One-Minute Meditations For Fast Stress Relief
> All it takes is 60 seconds to dial down stress a level or two
It’s been one of those days.
You had an early start and as soon as you stepped into the office it was go, go, go.
Meetings, deadlines, more meetings, more deadlines.
At some point, you found the time to eat a sandwich at your desk but you barely even remember that in the haze of busy-ness.
And it didn’t stop after work either.
You left the office, rushed to an appointment, made a pit stop at the grocery store and you’ve finally arrived home.
The day has gone past in a blur and now all you have on your mind is food and sleep.
Even the task of preparing dinner seems like too much to ask (GrubHub, anyone?).
Days like this are becoming more and more common for you.
Days where there’s so much to do that you barely even have time to think - you just have to keep going.
So when people talk about looking after your well-being, you wonder what kind of life of luxury they’re living to be able to stroll to the gym and take an hour long class, cook healthy meals from scratch, practice self-care (whatever that means) and meditate twice a day.
You understand the importance of looking after yourself but beyond basic hygiene, getting a few measly hours of sleep each night and showing up to work on time, you genuinely don’t see how you can fit anything else in.
You feel yourself getting more and more stressed but there’s barely time in the day to acknowledge your stress let alone deal with it.
We’ve been there.
It’s a vicious cycle.
You know that to be more productive, healthy and happy, you need to take time for things like exercise and meditation. But with so many more urgent and important tasks that need to be done, you simply can’t find the time.
Well, we have a question for you.
Can you find a spare minute each day?
Just a measly 60 seconds?
We both know you do.
You already spend more time than that daydreaming about winning the lottery or at the very least, scrolling through your phone.
With just one minute a day, you can start to practice meditations that will help you to feel calmer, clear-minded and less frazzled.
While getting in an hour of exercise a day and 30 minutes of meditation might be great for your physical and mental health, it’s not the only way you can improve your wellbeing.
Doing something is better than doing nothing at all - every little bit helps.
How Does Meditation Relieve Stress?
Stress at work is inevitable. In fact, according to The American Institute of Stress, 80% of Americans say they are stressed at work.
There are a number of different tools and practices that can help with stress management, and meditation is an easy one to implement.
When we’re stressed, our body goes into “fight or flight” mode.
This has been our reaction to stress since humans existed as a species but its ability to get us out of stressful situations has been somewhat compromised by modern life.
Back in the day, when we humans were simply hunters and gatherers, our stress response would be triggered from something like seeing a predator ready to pounce on us.
Cortisol and adrenaline would course through our bodies, ready for us to either take on the threat or run as fast as our legs would take us.
It’s actually a very effective mechanism.
Our body temporarily stops using energy on things like digestion and healing, so that all focus and energy is on our escape. Then, once the threat is gone, we come out of fight or flight mode and go back to “rest and recover” mode.
The problem nowadays is that, while our bodily response to stress has stayed the same, the stressors have evolved dramatically. No longer is it only the endangerment of our lives that stresses us out - a simple strongly worded email can knock us straight into stress mode.
Furthermore, we have a lot more different stressors now and they’re also near constant. If it’s not your boss stressing you out, it’s the kids. If it’s not the kids, it’s money. If it’s not money, it’s life in general.
We live in such a fast paced, “always on” society that there is literally always something stressful right around the corner.
This means that our bodies can end up permanently in fight or flight mode. And if we don’t spend enough time in rest and recovery mode, basic bodily functions don’t get the healing and attention they need.
Constant stress can lead to digestive issues, insomnia, heart problems, poor immunity and more. Put simply, it really messes us up.
This is why meditation is one of our favorite stress management tools.
Not only does it relieve stress and workplace pressure, but it’s also proven to put our minds and bodies in a healing modality, and improving our physical and mental wellbeing.
Benefits Of Meditation
Meditation has been practiced all over the world for centuries. A variety of cultures have practiced it in different forms. Nearly every modern civilization has some mode of specifically taking time to switch off from the external world and turn inward to yourself.
Meditation, which has become so popular today, is mainly rooted in Buddhist traditions.
There is a misconception that meditation is all about switching off your thoughts but it’s quite the opposite. It’s all about increasing awareness of the here and now.
The aim of meditation is to fully engage with whatever your point of focus is on, rather than being distracted by what is often called the “monkey mind”.
In day to day life, we’re so distracted by our thoughts. We’re all scatter-brained and all over the place.
Have you ever driven somewhere and then realized that you don’t even remember your journey?
Or, how about this one - you “wake up” halfway through a conversation and noticed that you have no idea what was just said.
In these kinds of situations, we’re physically there but our minds are in outer space, jumping from thought to thought.
Meditation pulls you into the present moment.
In the present moment, there are of course thoughts. It’s just that you don’t let them pull your attention away into the past or the future. You notice them but stay focused on what’s happening right now in the moment.
There are different ways to anchor yourself in the present. It could be through focusing on your breath or repeating a mantra, but whatever style of meditation you try, you’ll be reaping some awesome benefits.
Some scientifically proven benefits of mediation:
- Reduce overall stress
- Ease work-related anxiety
- Lessen the effects of depression
- Increase positive self-image
- Strengthen attention span
- Improve sleep
- Lower blood pressure
You can experience all these benefits from setting aside just 60 seconds in your working day. And, don’t worry - you don’t have to light some incense and sit cross-legged on the floor (unless of course, you want to!).
We’ve put together some one-minute meditations you can easily do at work without anyone batting an eyelid.
One Minute Meditations
All of the meditations below are designed to be effective even when done for only one minute. As you develop your meditation skills, you can use the same format and extend the timer.
To get started, all you need is the timer on your phone and an open mind 😉
For each of these meditations, sit comfortably with your back straight. Relax your shoulders and unclench your jaw. If you’d like to and you’re somewhere private, you can close your eyes - otherwise, you can practice with your eyes open.
1) Square Breathing
Step 1: Inhale through your nose for 4 counts.
Step 2: Hold your breath in for 4 counts.
Step 3: Slowly exhale through your nose for 4 counts.
Step 4: Hold the breath out for 4 counts.
Step 5: Repeat until the time is up.
2) Breath Awareness
Step 1: Start to breathe deeply in and out through your nose.
Step 2: Bring your attention to your top lip. Can you feel the slightly cool air passing over it as you breathe in and the warmer air as you breathe out?
Step 3: Notice what else happens in your body as you breathe. What parts of your body move with the breath? Focus on them.
Step 4: Whenever you notice that your attention has been diverted, bring the focus back to your breath.
Step 5: Continue focusing on your breath until time is up.
3) Body Scan
Step 1: Start to breathe deeply in and out through your nose.
Step 2: Starting at the crown of your head, slowly scan through your body, all the way down to your toes and notice what you can feel. Try not to make any judgments, simply notice what you feel.
Step 3: If your mind gets distracted, simply bring it back to where you were and continue scanning your body.
Step 4: Do this until time is up.
4) Five Senses
Step 1: Start to breathe deeply in and out through your nose.
Step 2: Focus all your attention on your sense of sound. What can you hear that’s near you? What can you hear that’s further away?
Step 3: Focus all your attention on your sense of sight. What can you see? If your eyes are closed, what can you see behind your eyelids?
Step 4: Focus all your attention on your sense of smell. What can you smell around you?
Step 5: Focus all your attention on your sense of taste. What can you taste in your mouth?
Step 6: Focus all your attention on your sense of touch. What can you feel? Can you feel your clothes against your skin? Can you feel the point where your body touches the chair?
Step 7: Release your focus and come back to breathing deeply until your time is up.
Step 1: Decide on a mantra to use for this meditation. It should be something simple, ideally one word. It could be something that you want more of in your life, for example, love or peace.
Step 2: Start to breathe deeply in and out through your nose.
Step 3: Repeat the mantra in your head, keeping your whole focus on the word.
Step 4: When your attention gets diverted, simply bring your focus back to the mantra.
Step 5: Do this until time is up.
Guided One Minute Meditations
If you’d rather have a video with instructions for your one-minute meditation, here are a few of our favorites.
The first comes with some more information about how and why to meditate from one of the leading gurus in this space, Deepak Chopra.
So put your headphones on and take a listen in on this short conversation and mini guided session.
VIDEO: A One-Minute Meditation with Deepak Chopra
YOUTUBE: Live Sonima
This next video below is from the folks over at Headspace. They’re one of the leading meditation apps out there.
For some reason, the British accent just makes it seem a tiny bit more eccentric and sophisticated than some of the other meditation videos out there.
As you listen, watch and follow along, you’ll feel the stress melting away.
VIDEO: Headspace | Mini Meditation | Let Go of Stress
The last guided meditation video below is from Michelle Chalfant, a Nashville, TN based holisitic therapist and life coach.
Her soothing voice does wonders for calming us down and we’ll often jump to this short video clip for a quick meditation.
VIDEO: 1-Minute Relaxation Meditation
YOUTUBE: Michelle Chalfant
Other Ways To Release Stress In 60 Seconds or Less
There may be times when you find it difficult to be still and meditate - or maybe you just want to mix things up.
As long as you have 60 seconds to spare, there are other ways you can quickly relieve stress at work.
1) Go for a walk
We can sometimes be so focused on our work that we barely move for hours on end.
Next time you’re feeling frazzled, stop, get up and take a walk. It doesn’t have to be far - you could just walk down the corridor and back or take a lap around the floor.
Just the simple act of getting away from your desk - and your computer - for a minute can help you feel calmer in no time.
2) Doodle Or Scribble
Doodling has gained a bad rep as being what inattentive kids do, a sign of boredom or not focusing.
But actually, doodling during a meeting or phone call can help you pay attention and focus. It can also be a great tool for stress release.
Doodling or just scribbling on a page (for the less artsy among us) is a great way to get some nervous energy out of your system.
Keep some post-it notes or a notebook nearby, and next time you need a 60-second stress saver, scribble to your heart’s content!
3) Eat Some Dark Chocolate
Finally, a legit excuse to eat more chocolate! As if we needed any excuse really.
Dark chocolate reduces glucocorticoid, a stress-related hormone, so keep a bar by your desk and treat yourself to a square whenever the day is driving you crazy.
For more stressed out snacking at work, check out this article.
4) Practice Gratitude
Thinking about the things and people we’re grateful for has been shown to reduce stress and promote happiness.
Next time you’re feeling less than grateful for your job or your colleagues, open your notebook, take a few deep breaths and think about just one single thing you are grateful for. Write it down and then read it over a few times.
It’s a great way to trigger happiness at work. Revel in the feelings of gratitude and joy, then return to work feeling instantly less stressed.
5) Listen To Music
Music is so powerful and has the capacity to change our mood.
If you’re allowed to have your headphones on in the office, try listening to music when you feel overwhelmed.
You could even make a specific playlist that helps you feel calmer and happier.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also try listening to binaural beats. These are songs that have been composed with specific frequencies - different frequencies in each ear - to induce specific states in the brain.
There are binaural beats for everything from concentration to sleep and, of course, stress relief.
Here’s an example to get you started.
You don’t need to actually “watch” the whole video - it’s over 2 hours long.
You can watch for a minute. Then, once you need to get back to work, just keep it running in the background, letting the binaural beats do their job.
VIDEO: Binaural Beats Relaxing Music
YOUTUBE: Greenred Productions - Relaxing Music
60 Seconds Is All It Takes
In becoming more and more popular, meditation has also become more and more commercialized. You may have heard the term, “McMindfulness” - that’s what we’re talking about here.
You can pay top dollar to go and sit in a dedicated meditation studio with a variety of incense aromas and comfy pillows.
Or, you can buy lavender and sage and bring the meditation studio to your own home.
You can pay for subscriptions to apps like Headspace and Calm.
Or, you can just do it for free right at your desk.
There are tons of options out there to suit any budget and now...time.
With just 60 seconds a day and nothing more, you can start your own meditation practice.
These one-minute meditations and stress release ideas will help you feel more calm at work. And, getting into the habit of giving yourself a break - even if it’s just for a minute - is a very good thing.
A minute here and a minute there. Right before that meeting, after that conference call, during a bathroom break - free little micro-moments are all around you.
In fact, rather than reflexively scrolling through your phone during a little downtime, take that moment and just do a 60-second meditation instead.
As you continue to build that habit as part of your normal behavior, you’ll find that you naturally start to meditate for longer. Soon, five or ten minutes a day will seem more like a necessity rather than a challenge.
Once you’re ready to start taking your meditation skills further, our newbie’s guide to meditating at work is the perfect place to get started.
Whatever meditation activities you choose and whatever amount of time you dedicate, your body - and your soul - will thank you.
We can’t promise that your days will get less busy but we can promise that they will feel less stressful.
Not bad for 60 seconds, right?