Squirrels and Stress Reduction

Over the past year I have given many presentations on stress to students at UNC. I followed guidelines from the experts on how to teach stress reduction which includes, identifying stressors, organizing one’s self, and for giving one’s self. I have even offered different meditation exercises such as counting breaths.  These are all great strategies and there are many more, but I believe each person ultimately has to find what works best for them. For me, being organized and assessing all the tasks I have to do is a great start, however I recently discovered something that works even better- watching squirrels. That’s right, I have started watching squirrels. It is important to understand what is stressing you out, but it is even more important to step out of your troubles for a minute and think about it in a different way. The best way to do this is to take a few minutes each day to not think about the thousand things you have to do. I challenge you to take 3 minutes each day and do nothing; no phones, no internet, no magazines, nothing. Just sit and take in your surroundings. For me, this means watching squirrels. Fortunately there are plenty on campus. Why squirrels? Why not? They are fascinating animals that do peculiar things and have the ability to make you scratch you head and wonder why they are so strange. This is the essence of their therapeutic power. During this process you stop thinking about your life just long enough to come back to it with an open mind. For you, watching the leaves in the wind, the birds flying, or mediation may be the trick, for me, it’s squirrels.  During this final week, join with me and take 3 minutes and do nothing. Here is a video to get you in the squirrel watching mood, but DO NOT get sucked down the You Tube rabbit hole, that’s NOT what this is about.

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