Wellness and self-care are hot topics these days and rightly so.  The importance of paying attention to one’s physical and mental health can’t be over-estimated.  

Often, when I encounter an article or discussion on these ideas, I am offered an array of possible options. These can be getting a massage or facial, taking a vacation, or simply taking a walk in nature. These are all excellent options but also often require a certain amount of time, pre-planning and resources.   What about those times when your day is getting the best of you and you have a deadline to make, calls and emails are piling up and you still have errands to run. It’s not always possible that we can take a vacation or skip out for a massage at the times we most need it. This is where a micro-practice can save the day (or at least reduce your stress level.)

Photo by Luemen Rutkowski on Unsplash

So what exactly is a micro-practice?  Meditation and mindfulness practices are often recommended as ways to relieve tension and manage stress, but you may be short on time and the thought of taking twenty minutes out of your day doesn’t feel practical in the moment.  A micro-practice might be closing your door, shutting your eyes, and taking two to three minutes to breathe deeply. Deep breathing is a tried-and-true way to calm both the body and mind and taking this sort of “timeout” can reset your nervous system and reduce feelings of stress.

A micro-practice should not take more than a few minutes.  Because they support both physical and mental well-being, they can help us to be more present, more thoughtful and calmer.

Here are a few examples to try the next time your stress level seems to be getting the best of you.

Take a Break Outdoors

The soothing effects of the natural world have been well-documented, but you may not have easy access to a forest or a peaceful lake. At these times, taking just a few minutes to sit or walk outside in the sunshine, noticing the breeze or the sound of the birds can make a difference in restoring us to at least some sense of peace.  

Take a Stretch Break

If you work at a desk or computer for much of the day, taking five minutes to stretch can relieve tension and alleviate the stress on the body of sitting for long periods.  Try a yoga pose, such as Downward Dog or a Sun Salutation.  A few minutes of stretching can help reset your body and mind.

Active Listening

Active listening is giving our full attention to someone and being fully present in that moment.  Taking a few minutes to be present for another person can take the focus off ourselves and our stressors and offer perspective to both of you.  Or simply try being still and listening to a beautiful piece of music you enjoy.  

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is another proven aid to calming both body and mind.  A yoga breath that I have found helpful and recommend to others is simply:  Take a deep breath in through your nose as you silently count to four, hold for a second and exhale through your mouth to the count of eight.  Doing this three times takes no more than three minutes and can work wonders in restoring you to a sense of balance and focus.  


Another well-researched practice that can restore a sense of equilibrium is gratitude.  Take two minutes and write down everything you are grateful for, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.  Note the almost instantaneous positive effect on your psyche!

A mindfulness practice such as simply being present in the moment, taking in the sights and sounds around you, can be done anywhere and can make a big difference in restoring a sense of balance in the middle of a hectic day. 

Try any of these or come up with your own that work well for you.  You don’t have to wait for “when you have time,” for self-care.  You can begin today to weave it into your daily life and reap the benefits. 

I would love to hear from you, so write a comment below or on my Facebook page.

Categories: Wellness