One of the most common things I hear from people when we are talking about reducing stress is (something like): “Meditation and relaxation might be great, but I don’t have time to do that during the day.” Work is too busy, or you have no privacy, or you are with the kids all day. I get it. But building mindfulness and relaxation into your life can be done with tiny moments of practice. They are especially effective if you do them often. These practices take about as much time (or less) as it takes to check your email or look at your friend’s vacation photos on facebook (one of my favorite ways to procrastinate).
Here are three very-mini-meditations:
1. 4-7-8 Breathing. First, inhale for a count of 4. Next, hold the breath for a count of 7. Lastly, exhale the breath for a count of 8, making a wooshing sound as you breathe out. Repeat the cycle 3 more times. With your kids? Have them do it with you. Want to watch an expert? Here is a video demonstration by Dr Andrew Weil.
2. The 60-second breath meditation. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. As you inhale say silently to yourself, “breathing in, I know I am breathing in.” One the exhale say silently to yourself, “breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” Repeat several times.
3. Let a small chore be a respite from a busy mind, or from rushing. Start by picking an activity your typically do on autopilot. Pause for several seconds before starting the activity. Then, fully turn your attention to the act of doing just that one thing. Just wash the dish. Breathe in and out and focus on your actions and sensations. You could try this while washing your hands, or packing a lunch, or unlocking your office door.
Have more than 60 seconds? A walk around the block or 5 minutes of stretching 2-3 times a day is very helpful, especially if your day tends to be sedentary.
Remember that making changes to your daily routine can be challenging. If you want to try one of these practices, commit to it for a week. It is helpful to make a reminder (on your phone, or a post-it note, or in your planner). Also remember that setbacks are part of the process of learning a new behavior. Take them in stride, and try again.