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The Helpful Qualities of Quick Doses of Quiet

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
By Stephen Schramm
Woman on Sofa

In her role as a human resources information center specialist, Kanisha Madison spends workdays on a phone, helping Duke staff and faculty and job applicants navigate Duke’s sometimes complicated systems. 

Incoming calls can range from simple online password resets to complex benefits changes due to major life events. Between calls on busy days, Madison will put her headset down and take a few minutes to sit quietly. She said the breaks, which last fewer than five minutes, help ready her for whatever comes next.

“I put everything on pause, and it forces me to release all of the energy that’s telling me to stress out,” Madison said. “Afterward, my mind feels at ease. My mind is clear. So when I get back on the phones, I can take my time and make sure that I do everything right.”

Madison’s approach is backed up by experts, who point out that taking a few minutes during the course of the day to be silent – which can be seen as a simple form of meditation—can help sharpen your mind and relieve stress, which is especially important as a recent American Psychological Association survey showed that roughly two-third of adults have experienced more stress during the pandemic.

“There’s so much energy that goes into crafting words, there’s so much energy that goes into social interaction,” said Jason Cho, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and medical instructor in the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “We don’t recognize how much energy that drains. So it can be a privilege and an opportunity when you give yourself permission to stop. You can have that energy routed in a different way.”

Read the full article on Duke Today for strategies and advice from Cho and Jonathan Corbin, senior behavioral researcher with the Center for Advanced Hindsight.