4 Easy Ways to Build More Bliss into Your Life

Try these stress busters for the new yearTry these stress busters for the new year. . . And feel less stress. Timeouts may be torture for kids, but for overworked adults they're sheer pleasure. Problem is, who has time for a meaningful mental break? Actually, you do. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that meditating for just 12 minutes a day can improve your mood. "You don't need to be a Buddhist monk to reap the benefits of mindfulness," says Andy Puddicombe, founder of GetSomeHeadSpace.com. "Inner peace can be achieved in the time it takes to make a sandwich." Here, Puddicombe offers a day's worth of mini-breaks to clear your mind.

1. Fine-tune your focus for the day ahead.

Sit in a comfortable chair near a window, with your feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. Take five slow, deep breaths while gazing straight ahead. Return to a natural breathing rhythm and imagine the sun's rays coming through the window and warming you to the core, its brightness melting away all of your stress and clearing your mind. (If it's a gray day outside, envision a gentle rain washing away your tension.) Enjoy the sensation for a few minutes, then slowly stretch your arms and legs before rising.

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2. Keep calm during your commute.
Take a minute to center yourself as you're riding the train or bus: Sit up straight and focus on your butt pressing against the seat. Start by listening to the sounds around you--muffled music from someone else's earphones, the buzz of people talking--then let each of your other senses take center stage for a minute.

What do you see, smell, and feel? Now, embrace all of your senses simultaneously: Think of them as parts of an orchestra coming together. Notice how everything is always moving and imagine yourself as part of this ever-changing environment, rather than being stressed by it.

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3. Reclaim your lunch hour.
Before taking that first bite, spend two minutes doing nothing. Just relax and leave work behind. Now, make like a Top Chef judge and really be aware of what you're eating. Slowly unwrap your meal and take in its aroma. Imagine where the food came from: Envision the ingredients growing on a farm, sprouting from a seed into a vegetable. Chew slowly and pay attention to how the food feels in your mouth--the taste, texture, and temperature on your tongue.

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4. Drift off--no meds required.
Lie in bed with your eyes closed. Take deep breaths as you imagine your mind floating down your body to your feet. Now focus on the pinkie toe of your left foot. Envision an on/off switch for this toe and "power it down" as you would a laptop. Move to the next toe and do the same thing. After each toe has been "shut down," let your mind float back up through your feet and legs to your waist. Repeat the exercise, starting with the small toe of your right foot. Continue powering down as your mind floats up through your legs and waist, but this time, imagine your mind floating all the way up to your head.

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TELL US: How often do you take a mental health break--and what form does it take?


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