If you’re a busy professional, it probably seems like there aren’t enough hours in the week to do everything you need to do.
Work might be cutting into your family time or personal time. You might even be putting off having a family, because you don’t have enough time outside of work.
Maybe you’re skimping on sleep in order to fit in even more work.
Whatever your situation is, one thing is sure – you don’t think you have time to cram in one more thing.
And, whether you feel like you’re on top of things or completely out of control, your stress levels are probably through the roof.
But there’s good news. There’s a simple solution that can lower your stress levels dramatically. It can help you get a better night’s sleep.
It can even make you more productive, letting you free up a little bit of your personal time and keep work where it belongs—at work.
Studies show that meditation—and mindfulness meditation in particular—can change the way you cope with the stresses of work, keep you focused, and even make you more productive.
If you think you don’t have time to meditate, relax – just a few minutes per day can make a huge difference in your life.
In the past few years, meditation has gone from being the province of old hippies and New Age acolytes to a mainstream phenomenon.
Even science has taken a serious look at meditation for reducing stressand anxiety, including work-related stress.
In fact, a 2007 study found that meditation not only decreased work-related stress significantly, it also improved employee effectiveness, raised job satisfaction, and smoothed out work relationships.
Though this study looked at transcendental meditation (what most people imagine when they hear the word “meditation”), other studies have found that mindfulness meditation may be even more effective.
As little as 10 minutes of meditation per day can have a large positive impact, and practicing mindfulness for as little as three days in a row also has an effect.
There’s even evidence that regular meditation actually changes the structure of your brain—in a good way.
Meditation appears to strengthen the parts of the brain involved in learning, memory, and emotional regulation, while shrinking the area that processes fear and anxiety.
Here’s what you need to know in order to fit a simple meditation practice into your busy day:
The heart of mindfulness meditation is being aware. Mindfulness, at its most basic, is simply the practice of being fully present and aware in the current moment.
It asks you to pay attention to the here-and-now, rather than being distracted by worries about the future or reliving the past.
It sounds too simple to be true, but practicing this—being really, truly present—for a mere 10 minutes can leave you calm and refreshed, focused and energized and ready to tackle whatever life throws your way. What do you need to do?
Find a space where you won’t be disturbed for 10 minutes. Once you become familiar with it, you can practice mindfulness anywhere, any time, but to begin with a quiet space makes it easier.
Find a comfortable position. You can practice sitting up, in a chair or on the floor; you can practice while lying down, though you may fall asleep.
If you’re going to practice while lying down, it’s a good idea to work this into your bedtime routine.
Once you’re comfortable, take a breath. Feel the breath flow into your lungs. Hear the sound of it rushing in and out.
Engage all your senses. Focus them all on the process of breathing, and ignore any distractions. This is what mindfulness is all about.
If thoughts cross your mind—and they will—don’t get distracted by them. Notice them, acknowledge them, then bring your attention—all your attention—back to your breath.
Do this for 10 minutes.
When it feels like you’re working 24 hours a day, fitting in one more thing may seem impossible. But, you can reap the benefits of meditation in as little as 10 minutes per day.
You can work a meditation into your bedtime ritual. You can practice it while your morning coffee brews. You can even fit it into a bathroom break if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed during the work day.
It doesn’t take any special equipment or extra space, and the effort required is minimal. This simple practice can have a major impact on many aspects of your life and your health.
You can reduce your stress, improve your focus, and become more productive—and it only takes 10 minutes. Why not give it a try?