Take time out to sharpen the axe!

As the old saying goes, you have to take time out from chopping the tree to sharpen the axe. Since your mind is one of your main tools, it’s vital to keep it sharp. By pausing to take a mindfulness break throughout the day, you’re doing the axe-sharpening work.

Here are three tips to help support a mindfulness break:

1-Breathe mindfully for a few minutes. Bring all your attention to your breath as it moves in and out of your body. You may want to notice the coolness of the air as you breathe in and its warmth as you breath out—or you may want to notice your chest rising and falling. Anytime your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. Alternatively, count with each breath until you reach 40. (Or 50, or 60 …)

2-Listen mindfully for a few minutes. Sit in a comfortable position and gently lower your eyelids. Notice the sounds you hear. Try not to judge the sounds with thoughts of liking or not liking. Simply listen. As thoughts enter your mind, see if you can release them and bring your attention back to what you hear.

3-Hang a reminder in your office space. It can be challenging to remember to pause for your break. Hang a picture of something from nature or anything that reminds you to take a moment and pause. You could even schedule your breaks into your calendar.

By doing this axe-sharpening work, you’re clearing your mind and improving your focus for the tasks that lie ahead. Mindfulness breaks are available to you most anywhere and anytime. Taking a break just takes intention—and remembering!