Today marks the end of this column: A month’s worth of daily hacks to support your well-being in a winter season like no other. As I wind down the series, I’d love to believe the pandemic’s finale is nigh. But alas, that happy ending is still a ways off.
And though I’m a fierce advocate of both hope and optimism, I’ve set my watch to science and patience for the time being, so there I’ll sit (in my upgraded mask) for as long as it takes to arrive at what’s next.
One February night a few years ago, I sat on my bed and began taking deep breaths. Determined to finally get my escalating anxiety under control, I’d asked my therapist for the simplest path to mindfulness. She told me to start small, and that it was part of a practice. Which meant that it wasn’t an instant cure, but something that got stronger the more time you spent with it.
So I set my timer for about five minutes and vowed to stay in the moment. Eventually — whether over the next hundred seconds or several hundred weeks — my…
As we approach Election Day, Elemental is bringing you a progressive body scan for stress relief (also known as progressive muscle relaxation therapy; read more about the science behind it here). Each day, you’ll focus on and relax one part of your body to find a moment of presence and calm. Today, we dial in to the abdomen. Find earlier installments here (for the feet) and here (for the legs and lower back).
Take a nice, big inhale… and a long exhale.
Release any worries about the future and any past regrets, and take a moment to tune in…
Your brain is not like mine. In fact, your brain is not like anyone else’s. I don’t mean that in some philosophical or abstract way; I mean it literally. The precise wiring of your brain is unique to you. During development, your genes specified a blueprint that resulted in your brain having roughly the same organization as mine. But that genetic blueprint wasn’t designed to specify the precise connection patterns between all the neurons in your brain.
The exact wiring diagram of the networks of cells in your brain is the result of random processes influenced by external and environmental…