Wake up. Check your email. Shower. Work. Drive home. Cook dinner. We eventually go to sleep, wind ourselves up, and repeat. For people with busy schedules, perhaps one of the most powerful tools for stress-relief is also one of the oldest: Meditation.
A well-established practice that is over 5,000 years old, recent research has shown that mediation can have a profound effects on how we deal with the day-to-day stresses in our lives. Several research studies point to the benefits of meditation for physical and emotional well-being, including a 2007 Chinese study that suggested meditation reduces cortisol, a stress hormone, and improves mood. A New York Times article on meditation posited that meditation can, in fact, change your brain for the better, reduce blood pressure in patients with coronary heart disease, and even increase your attention span.
But what often gets in the way of busy people practicing meditation is just that: They’re busy and don’t think they have the time. The good news? Meditation doesn’t require you to take time out of your day.
Three Ways to Meditate During a Busy Day:
- When you get to work, delay checking your email for 10 minutes: Rather than beginning your day with your inbox, the one place where you know you’ll be surprised with new requests, let yourself slowly acclimate to the work day. Just sit down and concentrate on your hopes and intentions for the day. Find a quiet places, focus on yourself, and jot down a note or two about what you want the rest of your day to look like.
- When driving, focus on your surroundings rather than your destination: When we are driving we are leaving one destination and headed to the other. In such an environment we are often focused on where we are going, rather than where we are. Instead, try focusing on your surroundings. Put on a song that you enjoy and sit back and relax. Turn off your cell phone. Being present while driving can feel very different than being anxious about where you are going, and doing so can help you arrive at your destination rejuvenated and relaxed.
- In the shower, connect to the sensory elements of your surroundings: Rather than thinking about what you are going to do when you leave the shower, focus on the sound of the water, the smell of the soap, the warm air. Focusing your senses can help keep your mind from drifting to places that might bring anxiety into the beginning or end of the day.