Gift yourself 5 minutes today. It could change your life.

In that 5 minutes be still. Breathe. Get quiet. Breathe deeply. Listen. Exhale slowly. Relax your body.

Schedule your 5 minutes into the day. It can be first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It can be at lunchtime, in the carpool line, just before a meeting, during your child’s music lesson, while waiting for the doctor, at half time, or after dinner. It can be anytime, but make a conscious choice about when you want to give yourself this gift.

When it is “time,” set your phone alarm for 5 minutes. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, hold it for a beat, let it out slowly and feel yourself relax. Do that again. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose. Hold that breath for a moment before you consciously release the air evenly from your lungs then your belly. At the end of the exhale, stop. Wait in silence. Begin your next breath in and take longer to fill your diaphragm then your lungs with air. Feel your belly push out as the air fills your diaphragm and feel your shoulders roll back as your lungs expand. While fully inflated, allow yourself to float there, at the top, for a moment. When ready, gently release your breath controlling the slow, soothing exhale.  Feel your body relax at the bottom of the breath.  Continue to breathe slower, deeper and more rhythmically until your alarm sounds.

Sometimes counting is useful to measure your breathing. Count 4 beats for the inhale, one for the hold at the top, 4 beats on the exhale, one on the silence at the bottom. Then increase the beats for each successive breath. ( 5-1 – 5-1;  6-2 – 6-2;  7-2 – 7-2;  8-3 – 8-3, etc.)  This will cause you to lengthen your breath, increase your lung capacity and oxygenate your body.

Focus on your breath. It brings you to the present moment. This is your gift! You are present for yourself: completely present and attentive to your body, your mind and your spirit. Five minutes of peace and quiet, completely in “the now,” can make a huge difference in your stress level and mood.

Do this every day- after all, the present is a gift!