently called my daughter to see how she was doing after her first week of school at UCLA. She has been carefully plotting her health strategies for this busy semester, everything from keeping fresh veggies in small mason jars in her dorm room to signing up for an early morning yoga class on campus. She even bought a locker at the fitness center so she would have to go through the gym to get her books as an added incentive to stay and work out after classes.

After her first week, I asked her about her yoga classes. “I’m way too crazy busy to do yoga right now, mom!” she replied, without irony.

When we make time to practice stress management each day, the day will open up in ways we might not have imagined.

After a long pause, we both started laughing. The funniest part for me is that I hear this phrase regularly from people who are desperately trying to find peace in their lives. With all our good intentions, when the rubber hits the road, yoga and stress management are the first to go.

The idea of trying to make time for sitting still seems counterintuitive when are lives are filled to the brim. It’s like trying to take a swimming lesson when we are drowning. Learning to swim takes skill and practice, but little by little it clicks in. And when the time comes that we need it, it’s there for us. We can gracefully swim ashore.

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In the same way, a regularly scheduled time for stress management and yoga can give us the tools we need when we need them. Practice is preparation for when we need it. That is why we call it practice. When we make time to practice stress management each day, the day will open up in ways we might not have imagined. We become more organized internally and externally with a greater sense of clarity and direction.There is an old Zen saying: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

If we are practicing stress management everyday, when we find ourselves in a tight spot, feeling stressed or overwhelmed, taking a few long slow breaths or sitting quietly for just a couple minutes reconnects us to our daily practice and the foundation of peace we have cultivated for ourselves over time.

People often asked me how they can fit stress management/yoga practices into their busy lives. I always lovingly say, “You can’t. You have to fit your life into your stress management practices and then everything will fall into place.”

What’s one step you can take today to begin to empower your well-being by organizing your life around the awareness of managing the stress in your life?

Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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