The Mega Effect of a Mini-Timeout

If you think of life as a marathon race, it becomes clear that sprinting is only something you can do for a limited amount of time. For the most part, it’s about pounding the pavement, one step at a time. Sometimes we pick up the pace when we feel the need, the power, the essence of our goal. At other moments we hit a stride that sustains us while we move forward. Any marathon runner will tell you there’s a point in every race where you think you aren’t going to make it. That’s when you take in water and one more breath. And you keep on moving.

Running a marathon is one thing. Training for it is another. And even the fittest athlete will tell you that down time is as important as pumping iron, running, stretching and eating well. Mini-timeouts allow the body to rebuild the muscles broken down during strenuous exercise.

Mini-timeouts rock. They nurture not only our bodies, but our souls. They make us more effective by reducing our stress. A recent Carnegie Mellon study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology investigated people’s resiliency in the face of stress after engaging in just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation over three days. Those in the meditation group experienced less psychological stress while doing complex math and speech tasks (interestingly, the meditation group actually had higher cortisol levels in their blood than the other group that was asked to analyze poetry over three days). Over time, however, meditation lowers blood pressure and contributes to an overall sense of wellbeing.

You don’t have to repeat a mantra with your eyes shut every day to feel the long-term effects of taking a mini-timeout. Dedicating just one afternoon a week to a pleasurable activity can raise your happiness level considerably.

Find that oasis. Go there often. Take it slowly and you’ll get there faster.

Trust me on this one.

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