Feeling a little burnt out? Run down? Overwhelmed? It's time to put yourself first! Any one of these six things works like magic to bring you back home to yourself. Dance
There was an unhappy marriage. The woman, in her mid-60s, was feeling sad and low. One afternoon her grandson, just 4 and unaware of her problems, had an uncontrollable urge to dance, which for him meant flapping his arms and churning his legs in such a way as to appear as if he were hopping madly around on a bed of hot coals. "Dance with me, Grandma!" he said, hopping closer to her. She danced. And remembered delight.
Three kids (grown), two demanding jobs, and one dead air-conditioner later, they lay naked and sweating in their large, connubial bed. "God," she said, "I'm hot." "That's right," he said, "you are." He raised himself on one elbow, and with his face almost touching her, he began to blow lightly, from one of her shoulders to the other. The room, already warm, heated up. Endorphins were released. "I'd forgotten," she said, finally. "Forgotten?" "I'd forgotten we were hot," she said.
Fill Your Eyes with Green
It's the color many jewelers use as a backdrop when they're working on a delicate piece; green is said to be the easiest color for the eye to see. It's also thought to balance emotions and bring on a feeling of calm. Have you ever been mesmerized by the dense green of a palm as it swayed in a tropical breeze?
Stand in a Steaming Shower
And let the hot water loosen the stiff muscles in your neck. Lean over and feel the water pound your back. Stand again and breathe in the steam, which carries moisture to your airways and your skin, where it replenishes the water that has evaporated from your cells.
Too tired to dance? Husband on a trip? Middle of winter? Can't sleep? Sweep. Depending on how you do it, it's either the most productive way to be mindless (sweep that dusty attic floor) or the most mindful way to be unproductive (sweep the patio of falling leaves; they keep falling, you keep sweeping, sweeping, doing only this).
She used to get panic attacks. Then she learned how to "square breathe." Picture a square; choose a corner. Count to four as you slowly inhale. Count to four as you exhale. Reach the next corner on the inhale, leave it on the exhale. Four corners. Four deep breaths. Her heartbeat, which would suddenly gallop away, slowed to a comfortable trot. (Deep, slow breaths increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the body, which reduces the panic response.)