Just Breathe

One of my core values is health. Of course, this includes physical health, but equally important to me is mental health. I, like so many others, have developed some core mindfulness practices supporting my wellbeing.

Which brings me to a pet peeve. Every now and then I’ll read some article that talks about how you should meditate for at least 30 minutes a day to get the full benefit. When I see this, I cringe. How many people aspiring to improve their mental health see “30 minutes a day” and give up without even trying? I started at three minutes a day. I built upon that as I saw value. My favorite centering exercise, however, takes 60 seconds (or less).

If you’re like me, you probably spend most of your day in Zoom meetings. When they run back-to-back, and you have less than five minutes before the next one, it’s easy to fall into the trap of checking slack or email to see what’s come in. This is always a bad idea. You’re already stressed, worn out, and that little detour probably didn’t help. Now you have more things worrying you and no time to do anything about them before the next meeting starts.

Next time, just take 60 seconds to breathe. I will move to a different chair or stand and look out the window. For about a minute, I try and clear my mind, and just take long, slow, deep breaths. There’s no right way to do this. I don’t worry about breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 6 seconds. I don’t use a mantra. I don’t worry if thoughts keep running through my head. But I pull away from the screen and give myself 60 seconds to re-center myself.

If you like structure and order (which I do) you can use a phone app or smartwatch to set a timer for 60 seconds. Sometimes I use the Apple Watch breathing app. Sometimes I set a timer with the Insight Timer app. But lots of times I just sit down and breathe. For me, this simple act really helps me re-center and enter my next meeting fresh.

What’s your favorite way to re-center in five minutes or less?

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