3 Free Meditation Practices to Try During Your Lunch Break
Trying to get over that mid-day slump? Even the busiest parents can squeeze these free meditation practices into their lunch break. The result is a clearer mind, reduced stress, and better concentration.
It seems like working parents never get a break. After juggling an overflowing inbox and back-to-back meetings, they go home to deal with dinner prep, homework help, and bedtime routines. Thankfully, there’s a simple way to calm the mind during your hectic day: meditation.
Meditation is a mind-body practice that emphasizes slowing down to achieve emotional stability and mental clarity. Users rely on techniques such as focused breathing and mindfulness, and they often feel a sense of calm after the practice. And the best part: it’s easy enough to do during your lunch break!
So say goodbye to those sad lunches spent hunched over your keyboard, and start incorporating one of these five free meditation practices into your workday. Your mind and body will thank you.
Exercise Your Mind, Body, or Both
A July 2018 study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology researched the effects of lunchtime activities on mental health. It concluded that a walk in the park was associated with better concentration and less fatigue in the afternoon. You can also take a “listening stroll” to further your meditative practice. Simply walk in silence while listening to your surroundings. Focus on every sound you hear, such as rustling leaves, car horns, and skittering animals. This easy exercise clears your mind, making you feel refreshed to tackle the rest of your to-do list.
Mental relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation, may also benefit your mental health. The July 2018 study outlined above concluded that engaging in relaxation exercises lead to better concentration, as well as decreased strain and fatigue. “Our study suggests that on days on which employees engage in recovering activities during lunch breaks, they experience higher levels of well-being at the end of a working day,” according to the report in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.
Simple mindfulness is something you can do anywhere, whether it’s on a park bench or at your desk. Start by eliminating any distractions; for example, silence your cell phone and close your office door. Then focus on taking deep breaths in and out, slowing letting go of any intrusive thoughts that float into your mind.
You can also practice mindfulness through eating. Push the keyboard aside for a few minutes and concentrate on the taste, texture, and flavor of your food. Really try to savor the dining experience. This practice has many benefits, including increased satisfaction after a meal, a calmer mind, and less chance of overeating.
Try a Guided Meditation
Parents can download plenty of apps that provide guided meditations for little or no cost. One option is Stop, Breathe & Think (free; App Store and Google Play). The app encourages you to check in with your emotions—do you feel irritated, self-critical, tired, relaxed, creative, etc.? It also helps you choose a guided meditation. Most sessions last from three minutes to seven minutes, so you can easily fit them in between meetings. You’ll finish with a clearer mind, improved focus, and reduced stress.
If you don't want to use an app, you can also access Stop, Breathe & Think from your laptop. Set up wherever you feel most comfortable, whether it's an empty conference room, outdoor bench, or nearby coffee shop. Then choose one of the 19 free meditations from the website.
Each of the meditations is geared toward specific goals, such as mindful breathing, kindness, joy, and forgiving yourself. Here are some of our top picks for your lunch break.
Body Scan: Calm yourself in 8.5 minutes by bringing awareness to each part of your body. No movement required!
Gratitude: When you're overwhelmed by work, it's easy to lose sight of what really matters. This practice promotes happiness through gratitude.
Cause and Effect: You're the force behind your future. With this practice, you'll "learn to stay in the driver’s seat of your choices."
Compassion: It's easy to think about yourself throughout the workday. This practice shifts the focus to others, leading you to feel happier and more connected.
Relax, Ground and Clear: Do you simply want clearer focus and mental stability? This 6.5-minute session might do the trick!