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  • Writer's pictureAlan Shoebridge

Harnessing the power of an hour

It’s amazing that in the space of a single hour you can feel stressed, bored, energized, exhausted, motivated or any combination of those and many other emotions. It’s all in the way you choose to spend the time or react to the situation you’re put in during those 60 minutes.

A few months ago, my department at Kaiser Permanente began experimenting with each employee being encouraged to take a “sacred hour” every day to learn, recharge our batteries, get some exercise or just eat lunch without multitasking. I’ve failed more often than not in actually setting aside that hour during the workday. Yet it dawned on me today that I was thinking a bit too narrowly about that hour.

My sacred hour often happens right after the normal workday ends. Today, my sacred hour was spent squeezing in a 59-minute mountain bike ride before daylight ran out. I got nearly an hour of exercise, saw a beautiful sunset, and cleared my head for the next day at work while getting to the top of the hill and back down before darkness fell over the Verdugo mountains.

All in all, this experience reminded me of how much power a single hour in the day can have. How you spend it – where, when and with whom – is up to you. Just make sure you do it with purpose and give yourself credit for making the effort.


If you’re trying to use the time to de-stress, this article from Kaiser Permanente has some useful tips for your scared hour. Here are a few highlights:

  • Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Walking is a great way to get started.

  • Write. It can help to write about the things that are bothering you.

  • Do something you enjoy. A hobby can help you relax. Volunteer work or work that helps others can be a great stress reliever.

  • Learn ways to relax your body. This can include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, massage, aromatherapy, yoga, or relaxing exercises like tai chi and qi gong.

  • Focus on the present. Try meditation, imagery exercises, or self-hypnosis. Listen to relaxing music. Try to look for the humor in life. Laughter really can be the best medicine.

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