Taking time to center in a frenzied world

Breath. Fresh air. Green space. Movement. Center. Stretch. Appreciate. Inspire. Exhale. Absorb. Smile. Breathe.

How do you integrate these actions, objects and ideas into your life? Are they essential or forgotten?

Think about the days that you take a bit of time for yourself. Don’t you feel more energized, empowered and productive when you allow yourself time to move and breathe? Whether it’s a 5 minute walk at lunchtime, 10 deep breaths before a big meeting or a mid-day yoga class; I have found that self-care is essential to my effectiveness as a communicator, program director and person.

With the Tour Kick-off approaching, my life usually feels as though it is picking up pace at a practically exponential rate. Sometimes I don’t know how I can fit my entire to-do list into the day – and lots of times I simply can’t finish it all. However, I have noted with interest that as my schedule becomes increasingly more hectic, scheduling a few minutes of ‘Sara time’ becomes more of a priority. I am happier, more productive and have a more clear mind when I take time to center myself through breath, engage in physical activity or spend time near green space.

Some days I’m lucky. For example on Friday I managed to squeeze in a substantial afternoon mountain bike ride – my energy level was at rock-bottom but after spinning for a few hours I felt like it was the start of a brand-new day. Granted, I had to work late to make up for lost time, but I guarantee that the work that I produced in the evening was of much higher quality than if I been forced to drag myself through the afternoon.

Such are the perks of working for ones self, I know. However, self-care doesn’t have to be a full mid-day workout. Actions as simple as standing up, a walk around the block or a quick stretch can help your energy and mind tremendously. I won’t throw a bunch of science at you, but needless to say, research supports my statements. (You can read more about short bouts of physical activity and wellness in this review article.)

I realize that often even a walk outside isn’t possible. Long conference days, toting kids around from activity to activity and life in general get in the way. I would just like to remind you that regardless of your location, you can always take time to breathe.

Bikes & beets in Bozeman

I was headed to the home of 4 college students. I expected frozen pizzas and ramen. Imagine my surprise when I opened the cupboards to find yams and beets instead!

I am in Bozeman, Montana helping out a friend and former athlete of mine who recently underwent surgery. She had simply told me that she lived with three of her male friends, so I braced myself for a house resembling a carpet-lined recycling bin containing a table, a broken down couch and a fine selection of condiments and prepackaged food.

It turns out that my preconceived notions of college life in this household were utterly backwards. These kids have got it together. The crew consists of an aspiring bike frame builder, a budding horticulturist interested in urban agriculture, a charismatic poly-sci major and an exercise scientist studying health promotion. And though they still eat on a college budget, their meals are wholesome and well-balanced. I’ve observed roasted beets, whole wheat scones, lots of hummus, tofu scrambles and oatmeal all being consumed on a routine basis.

These students are obviously conscious about their diets and physical activity is a part of their daily life as well. Cycling or walking are the preferred modes of transportation and one of the kids even commutes on a bike that he personally welded. In fact, if no bike sponsors come through for the Tour, I may just solicit this young guy to create a custom touring frame for me. How great would it be if I rode a bike created by youth on a bike tour aimed at inspiring youth to get involved? I am truly quite excited about the idea.

Staying with these guys has given me a glimpse into the next generation of healthy living leaders. I will leave Montana reenergized and optimistic about the success of the Tour, the health of the next generation and the future of each of these 4 fantastic students. I might even leave them a few bucks to fix that broken down couch, too. 🙂

Stefan’s super sweet hand-built ride:

Fast, cheap and healthy eats:

Boing! Still a college house in certain regards: