One minute. That’s all you need to take the sting out of stress. The following meditations can all be done in 60 seconds or less. Find the ones that work best for you, and adapt them freely to your needs — they can make a huge difference to the way you feel.

Sigh gently…

Take a nice slow, full breath, drawing oxygen deep into the lungs — then sigh gently as you exhale, letting the breath fall out of the body and watching as it fades into stillness. Pause, savour any feelings of calm, quiet or peacefulness and repeat if desired.

Listen…

Take an inventory of  the sounds around you: traffic noise, birds chirping, office equipment humming, a snatch of conversation, the clatter of a keyboard, footsteps. Enjoy these ambient noises as you would your favourite song. Notice how the mind begins to feel more focused and calm, and how the body begins to relax.

Soften…

Staring at a screen all day, rarely seeing further than a few metres in any direction, concentrating for hours on end; the eyes can quickly turn into squinting slits of tension. To counter this stress bring your attention to the muscles around and behind the eyes and let them soften, along with the skin across the brow and the muscles of the jaw. Repeat at regular intervals.

Snooze…

Picture grandad asleep on the couch after Christmas lunch — body slumped, head lolling. Now let yourself do the same. Imagine nodding off into a deep, relaxing sleep. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after a sixty second snooze.

Breathe…

Imagine that you’re inhaling fresh mountain or rainforest air, or savouring some other perfume or fragrance. Breathe deeply, drawing oxygen deep into the lungs as you tilt your head back and close your eyes.  Imagine the air swirling down into the lungs, then breathe out as though you were slowly exhaling a thick blue plume of smoke.

Gratitude…

is a great attitude. When you catch yourself complaining or being critical call to mind something you’re thankful for — the first kiss your partner planted on your lips, an unexpected gift, a perfect sunny day, or something pleasing you can hear, see or taste. Relish the moment.

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