5 fast ways to be mindful when you’re booked & busy
Between work, workouts, and the never-ending battle to balance our social and family lives, it can feel like a miracle when we find time to take a walk outside, let alone stop and smell the roses while we’re there.
So if the idea of squeezing "mindfulness" into your already crazy schedule feels like an extra stressor, we hear you.
That’s why we’ve rounded up 5 fast and easy ways to stay grounded when stress levels soar.
1. Inhale. Sip. Sigh.
Have you heard about the cyclic sighing method? It was popularized by Andrew Huberman, who co-led a Stanford study comparing the effectiveness of breathing exercises. The study found cyclic sighing to be the most effective exercise for calming people down once they’ve started stressing.
Here’s how to try it:
Inhale through your nose.
Take a second, deeper breath in to fully expand your lungs.
Slowly exhale through your mouth, letting yourself sigh naturally and audibly as you release.
Repeat this process for a few minutes, or until calm comes.
How does it work?
When we worry, both our heart and respiratory rates speed up. Our brains can interpret this as a crisis, which has a snowball effect – physical stress leading to mental stress leading to more physical stress… you get the idea. But cyclic sighing melts the stress snowball, bringing calm, to body and mind and delivering you back to the present.
2. Try a screen-free lunch
When we’re busy or stressed, we tend to rush through our meals or skip them altogether. We might wolf down fast food between meetings, or something greasy over morning emails, then come home and stress eat mindlessly while scrolling on our phones. Not great for our body or our mental health.
Mindful eating is a simple way to build mindfulness into your day in an accessible way, improving not just your meals but also your mood.
How do you do it?
It’s easy – focus on your food. Ditch the screens, slow down, chew thoroughly, engage your senses, and let yourself enjoy the act of nourishing your body.
It sounds basic, but research indicates that practicing mindful eating can lead to greater psychological well-being and increased pleasure when consuming food. It may even lead to healthier food choices and reduce overeating.
Sergio Perera’s mindful eating meditation will put you in the perfect space to enjoy your next meal.
3. Ice your neck
Ice baths are, quite literally, one of the coolest trends right now, though you don’t have to fully submerge yourself to chill out.
When your mind is racing and you can't focus, try placing a cold compress or a bag of frozen peas on your neck and chest – one study found that 16 seconds is enough to decrease heart rate and reduce heart rate variability. This treatment is thought to stimulate the vagus nerve, which contributes to an overall feeling of calmness.
Reducing the physical effects of stress in this way may help you feel less mentally stressed too, allowing for more mindfulness and greater presence.
4. Go outside for 5
You don’t need to go off-grid or take to the Pacific Crest Trail to reap the rewards either – your backyard or neighborhood park are just as effective for grounding you in the natural world. Just a few minutes outside and take in the sky, the trees, and your surroundings. Close your eyes and listen to the birds. Name what you hear and feel the sun and wind on your skin. We’re willing to bet that regular breaks outside will put things in perspective.
Boost the mental benefits of your outside time and your workout by combining them like Da Rulk. The ability to spray sand like a superhero not guaranteed.
5. Take back ‘mindless’ tasks
There’s more to mindfulness than strict meditation. You can be mindful anywhere, at any time, if you want to be. The key is to pay total attention to whatever you’re doing and look for the pleasure in it, whether that’s cooking dinner, walking the dog or even washing the dishes.
Challenge yourself to be immersed in one task or activity at a time and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you feel a sense of satisfaction and calm. Once your busy brain stops bouncing from thought to thought, that stress can melt away. And don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t – we’re aiming for mindful moments, not the attainment of Nirvana.
Keen to keep your mind in good shape?
Sign up to unlock your full potential
All your tools in one place
Expert-training to fuel your fitness, nutrition and mindfulness.
Limitless ways to fuel your mind & body
Access to over 3,000 workouts, recipes, and meditations – all tailored to your goals.
Tech that keeps you moving
Download Centr on all your devices to level up and track your results live.