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Spring Break Makeover for the Mind

With the new season comes new opportunity to do some mental spring cleaning

Second Tip: Protect Yourself From 'Energy Vampires' continued...

The Drama Queen can wear you out, she says, with the daily performances. The Sob Sister is constantly airing grievances. The Constant Talker requires your constant listening. And The Blamer is always criticizing you or the people around you.

"You need to learn to set boundaries," Orloff says. "Listen for awhile, then break off the interchange. People are so afraid to do this. They don't want to seem impolite. You need to be firm, though kind."

The same goes for technology, which can be an overwhelming stressor. "People go into despair when their computer breaks (or they forget their cell phone for a day).

"Don't let your computer hypnotize you. Get outside, at least look outside!"

Orloff does three-minute meditations throughout the day. "I have a busy life, but I like to have a busy life coming from a centered place," she says. For three minutes, close your door, turn off the phone, close your eyes, then:

  • Take deep breaths, focusing on your breath as it goes in and out.
  • If thoughts come, watch them waft across your mind like clouds in the sky.
  • Bring yourself back to your breathing.
  • Then think about a beautiful image, a flower, a child's face; look at every detail.
  • Then, gradually, breathe faster and open your eyes.

Irwin also recommends meditation as well as laughter, tai chi, and yoga.

A lunch time walk, more frequent trips to the gym -- those are good, too. You can even program a break into your schedule.

But all of these take more than three minutes, so close your eyes.

Fourth Tip: Distract Yourself

"Distraction is like mental calisthenics," Manning Rubin, author of 60 Ways to Relieve Stress in 60 Seconds and Keep your Brain Alive, tells WebMD. "You do anything you can to stop and do something different for 60 seconds."

Before Post-Its were invented, Rubin says, he had notes around that said "STOP."

So STOP and pick one:

  • Get up and walk to the window, count 10 things you see outside.
  • Close eyes and let a wave of relaxation crawl from head to foot.
  • Take 30 sips of water, no more, no less.
  • Picture your living room and write down the contents.
  • Balance a book on your head and walk around for one minute.

The key, Rubin says, is to stop the stress from taking over. Oh, and to relax!

Reviewed on April 22, 2005

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