The New York Times (NYT) kicked off 2024 with a 6-Day Energy Challenge that focused on small, science-backed ways to feel better. The first exercise was daytime rest—5-minutes of “wakeful relaxation” to restore attention, reduce fatigue, increase vitality, elevate wellbeing, and improve mood. Sound familiar? Yep, this is my jam.
I teach folks how to reclaim ease in tiny doses—little, voluntary slowdowns that spark positive change in our brains and bodies. Science has always backed me up, and I’m happy to have NYT along for the ride.
In January, tradition tells us it’s time for a hard resolution. What about a soft intention, instead? This first month of the year, let’s chart a more sustainable pattern of living.
Will you commit to tilting toward ease in 2024? What if it only takes 5-minutes a day?
I know your life is full. I’m right here with you…navigating midlife, work, young kids, aging parents, stress, and wellness. Space and time may feel just out of reach.
Like Brené Brown, I’m a mapmaker and fellow traveller. These two roles have inspired me to curate decades of mind-body research, practice, and teachings into a “go small and show up” approach to wellbeing.
I’ve distilled a lifelong journey into a little-and-often path to reclaiming ease, and I’m here to tell you it’s the real deal…because I’m not only the Ease Club president, but I’m also a client ;-).
Why not get started with your new intention today? Play with these suggestions from Dr. Sue Varma, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine (below is an excerpt from NYT).
Take an Oasis Moment
Find five minutes.
First, figure out when you can take a five-minute break—long enough for you to feel refreshed…but brief enough that you can actually fit it in. Dr. Varma recommends doing it before your energy levels dip. It might seem counterintuitive, but research suggests that rest can be more effective at restoring your energy when it’s taken before you are tired, as opposed to after.
Seek out a calming spot.
Mute your phone or leave it in another room. If you’re home, find a quiet place that’s comfortable for sitting, Dr. Varma said. If you’re at work, scout out a relatively peaceful location — a seat in the cafeteria or break room, a bench outside, or even your car if you drive to work.
The setting is less important than your intention to take a few minutes for yourself, she added.
Experiment with “wakeful relaxation.”
Take some slow, deep breaths. Doing this for five minutes can help you feel less depleted.
This should not be confused with meditation, Dr. Varma said. An oasis moment isn’t rigid. Aim for a state of what she calls “wakeful relaxation”—you should feel calmer but still alert. Try to quiet your mind, but don’t strive to zone out. You can even listen to your favorite songs while you take your break.
Notice how you feel. Are you a little more refreshed? Taking this break, Dr. Varma added, might also give you a sense of mastery and control. “You’ve made space and time for something that’s beneficial,” she said. “And you feel like you’ve achieved something for the day, similar to making your bed.”
Rest is a “highly therapeutic, untapped resource,” and the positive effects can build over time, Dr. Varma said.