Stress-Management/Quiet Time

Americans are physically, socially, and mentally stimulated almost all of the time. It is increasingly difficult to find time to be alone. Lunch hour has turned into catch-up. Midmorning breaks are nonexistent.

Cellular phones, megachurches, pagers, and fax machines are a bane to quiet time. Information provides tools to improve your life. Role models spur you on. Networking enhances your communication. Training makes you better. But you need privacy to figure it all out. Give yourself a few moments to gain perspective. After an hour in a sensory deprivation tank, subjects experienced lower blood pressure, improved creativity, a more positive outlook, and higher mental functioning. Solitude allows you to get organized. Creative youngsters cherish their time alone. My 8 year old boy spends several hours a week interacting with imaginary characters. At first, I thought this was peculiar. Now I understand that personal moments are a vital ingredient to enhanced creativity. Being alone doesn't mean you are lonely. Eating lunch in the corner of a crowded cafeteria can be demoralizing. But it does not have to be. It depends on your attitude. Read, write a letter, or be mindful of your meal. Some people think you are antisocial if you are unaccompanied. But there are socially acceptable methods of isolation. Fishing, hunting, playing a musical instrument, walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling are a few.

Aquajogging is the latest fitness mind/body sensation. Close the door to your office and meditate or pray. In Japan there are places set aside specifically for people to unwind. Some folks ultimately "say no" to crowded offices and harried lifestyles.

For sanity's sake, they give up lucrative careers to pursue self employment, or a more relaxed profession. Discussions with friends and co-workers is helpful. And so are television and computer games. But a few moments of quiet contemplation can do wonders. Martial artists focus their chi. Zen masters contemplate koans. Thoreau circumambulated Walden's Pond.

Use solitary moments to provide insight. Deepak Chopra stated, "you are those moments between your thoughts." Value personal time to discover who you are. Become sensitive to your thoughts, actions, and behaviors. After a hard day, when you open your front door, instead of being barraged by an inquisitive spouse, ask for 10 minutes. Sit down. Relax. Prioritize. Flip on your answer machine. What phone call could be more important than finding sanity? Pamper yourself. Listen to music, meditate, or pray. Detachment is an end in itself. Get in touch. Your whole family will benefit if you allow a few moments to debrief.

Sit down alone. Be by yourself. Uninterrupted minutes allow you to readjust. Order your priorities and pay attention to your needs. Solitude provides rest and delivers energy unimagined.

Recently we built a house in the woods. This is the first time I have lived outside of the city limits. Staring out of my window is truly relaxing. I cannot envision living in a crowded city.