How to relieve stress when you don’t have time to meditate

Meditation is a fantastic way to keep stress in check; a daily practice is brilliant for keeping the mind calm and on an even keel… but what if you don’t have time to meditate? There is an old Zen saying that you should meditate for twenty minutes every day, unless you are very busy; then you should meditate for an hour. Which looks great on one of those quote cards you see on Facebook, but is not so great in practice. When you already feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, the idea of carving out twenty minutes to sit and do nothing can just end up causing more stress.

We all could do with relieving some stress though, couldn’t we? The good news is that you don’t need to find twenty silent minutes to sit in meditation in order to feel better. Here are some suggestions as to how you can get a little light relief without getting into the lotus position:

Mindful Breathing

You can try this practically anywhere, for any length of time. Even if you only have a couple of minutes between client meetings, this exercise can be used to calm your nerves and recentre yourself. 

All you have to do is just be still and pay attention to your breath. Try to pay real, focused attention to the breath coming into your body and filling your lungs before leaving. Breathe as slowly as possible; one breath in and out should last around six seconds. If a thought pops up, acknowledge it but let it go and draw your attention back to your breath.

If you feel a bit of an idiot doing this at your desk, you can always sneak off to the toilets for a couple of minutes; in fact, you could make it a habit to do this for one minute every time you visit the bathroom. 

Pay Attention

Whether you’re driving to work, washing up or standing in the queue for your morning coffee, remove yourself from autopilot and really pay attention to your body and how it feels. We’ve all arrived at work and realised we don’t remember the journey there; this is all about taking in every single detail and really paying attention to what we’re doing How do your feet feel on the floor? If there’s something in your hand, how does that feel? Can you feel any tension in your body that you could let go of? Take a few deep breaths and just “be” in the moment, without allowing your thoughts to wander off to other things.

Stop – Inhale – Reset

The Scentered ritual is all about taking that brief moment to yourself to reset your mood. You might think you would want a Stress Less Balm for this, but we find a great one for a brief moment to yourself is Escape. Close your eyes, inhale deeply and imagine you’re somewhere far, far away without a care in the world. If you have time for two breaths, even better. Picture what your next holiday will look and feel like, and allow yourself that brief moment to reset and feel calm. 

Sit and Listen

Close your eyes if you can, and just listen to the sounds around you. So often we hear “traffic noise” but don’t stop to listen and break down exactly what that noise is made up from. Granted, the sound of passing cars is not the most stress relieving sound out there, but in the absence of a chorus of birds to serenade you, it will do! Really pay attention and try to separate the sounds out. What is the farthest sound you can hear? 

If you’re able to put some music on instead, this works really well. Don’t just put on your favourite song or the radio and sing along; put on something you’re less familiar with, and really listen to the different instruments and voices. Hear every individual note.

Colouring

You’ve probably seen the adult colouring books that have been popping up all over the place lately; they’ve become hugely popular. It’s not just some weird, indulgent craze; sitting down with some pens and an intricate design to colour in can help you to relax, and take your mind off the things that are troubling you. Pay real attention to the pattern you’re colouring, the colours you’re using, and of course – don’t go outside of the lines! Just a few minutes of this can help you to feel more relaxed.

Meditation is a fantastic way to relieve stress and keep ourselves grounded, but it can be hard to find a chunk of time in the day where we don’t have other commitments and won’t be disturbed. There are plenty of other ways you can relieve stress without meditation though, and meditation itself needn’t be an hour-long affair.

Stress serves a purpose in our lives, but when you feel like you have too much and just need a little break, these suggestions should help. The idea is not to remove stress from our lives, but rather to cope better with our lives by cultivating awareness of each moment. 

Written by Dawn Myall

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