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How to find the best time to meditate

You may be wondering, when is the best time to meditate? Or, how can I possibly set aside time to meditate when I’m already overwhelmed and overbooked? The truth is, meditation can be one of the best ways to help you find a sense of calmness and clarity, especially when you’re feeling frantic and out of control. Here are some tips for finding the best time to meditate — even when you think you’re too busy to squeeze it in.

Why finding time to meditate is important

There’s an old saying that if you can’t find 10 minutes in the day to meditate, you probably need 20 minutes. In other words, if life is so hectic that you can’t spend 10 minutes being mindful and present, then that’s probably a sign you need to push pause and reassess your priorities. It may be that you need to scale back in some areas of your life in order to make room for more valuable and healthful activities — like taking care of your mind. How can you expect to manage the stress of so many commitments and responsibilities if you’re constantly overwhelmed by difficult thoughts and emotions?

The research underscores the negative impact that not prioritizing our minds can have on our lives. Psychologists from Harvard University found that people spend almost 47 percent of their waking hours lost in thought. This constant mind-wandering is a direct cause of unhappiness. Thinking about things that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or may never happen at all almost half of the time can take a serious toll on mental health.

After all, you rely on your mind day in and day for so many things — thinking, being creative, solving problems, interacting with others, just to name a few. You owe it to your mind to find time to meditate so you can have an understanding and appreciation of the present moment and the capacity to perform at your very best at everything that you do.

Not only that but thousands of studies show that mindfulness meditation can have significant benefits on mental, physical, and emotional health including reducing stress, promoting healthy, restful sleep, increasing focus, and cultivating compassion.

Through meditation, you can actually rewire your brain to enhance positive traits such as decision-making and compassion, and diminish less positive ones such as fear and anxiety. So, by adding meditation to your to-do list, you’re ultimately removing some of the stress and chaos.

The best time to meditate

Although meditation can be beneficial at any hour of the day, many people find morning to be the best time to meditate because it’s typically the part of the day with the least distractions. By doing it first thing, you ensure that it actually happens; when you put it off, it may become easier to bump it off your to-do list as the day progresses and gets increasingly more hectic.

Plus, meditating in the morning can be a motivating and productive way to start the day. By meditating first thing, you’re putting yourself on track to have a successful day, giving yourself the best opportunity to be fully aware, fully awake, fully calm, and confident that you can handle anything life throws your way. And, many people feel that having a morning ritual such as meditation is grounding — something they always do regardless of unpredictable schedules.

Of course, meditating in the morning may not work for everyone. If that’s the case for you, that’s okay — the best time to meditate is whenever you can prioritize it. Do you typically take a walk after lunch or have a break late in the afternoon? Those can both be ideal times to meditate — just try your best to commit yourself to your practice and make sure nothing else gets in the way.

Tips for finding time to meditate

Making your practice part of your daily routine is key to forming a habit and getting it to stick. One of the best ways to make sure that you can always find time to meditate regardless of your schedule is by always aiming to do it at the “same time, same place,” when you know you’ll have minimal distractions.

Another way is to relate it to another activity — an anchor habit — that you already do as part of your existing daily routine. For example, “I will meditate for five minutes as soon as I’ve finished brushing my teeth.” Research shows that utilizing anchor habits can be very effective: once it becomes part of your daily routine, it will be difficult to avoid doing it.

Being flexible is also important when you are trying to find time to meditate. Not every day will look the same, which might mean you have to be okay moving your meditation to a different place or time. Try not to give in to the temptation to skip it all together. And, of course, if you do miss a session, don’t sweat it or beat yourself up. Instead, focus on getting back on track: What do you need to do tomorrow to make sure you’re able to find the time to meditate?

How Headspace can help you find time to meditate

Using a guide or a guided meditation app — like the Headspace app — can be a useful tool for helping you find time to meditate. Headspace offers single meditations and multi-day courses covering everything from stress and compassion to sleep, focus, and more to help motivate you to set time aside each day and build momentum in your practice. There are also super-short one-minute meditations that will keep you on track even on those inevitable days when you only have a minute or two to practice. Sign up for free, and start making meditation — and a healthier, happier life — a priority.

READ NEXT: How to start a morning meditation practice

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