There is the old proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Hundreds of years ago when this proverb came into use it meant that if you only work you would be bored or boring. My point to you is different: All work and no play makes Jack a stressed boy or Jane a stressed girl. This is something you know, but are you willing to try new steps to lower your stress level?

Many activities can help you lower manage stress. Your choice may depend on the time you have available each day to invest in yourself. And I know this is a function of the business you are in, what is going on with your children or family, the demands of your spouse, etc. so the hour and a half hike or bike ride might be out, but you probably have time for 20 minutes of yoga. Again, the idea is to find something to fit into your busy day and the time to do it.

For instance, I have figured out that if I fit things in first thing in the morning it is much more likely they will happen. I have two main things that I try to fit into my daily and weekly routines that lend themselves to the time I have. The first is hiking and the second is meditation.

This morning, before doing anything else, I meditated and then went on a hike. I know some you are thinking meditation is not for everyone, and maybe specifically not for you. I used to think that way too. After learning about it more through a program at work a few years ago, I tried unsuccessfully to incorporate it into my routine a few different times. This summer that changed.

I have meditated almost every day since June. Two things helped me do this. The first was the resolve to make time and see if I found benefits from the activity. Second was the app Headspace, which has guided meditations, including on different topics that you may find interesting such as productivity, stress, etc.

I won’t lie and say that it’s been easy to fit in 10 minutes every day. It’s not. And I know it sounds as funny reading that as it is for me to write it. How can it be hard to find 10 minutes in your day? Trust me, it is. But the benefits I think I get from meditation have focused me on continuing to make it a part of my routine and it is now something I look forward to doing each morning.

Interestingly, I think the hiking I do is an extension of and  related to the meditation in that it puts me in a happy place. For instance, this morning I came up with ideas for blogs, including this one. Before doing that, I finished a podcast involving an interview that I was interested in. Sometimes I listen to the news. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I do think about work, but if I have something such as a trial or deposition that day, odds are I am at home or work preparing and I have changed my routine because of the nature of that day.

These activities together help keep me better centered and less stressed than I would be if I did not do them. And I am not suggesting that each of you should take up meditation and hiking, though I do think you should try meditation. Instead, I think you need to figure out what will help to focus on yourself for even a short time each day to see how it improves your life. Once you do, try to make it a routine and I think you’ll be happy with the results.

And if you want to try meditation, I suggest you go here: