“Everybody here has something that they're fighting, and it may be visible, it may not be, but please, take some time and focus on you instead of others, and I bet you can win those challenges and really start accomplishing so many great things.”
– D ean Furness in a TED Talks about not comparing yourself to others.
Check In With a Body Scan
Notice your feet. Do you feel your shoes pressing against them? The fabric of your socks? Are they warm or cold, relaxed, or tense?
Congrats – you just did the beginnings of a body scan meditation. Yep - it’s that easy! You simply direct your attention to each body part in turn, noticing how it feels.
Body scan meditations are great for tuning in to your body and its sensations. They encourage us to connect with our physical self – without our usual preoccupations and judgments.
A 2014 study found that a 10 min mindfulness-based body scan was effective at relieving chronic pain. In a 2019 study , an 8-week program of body scans led to lower markers of stress. And a 2020 study found body scan meditations improved sleep in insomniacs.
Want to try it for yourself? There are plenty of guided audio tracks online. Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center has a free guided body scan meditation that takes just a couple of minutes. Or if you want to go deeper, they also have one that lasts for 45 minutes here .
Walk It Out
Going for a walk is easy to do, enjoyable, and free. Even better – it makes you more focused, creative, and productive.
Experiments show , for example, that walking “opens up the free flow of ideas” and improves creative thinking on a task. These results were found to be strongest when participants walked outdoors compared to indoors, so do get outside if you can.
Of course, walking is also great for health – so there’s really no downside!
Maybe the Latin phrase s olvitur ambulando sums it up best: taken literally it means, “It is solved by walking.” Next time you’re stuck on a problem or unable to focus, try getting out for a walk – you might just find it’s the easiest solution around.
Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace
As a former Buddhist monk and co-founder of the Headspace app, Andy Puddicombe is no stranger to meditation. Does it factor into his current morning routine? You bet . He:
- Wakes up naturally at 4.30 am. “The first thing I do when I wake up is take a moment to appreciate that I’ve woken up.”
- Does his first workout for the day – usually 1 hour of cardio.
- Stretches and meditates.
- Eats breakfast, which is the same every morning. (Sheep’s yoghurt with a crumbled up vegan Core bar, tiger nut granola, dried fruit, and nuts.)
- Starts work. “My mornings are spent either in the recording studio or in meetings.”
Why it works:
- Waking up early has benefits like better mood and sleep quality.
- According to research, people who do cardio in the morning are more alert, have more energy, and make healthier food choices throughout the day.
- Meditation has countless benefits – see our tip on body scan meditations above!
- Eating the same breakfast every morning reduces what’s known as ‘decision fatigue’. AKA, you don’t have to think about it and can save your mental energy for bigger decisions.
If you’re still on the fence about meditation, it’s worth giving Puddicombe’s short TED talk a watch. In it, he stresses that all you need is as little as 10 mindful minutes a day.
Says Puddicombe: “We are so distracted that we're no longer present in the world in which we live. We miss out on the things that are most important to us. [...] Meditation offers the opportunity, the potential to step back and to get a different perspective, to see that things aren't always as they appear.