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Work Weary? Try the 90-Second Refresh

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Last Friday I was having dinner at Rosewater with a team member when something cool happened. We had just ordered drinks and were happily catching up when Graciela, our server, popped back by. Her electric smile, genuine connection and sincere optimism took all of our energy up 10 notches in about 90 seconds. It was as if her energy was on magical currents.

Our evening went from nice to amazing in a blink of an eye. And that’s when it hit us: sometimes all you need is a 90-second refresh.


Now before you think I’m getting all woo-woo on you, I decided to see what was out there on “90 seconds” and guess what? Science supports it.

According to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Harvard neuroanatomist (also known as “brain scientist”) and author of the book “My Stroke of Insight,” ninety seconds is all it takes to let go of a negative emotion.

For example, let’s say you’re stressed. Pause ninety seconds to label what you’re feeling (“Hey brain, I’m stressed”) and notice the physiological sensations (“I feel a tightness in my chest”). Simply observing the physical aspect of the sensations tamps down activity in the amygdala—the part of our brain that drives the “fight or flight” response.

If you’re still acutely feeling the emotion, remember, emotions are driven by thoughts, so you’re probably ruminating at this point. Try placing the focus solely on the physiological feelings—that pit in your stomach or lump in your throat—the emotion should dissipate.


Going back to our example at Rosewater, two things had to happen for the refresh to work—and they were both choices.

The first choice: Our server chose to go the extra mile and connect on a personal, ‘zen’ level with us.

And the second: We chose to engage and really receive her crazy good energy.

Those choices elevated our evening in less than two minutes.

And here are a few other tactics that you can deploy now:

●       “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. “– Mary Oliver

●       Notice someone other than you. It can be your kiddo, partner, friend, a stranger. Really notice them. Appreciate who they are and what they offer the world. Tell them.

●       Do a fun stretch. I love a good tree pose or child’s pose… They make me feel energized, strong and like I might want to take up yoga—for real this time.

●       Massage your hands or feet (or both). Notice how it feels.

●       Fire off an “I love you,” “I miss you,” or “You’re amazing” text for no reason to whomever comes to mind.

●       Write a list of the top 3 places you want to visit in the world and daydream a little about what an afternoon might look like there.

●       Look up. Get some sun. Feel the wind.


You know you need a refresh when you…

●       Schedule too many meetings in a day (those back-to-back appointments are a doozy)

●       Are consumed by day-to-day expectations or tedious conversations.

●       Are in the zone too long. Don’t forget to look up and see the world around you. Take a look right now!

●       Are on the ‘Eeyore’ Train. You know what I’m talking about.

●       And on and on and on… You know when you need an energy boost.

Remember, you are not a societal robot… You can disrupt, shake up and level up at any time—in 90 seconds.


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