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How to Get “Zen”

As a self-help author and speaker, I’m often fielding questions about how to get “zen” without a full life overhaul. Most of us don’t have time to spend hours on a yoga mat or meditation pillow, and the idea of a stress-free day is lost somewhere between your first cup of coffee and your commute to work. I’ve noticed that the very thought of chilling out can actually ruffle the feathers of even the most well-intentioned ladies. So to ratchet up your happy quotient and find some calm, here are my top three tips:

1. The One-Minute Meditation.  A few years ago, meditation felt completely inaccessible to me. The notion that I could stop my thoughts was beyond comprehension. But meditation is so much more than simply clearing your mind. One of the easiest — and most effective — meditations is a simple one-minute breathing exercise. Though you can do this at any time of day, I like to start my day with this meditation. Find a quiet place to sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Now take a deep breath in through your nose. Count your inhalation — one, one thousand, two one thousand. Now, exhale out of your mouth, counting one, one thousand, two, one thousand, three, one thousand, four, one thousand. Focus your attention on your counting. Repeat this inhalation and exhalation for one full minute. These breaths are calming and cleansing. And drawing your full attention to your counting actually gives your mind a breather, too (no pun intended).

2.  Get Proactive, Not Reactive. Life is constantly throwing stuff at us, practically begging us for a fiery reaction. If you’re anything like me, your reaction comes in a range — from anger to anxiety and everything in between. The slow line at the grocery store, the traffic jam, the coworker who didn’t do her part of that project that’s due in an hour. We’ve all been there. It’s easy to forget that you actually have a choice about how to handle these situations. Get proactive rather than reactive. Take the reigns on the things you can control, don’t dwell on the things you can’t. This sounds simple, but it can totally change your life. I’m still working on this myself.

3. Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy. Too easy? It’s surprising how few of us pay attention to our day-to-day activities (we’re too busy running around!). It’s time to get deliberate about your schedule and build in fun and pleasure to your every day. You don’t need to book a massage or go to the movies (though I’d happily do both, wouldn’t you?). But you do need to find—and do—something that brings you joy. You’ll get a welcome release of endorphins (the happy hormones) that will completely enhance your mood. Just a few minutes on the phone with your best friend or time on the couch with a novel (or your favoriteBravo housewives) can do the trick.

See, you don’t need to trek through the hills of Himalayas to start cultivating more calm and joy.

Alexis Sclamberg is a self-help expert for Millennials. She’s the author of the upcoming book, Borrowed Wisdom and contributes to, The Huffington Post, and Cosmopolitan magazine. These days, you can find her running across the Golden Gate Bridge, shmoozing her way through San Francisco, and inspiring lovely ladies like you to live your greatest life. Follow her on Twitter and read more on her website.

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