Let's face it. Meditation, despite its many benefits, isn't for everyone. Sitting down and focusing on only your breathing can be frustrating for some and boring for others.
Which is why psychotherapist and grief counselor Ashley Davis Bush decided to create a list of "shortcuts" that can give you the same stress-relieving benefits of meditation but without the effort. These tips don't require you to take more time out of your day; instead, they're just little practices that you can incorporate into your regular activities -- like while washing your hands or drying your hair.
"The tools are quick things to do, think, say or imagine to make you feel calmer, more relaxed and less stressed," says Davis in her book Shortcuts to Inner Peace.
Below is a list of shortcuts adapted from Davis' book. Give them a try the next time you need a little stress relief in the middle of your day.
Trigger: When washing your hands.
Tool: Whenever you're at a sink and touch water, let the stream of warm liquid cue you to say: "Go with the flow" or "I trust the universe" or "Everything is as it should be." This reminds you to let go and flow with the current of life.
Trigger: When you blow-dry your hair.
Tools: Take a moment to aim the hair dryer toward a window, out to the world and scatter some joy. Say, "I spread joy out to all beings on the planet." Think of grievances, people struggling with loss, illness, addiction, fear, anxiety, depression, people in hospitals, prisons, people getting divorced, people getting married, people having babies, people struggling with infertility, victims of natural disasters -- and let yourself experience goodwill as you blow it out to the world. Share your compassion for the entire human condition.
Trigger: When you are eating.
Tool: Look at your food and ask yourself, "Where did this food come from?" (Cheese from Vermont? Almonds from California? Grapes from Chile? A factory in North Dakota? A farm in Wisconsin?) Imagine the environment that created this item that you're enjoying and imagine all the parts in the journey that brought it to your table.
Trigger: When your buttons get pushed and you're upset, maybe even on the verge of tears
Tool: Excuse yourself, get out of the situation, find the nearest water fountain, sink or bottle of water and splash your face with cold water. If possible, get a wet washcloth or paper towel and hold it to the back of your neck or on your face until you cool off. Imagine your emotional fire being doused.
Trigger: When coming home at the end of the day (or when transitioning out of a stressful situation).
Tool: Before you walk through the door, spend a moment "shaking down" your body, as if you are shaking off water. Shake your right leg and foot, then your left leg and foot. Shake your right arm and left arm, and gently shake your head. Let your shoulders relax. Finish with a little twist of your torso to shake off any remaining energy from your day. Take a deep breath and heave a hearty sigh (a prolonged exhalation).
Trigger: When you're feeling overwhelmed or frightened by present circumstances.
Tool: Close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself: "Will this matter in a year? In five years? In 50 years?" With each jump in time, picture yourself in the future looking back at the situation behind you.
Trigger: When you can't sleep at night.
Tool: Close your eyes and tune in to all the sounds around you. As you hear a sound, label it: barking dog, airplane overhead, dishwasher running, cough, crickets outside, honking horn and so on. Listen more deeply: Do you hear the sound of your breath? Do you hear the beat of your heart? Feel yourself relax into the experience. Count each exhalation.