Meditation. It’s the thing we’re all told we should try, but few of us actually do.

With our never-ending texts and emails, project lists, activities and obligations, setting aside time to decompress seems like a luxury we can never find time for.

The idea of sitting and “doing nothing” is hard to accept. In fact, most people struggle with the concept of wasted time. We feel we must always be doing something, whether that’s work, running errands or meeting with friends. Even evenings, during our sit-and-do-nothing time, we’re watching TV or enjoying hobbies until we close our eyes.

This constant stimulation can lead to large amounts of stress, loss of focus, fatigue, brain fog and anxiety.

If you feel like you’re being pulled in a hundred directions each day, it becomes necessary to make yourself a priority. Taking just a few moments to clear your mind and refocus can benefit both your mental and physical well-being. Often, you’ll find it takes less time to clear your mind than to figure out what to watch on TV.

Even if you’ve never meditated before, the following practices can help you quickly refocus and feel less fatigued and overwhelmed:

  1. Focus on basic breathing. Find a place where you can sit comfortably and undisturbed for five minutes This can be on your couch, outside if the weather is nice or even at your work desk. Set a timer. (I recommend using your phone on vibrate.) Place your hands palms-up on your thighs or desk. Close your eyes and start breathing in a rhythmic pattern. Focus on your breathing as best you can. If it helps, count each breath (first breath in is 1, breath out is 2) up to 10, and then start over. Once your timer goes off, you can pop back into whatever it was you were doing. This will help you return to your day’s activities more refreshed.
  1. Repeat a silent mantra. Pick a word or simple phrase like “focus,” “relax” or “breathe.” Start repeating that word or phrase in your mind while trying to align it with your breathing. Repeat your mantra for at least 30 seconds. This rhythmic and consistent action will help you clear your mind and resume your task with a sharper focus. Since you don’t have to close your eyes, you can do this while standing in a grocery store line or in other public settings. Simply breathe and focus on your mantra. It’s also great to try before speaking at a meeting because it helps you collect your thoughts.
  1. Meditate while walking. Although a bit more advanced, this technique becomes easier with practice. While standing still, focus on your lower body. Be aware of how your feet, ankles and legs feel. Then, slowly start moving. Notice the sensations of walking as each foot touches and leaves the ground. Synchronize your breathing for at least 30 steps. Because this technique is so relaxing, some people go on hour-long meditation strolls. You can end your walk with some simple stretches that engage the rest of your body. This practice not only helps you relax and focus, but it also helps you recognize and release tension. It’s easy to do on your lunchbreak, on a slow-moving treadmill, or even while doing laps around your coffee table as you wait on hold with your phone.

When you start making yourself and “being in the moment” part of your everyday activity, you are likely to experience benefits in your professional and personal life. Studies show that short but consistent mindfulness activities and meditation help reduce stress, improve emotional health and attention span, prevent memory loss and reduce blood pressure.

Many EAP counselors use mindfulness activities in their practices. If you have an employee assistance program, use it to connect with a therapist who can help you find practical mindfulness strategies that work for you.