My friend Chris says it's because I have a lot of fire energy...
But for whatever reason, I seem to have been plagued with more than my fair share of technical failures recently.
In the past two months alone I have faced hard disk failure TWICE, keyboard failure and now, the latest technical misadventure is that my brand new Apple MacBook has developed a mysterious, intermittent fault with the space bar.
This kind of "spanner in the works" inevitably happens when you're busy, when you've got an important and urgent deadline; when you really cannot afford the time.
Let's face it: Sh1t happens.
It seems that life conspires to see how much more nonsense you can take. And the less time you have, the more time the issue will take. It's almost as if there might be an additional Newtonian Law we haven't yet proven: For every problem, the amount of time it takes to resolve is in inverse proportion to the time available.
Not so long ago, this series of time drains would have made me into a foul, angry, bad-tempered, slightly unhinged, highly stressed harpy. My knickers would have been in a right old twist.
However, I have *mostly* kept smiling...
Amanda, are you on drugs?
I believe that there is ONE thing that has made a HUGE difference to me being a less stressed out woman. Whilst I'm certainly not sitting here with a beatific smile on my face, a halo over my head and a zen-like aura of calm, I AM taking most of this in my stride.
And do *you* want some of what I've been taking? :)
Drum Roll Please...The best thing ever for stressed out women is...
No, it's NOT drugs. Or Prosecco. It's not even coffee.
And no, it's not regular...............exercise.
The one thing that is the best thing ever for stressed out women is **meditation** - also known as mindfulness. I've been practicing meditation reasonably regularly for about 2 ½ years.
In the past couple of months, I resolved to make my meditation practice the ONE SINGLE HABIT that I do, without fail, on a daily basis.
And I'm convinced that it's changing my brain for the better!
What if this could help YOU to cope better?
If a barmy, fiery, electrical-breaking disaster-zoned fruitcake like me is able to remain calm(er), then how might meditation help YOU?
What if this made you less critical of yourself and more accepting?
What if this helped you to shout less at your kids and feel like a better mum?
What if this helped you to remember more and forget less? And let's face it, you have a lot to remember!
What if this helped you not to take a snide comment from a co-worker to heart and you were able to shrug it off more easily?
What if this helped you not to wake up at 3am worrying about your project deadline?
What if this simply helped you to roll with the punches more?
The Scientific Proof That This Works
The Washington Post published a fascinating article last year showing how meditation not only reduces stress, but also changes your brain. A neuroscientist from Harvard conducted brain scans demonstrating the changes that meditation makes to many areas of the human brain.
Long term meditators have increased amount of grey matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex, the frontal cortex and the prefrontal cortex.
None of which will mean much to you unless you're a neuroscientist! However, what all this does mean is that meditation can improve your memory, your sense of equanimity, your sense of perspective and your ability to empathise, to name but a few.
And as for the impact that meditation might have on your stress levels: The area of the brain associated with stress - the amygdala, responsible for our fight or flight response - got smaller for the people in the group who went through an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction programme.
You can read the whole article here.
"But Amanda.. I don't have time to meditate"
Wrong, rubbish, incorrect! If I have time, so do you!
We carve out time for the things we value. If you think you don't have time to meditate, it's because you don't value it.
Here's how I make time to meditate...
And the only way I can possibly keep the promise to myself to meditate on a daily basis is by doing it first thing, before I get up. Before coffee, before kids, before anything!
The difference is that I've set my alarm 15 minutes earlier and I committed to myself. This happens, no matter what.
A Baby Step Challenge to help you get started
Tomorrow is the start of a new month, the perfect time to start a challenge.Baby steps are always the best way to create positive new habits. So here's my simple and gentle challenge for you:
1. Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier.
2. Sit up in bed
3. Set a timer for 5 minutes
4. Close your eyes
5. Put your hands on your belly and focus on your breathing for 5 minutes.
6. Try saying "in" as you breathe in and "out" as you breathe out.
7. Do it for 7 days straight, no matter what. Commit to it.
If you find this easy, try 10 minutes for the next 7 days.
Meditation doesn't have to be hard - don't overthink it and don't worry if your mind wanders. All you need to do is gently bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing.
Let me know how you get on, and please share this post with all the busy, juggling stressed out women (and men) you know. It might just inspire them to give it a try.