It's early morning. You're lying comfortably in your bed and are awakened by the glimpse of sunshine peaking through your window.
As you hear the birds chirping outside you think: "I feel so rested and am completely ready to face the day". Does this sound like you? If so, you are in the minority.
Many people are awakened by the disturbing sound of their alarm clock instantly sending them into "fight or flight" mode followed by a rush of thoughts about the day's to-do lists all before their feet hit the floor.
It's estimated that we have between 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day. That's 2,000 to 4,000 thoughts before we've finished our breakfast. No wonder people have trouble relaxing, there's too much to think about!
This month, I encourage you to slow down. Even for just a moment. Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital studied the effects of participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program.
They found that people who reported less stress due to the program also had a significant decrease in the density of their amygdala on MR images; a part of the brain that is associated with anxiety and stress.
It's time to shift your focus. Take time for you and give your brain a break! Each day for five to ten minutes sit in a quiet room and be still.
Everyone can meditate and there's no right or wrong way to do it. It doesn't have to be a battle between you and your thoughts. Let them come in and out naturally. Sitting with your feet on the floor, become aware of your body.
Wiggle your toes around and take long deep breaths in and out through your nose. With each breath you will become more relaxed.
So, this month: breathe, relax, and most of all - slow down!
For an example of a meditation exercise, download a pdf here.