Doctor of Oriental Medicine, New York
Times-bestselling author of The Urban Monk
We all know that stress kills. In fact, it’s a major culprit in almost every chronic disease. One may have diabetes, but what about the emotional eating and the com - pounding effects of daily stress? Stress leads to death by a thousand cuts, and yet none of us learn how to manage it in childhood. So what happens when we do become aware of it?
We’ve likely pulled all-nighters, guzzled coffee and taken chill pills to cool our jets. Ninety-nine percent of all “stress management” techniques out there are designed to be healthy bandages to cover a poor operating system. They are natural techniques to re - place the pills we feel so guilty about popping. That’s a start, but breathing off a panic attack isn’t very useful (or effective). What about working to not get there in the first place? In medicine, there are trillions of dollars wasted on fixing diseases that could have been prevented in the first place. The same thing is happening with stress, so let’s look at a new view of this.
The way you manage your energy, time, commitments and attention has everything to do with your stress levels. If you let your fuse run short, you’re only one bad phone call away from a full meltdown. If you stack too many appointments in a given day, there’s no way you can “be here now” when you’ve given your word to be elsewhere soon. You simply can’t meditate that off. This calls for better boundaries and better time management. Why? Because it’ll prevent the crap and also help you build resilience into your day. I like to have people take five minutes to breathe and take care of them - selves every half hour. If this sounds like too much, then you’ve bitten a rotten apple and no wonder your life isn’t working out. Screw the machine... you only live once.
"The way you manage your energy, time, commitments and attention has everything to do with your stress levels. If you let your fuse run short, you’re only one bad phone call away from a full meltdown."
You need to take some breaths for YOU. Stretch, drink some water, get some sunshine and move your body. This is natural and necessary. Your desk is pulling you down. Stand up, walk around, get some fresh air, and yes, meditate. This is the time to catch your breath and build some peace in your day. Bank it. Fill the tank and earn a genuine smile on your face. That way, when the still river turns to white water, you are awake, engaged and ready for a crazy ride. Life will bring chaos. It’ll bring drama. It’ll bring really bad news and flat tires. That’s reality.
Your ability to navigate reality is predicated on your ability to keep yourself charged with positivity and energy. This doesn’t happen when you’re down. It happens in the everyday moments when you have the time and wherewithal to stop for a few critical breaths. The stress survival guide doesn’t look like gauze, iodine and aspirin in a first aid kit. It looks like a well-balanced day filled with little moments of tranquility and health that help you stay full. Learn to take five minutes every half hour and breathe deeply to your lower belly. I’ve helped Fortune 100 CEOs and elite athletes with this, so if you’re clinging to your crazy days, just know that if it worked for them, it’ll work for you. Let go and relax— you’ll actually get more done and be happy in the process.
Pedram is also the author of The Art of Stopping Time, host of The Urban Monk podcast and filmmaker of the documentary Prosperity. He is a Qigong Master and uses Eastern thinking and practices to help himself and others overcome the Westernized challenges of everyday life.