The 5-Minute Oasis

As I turn left onto Highway 44 driving from Palo Cedro into Redding, a woman is on my car's tail. She swerves right and left behind me, as if in a NASCAR race trying to pass me. I take a deep breath and merge to the right. I am no slow poke on the road, but "Mario Andretti" obviously had places to go and people to see.

As I observe this kind of road hazard on wheels, I think of a quote my local barista said to me as I picked up my coffee, "Tamara, I have never seen someone with road rage who just left a yoga class."

I smile at the thought. It's true. After some time relaxing and breathing we feel renewed. But how do we find this solace when we can't afford to attend such a therapeutic leisure or simply (especially during the holidays) can't seem to find the time?

I call it "The 5 Minute Oasis."

Think of the last time when you were frazzled. I mean, late for work after changing a poopy diaper, stain on your shirt, heart beating in your chest, palms sweaty. Got it? Ok, how did you feel in that moment? Hurried, rushed, fearful that your client may be angry with you for your tardiness? This is when you take your oasis.

Excuse yourself to the restroom. If you are at home, go to your room. Sit still, close your eyes, BREATHE. Breathe like a baby does, into your abdomen. On the inhale your belly rises, on the exhale your belly falls. Get into a rhythm with this breath. Then, go to YOUR favorite place in your mind. Anywhere that is your peaceful spot. For me, this is Kona, Hawaii. See the details: the ocean, blue at sunset with gorgeous tones of bright pink and orange. Hear the sounds: ocean waves crashing, Ukulele music in the restaurant in the distance. Feel your heart calming, the beads of sweat from your palms evaporating. Breathe more, being grateful for this moment of solace, and then slowly... open your eyes.

You're back in your bathroom stall, or bedroom, or car in the parking lot, but NOW how do you feel? I am certain that you will feel more relaxed. In this relaxed - or at least somewhat calmer state - we make more rational decisions, we speak from our hearts, and we do not forget where we left our keys.

I have worked with all kinds of people over the past 12 years, and whether they are battling an addiction, an inflammation disorder, moodiness, or high blood pressure (to name a few), the trigger is the same: too much stress leaves our bodies in a state of upheaval, and in our physiology's need to find balance we reach for unhealthy foods, or live with unhealthy emotions.

I have come to realize that there are three kinds of stressors: those we can control (eg. to-do lists), those that we cannot (e.g. loss of job due to economy), and those that we put upon ourselves because we know it will benefit us in some way (e.g. strength training). When we have loads of stressors from all three categories our bodies begin to break down at the point of least resistance. This is very common during these winter months when we place high demands on ourselves.

So next time you find yourself caught in a windfall of stressors, no matter what the cause, and you feel frazzled to the max, before getting in your car and driving with aggression to get to your destination, take a "5 Minute Oasis." Your body will thank you, and so will I.