by Carol Hendershot, Certified MBSR Instructor


Definition – hack: any procedure or action that solves a problem, simplifies a task, reduces frustration, etc

“Got up late, out of coffee, no time for breakfast. Got to work, vending machine out of yogurt, only candy bars left. Picked up my voicemail, woman yelling, had to hold the phone away from my ear, twenty-page report lost somewhere on my hard drive.”

Sound familiar? Sometimes life starts throwing you gummy bears and it just won’t stop. That probably wasn’t my worst day ever, but it sure wasn’t my best. So what can we do in the midst of the storm?

One-minute mindfulness hacks to save your day.

Hack #1: Take a Breath – This is simple and powerful. Just one deep breath can take you from a serious fight or flight attack to a gentler more nurturing place in your nervous system. If you count to four on the in breath and six or eight on the out breath, it can be even more powerful. Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow (no kidding, that’s his job description) says that, “The One Slow Deep Breath Meditation can release you from worry and regret in only six seconds.” Physiologically, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers stress, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, and calms you down.

Hack #2: Ground Yourself – Wherever you are, stop and bring your attention to your body, feel its solidity and mass. Bring your attention to your feet, feel your feet on the ground. If you can, stand up and feel the weight of your body pressing down into the floor and take a few slow deliberate steps, feeling the sensations on the soles of your feet. Remember for a moment that you have a body.

What does this do for you? When you are grounded you are present in your life, not lost in the past or future. Grounding reminds you that you are solid and stable and you have control over your life.

Hack #3: S.T.O.P. – The STOP practice really captures the essence of mindfulness. Whenever you get triggered, take a moment to (S – Stop, T – Take a breath, O – Observe, and P – Proceed or P – Park.) This simple acronym can help you step out of autopilot, release anxiety, and see your options in a whole new light. From that perspective you can access your wisest self and choose how to respond.

After all, life happens! Each of us has days that are less than perfect. Choose one practice above to keep in your back pocket for greater ease when the going gets rough.