Take a minute right now and do nothing! When I suggest this radical idea in training or coaching sessions, I am met with disbelief and discomfort. If I actually get people to spend a (timed) minute being still and doing nothing, they find this really hard to do and resist it.
Yet spending just one minute – 60 seconds – in silence, perhaps breathing deeply from your belly is sufficient to recharge and to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and thereby regulating stress.
If you practice this regularly, you are strengthening your vagus nerve, tapping into calm and being in a grounded state.
Breathing deeply from your belly boosts oxygen to the brain and have a rapid effect on our nervous system via the vagus nerve (this nerve links the brain to the gut). The more this kind of practice is repeated, the great the benefits.
So how about taking just a minute:
- Before a meeting you are running. A minute to breathe, bring yourself into the present and connect with people in the room and the outcomes you want to achieve.
- When you receive an email or WhatsApp message. We generally rush to respond but if that email requires a little thought and reflection? Taking a minute means you are less likely to misinterpret its message and more likely to write a better reply (or perhaps, not even reply at all!)
- When you wake up in the morning. Start your day with a recharge and create a little space before the microstressors of work, news, emails kick in.
- Before you go to sleep. A great breathing technique to practice is 3-4-5 breathing where you breathe in for 3, hold for 4 and breathe out for 5 instantly calming any anxious thoughts and setting you up for a good night’s sleep.
- As a micro-break. Working long hours? Got a busy day? Boost energy by taking micro-breaks of one minute between meetings and tasks. This will make a huge difference to your productivity levels.
Taking just one minute is easy and you can make this into a regular habit – you’ll feel so good that you will want to anyway! And then perhaps build up to five or even ten minute practices and notice the difference this makes.