Modern life is the cause of both great stress and distraction for us.
These forces are two of the primary culprits which detract us from finding inner peace and ultimately happiness. But what are we supposed to do?
Just stop. Stop everything. Stop looking at your phone, stop working, stop running around and stop worrying. For 30 seconds, simply breathe. That is, become mindful of your breath. It's always there. But it's when we lose track of it that we lose track of ourselves.
So for 30 seconds practice mindfulness of the breath. To do this, put your complete and 100% focus on the act of breathing and on the breath itself. Do not seek to control your breathing, simply observe it silently. Your breath will calm itself once your focus begins to sharpen.
Don't think about your work, don't think about what you're going to make for dinner, don't think about what you're going to do about rent or your mortgage or any other bills, and don't even think about your kids. Empty your mind completely.
I know it's hard. I know you're right in the middle of your day and you could just as easily run past this and forget to do it.
Don't do that. Make it a priority. Realize that you being at peace affects your performance, your mood, your happiness and the performance, mood, and happiness of all the people you come in contact with. This is important. Treat it as such.
So as thoughts come, because you know they will, simply give them a friendly acknowledgment and let them float by as if on the current of a peaceful river. Now come back to your breath.
Alternatively, you can take those 30 seconds to read this short poem. As you read each word, take a deep and slow inhale and exhale. After the first couple of lines begin to relax your entire your body. Written by Thich Nhat Hanh, I've used this many times to calm my breathing and put myself back in control of my mind:
The breath is the axis with which the mind and body preside. By learning to control your breath you not only learn how to calm and control your mind but you learn how to control your body as well. The breath is an incredible agent for physical healing.
Both of these practices calm your breathing and give you back control of your mind. Ideally, we should strive to practice mindfulness all day long. But I know as well as anyone how hard that is if you lead even a halfway normal life.
I take 30 seconds every hour of my day from 8 AM to 7 PM to do this practice. You can easily do the same by setting up a reminder on your phone that goes off every hour. When your reminder goes off, take about 30 seconds to practice mindful breathing and you'll immediately notice a difference in how you feel.
No matter what you're doing, stop and take a moment to breathe mindfully. If you're driving either pull over or practice your breathing once you've gotten to your destination. If you're with someone else, have them practice with you. If you rather practice alone for now, that's fine, go into another room or the restroom for a moment.
You can do this discretely in front of your computer or a number of other locations. Don't accept the excuses you give yourself as to why you can't do this. Again, make this a priority and you'll experience the full benefit of the practice.
If you do this and keep at it, you'll notice a significant difference in your mood and stress levels. You'll begin to feel..... at peace.