Coping with stress when you just don’t have time: The ONE mindful breath

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Our ancestors lived short and often brutal lives that were filled with physical stress and danger. We’re lucky enough to live in a world where most physical threats are kept at bay and where our lifespan just keeps getting longer. However, coping with stress when you just don’t have time is something we can all relate to.

No time to calm down

Yes, we’re all living busy lives filled with psychological stress, and we all need a quick, easy way to calm down that doesn’t take loads of time. 

Everyone’s stressed

I’ve worked with a lot of successful, stressed-out people who’re trying to juggle multiple work demands with the demands of their personal life, including executives, teachers, carers, stay at home parents, professionals, and pretty much everyone living in the 21st century! 

Everyone’s anxious

I truly admire my clients – how hard they work and all the obstacles they’ve overcome to reach whatever position in life they occupy – many fit more into 24 hours than people just one generation ago could fit into a week! Yet despite all the comforts of life they enjoy, most people tend to live with some level of chronic, underlying anxiety

Do you find yourself in a near-constant state of tension? Do you rush around trying desperately to fit in all the demands in your life? Are you looking for a way of coping with stress when you just don’t have time?

Sometimes the coping techniques just add to the stress

When you read an article about how you should meditate or practice yoga or start adult colouring or whatever, do you feel exhausted at the thought of adding in yet another thing? Does this line of thinking just add to the layers of guilt you’re already feeling

This one is really, really quick and easy

This exercise is going to be super helpful in coping with stress when you just don’t have time because it takes less than 20 seconds to do, you can do it anywhere and at any time, you don’t need any special equipment or training, and it even comes naturally to you! 

Blue-Footed Booby Formula: The ONE mindful breath

1. Slowly breathe in through your nose.

– Notice your chest rising as your lungs expand. Take note of the tiny pause at the “top” of the deep breath when your lungs are full and before you automatically begin to exhale

2. Slowly exhale through your mouth, slightly pursing your lips as if you’re blowing gently on something. 

 – Notice your chest falling as your lungs empty.

3. Observe a distinct sense of calm – seriously, if you do this with full focus on “watching” the one deep breath as it enters and leaves your body, it works!

4. Congratulate yourself, you have just reset your busy brain!


Q: Do I need to sit down and close my eyes to do this?

A: No you don’t, but it works even better if you do.

Q: If one breath doesn’t work should I do more?

A: Sure, but take a break to breathe normally for a while between the deep breaths, to make sure that you don’t begin to hyperventilate and make yourself dizzy.

Q: Can children do this exercise?

A: Absolutely, it’s a great way for parents and kids to connect, and calm down together

Q: Should I do this if I don’t feel stressed? 

A: Yes! Do it as often as you like, you can do it multiple times a day. The more you practice the one mindful breath (with breaks in between!), the more likely you are to remember it when you do feel stressed.