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Lori Hanson: Exit the high-stress freeway and relax


Posted: July 15, 2010 5:50 p.m.
Updated: July 16, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Is your life a reflection of driving in the fast lane on the freeway? Do you start your day by mindlessly putting your key in the ignition, backing out of the drive, and after a quick sideways glance, merging on to the freeway and setting cruise control without even thinking?

If your thoughts are focused on all the things you have to do today, before you know it you’ll start remembering the things you forgot to do before you left home because you were moving too fast and not tuned in.

In a society built on fast-paced lifestyles, constant distractions, pressure to perform and drama (including the overflow of reality TV), most people don’t give a thought as to where the scenic route is — or consider why they might choose it when the freeway is faster.

But the daily grind of living in the fast lane takes its toll. You probably need more than a pit stop for gas — you need new brakes, tires, a new windshield and — without taking time to do regular maintenance — you may even need a new transmission. 

Sooner or later, with continued driving in the fast lane, you have might get in an accident that can leave permanent damage.

All of this can be avoided or adjusted. By taking the scenic route, your experience on the road through life can be different.

There will be less traffic, a slower pace, better gas mileage, nicer views and overall less wear and tear on your nerves.

If you spend every day acting without thinking at a conscious level, you’re probably following the same routines — nagging at your kids who don’t listen, complaining about your boss, employees or significant other and getting stressed out because nobody does things the way you want them to. Worried and fretting, you’re stuck on auto pilot.

If you’re perplexed as to why you can’t stop smoking, don’t eat better or start that exercise program you keep meaning to — you’re on auto pilot. You need to get off at the next exit and take the scenic route to slow down, re-evaluate life and enjoy the scenery. 

Here are three things you can do to locate the scenic route and improve your quality of life:

1. In the morning when you wake up, before you launch into your morning tasks or activities, take five minutes and think or write about what you are grateful for. This will set the tone for your day by changing your perspective. It moves you from survival mode to balance and serenity.

2. As you wake the kids, fix breakfast and run out the door to exercise, think about what you are doing. Breathe the air, look at the trees and flowers. Feel your legs and feet while you jog, tune in to how they feel. Absorb the sights and sounds around you. Be there in that moment. If you don’t work out in the morning, notice little things about your kids, animals or spouse that make you smile. Whatever you are tuned in to and focus on sets the tone for your journey that day.

3. Contemplate your day and the way you would like it to go. Picture everything proceeding smoothly — we live in a world of infinite possibilities. After you have this picture in your head, let go and expect the best outcome. If the day seems to spin out of control and nothing goes as planned, let go and realize everything is just as is should be. Let it be okay. Even if something feels traumatic, painful or you get sick, look for the lesson — what’s the message you are getting about your
current situation? Maybe you just got the message to slow down, pull over and watch the sunset.

Isn’t it time for you take the scenic route?

Lori Hanson is nationally known speaker, award-winning author of Started with “Pop-Tarts — Teen Secrets to Surviving & Thriving” and “Stress Survival Kit for College Students,” a leading authority on eating disorders and an eating disorder coach. Visit for more information.


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