Think back to the last day you didn’t make a to-do list. Are you at a loss? If so, you are like most women: perpetually busy and often stressed.
“Stress is an issue for women; they are struggling with more than one career,” says Dr. Deepak Chopra, world-renown author, internal medicine specialist and teacher of meditation and wellbeing techniques. “Motherhood is a profession and many women are forced to have another career on top of it.”
But life doesn’t need to be stressful, he says. It is all in how you handle it. Chopra gives the example of ocean waves. “If you are a skilled surfer, every wave could be a joy. If you are not prepared, every wave could be a disaster,” he says.
Here are Chopra’s top three tips for handing the stresses (or waves) in your life.
1. Focus on one thing at a time
Our conscious brain isn’t able to multi-task, says Chopra. It is only our automatic nervous system that can do multiple things at once – equalize hormone levels, pump blood to the heart, stabilize blood pressure, etc.
“If, right now, you are talking to me and checking your iPhone at the same time, you are really doing neither,” he says.
As an everyday technique for reducing stress, Chopra divides his days into buckets: sleep time, exercise time, family time, work time, play time, meditation time and so on. From there, he dedicates himself to only one task at once. Feelings of stress surface when you think of everything you need to do – a way of living that disrupts your psychology. Instead, focus on one thing only. Then move on.
In order to live “mindfully and consciously,” says Chopra, humans need to take time to STOP. He uses the word as an acronym – S: stop what you are doing, T: take a few deep breaths, O: observe your body and smile, P: proceed with kindness and compassion.
“Even if the phone rings, don’t pick it up right away,” he advises. “Stop, take a few deep breaths and proceed with kindness and compassion. The person on the other line will feel it.”
3. Take 20 minutes for yourself
For many of us, the word meditation fills our minds with self-deprecating questions like, “What if I can’t relax?” and, “What if I’m not doing it right?” Chopra answers these concerns by suggesting women sit quietly, without an agenda, for 15 or 20 minutes.
He says, “Your mind will get restless in that time, but after a while it will quiet down and you will relax.”
Katie Morell is passionate about issues relating to women’s health and wellness. As a runner and yoga practitioner, she tries to live by the advice given in her Go Red pieces. When not lacing up her sneakers or doing a downward-facing dog, she is writing for a variety of publications including Hemispheres, USA Today, Consumer’s Digest and The Writer.