How Busy People Find The Time for Mindfulness & Movement: The Waiting Game

I have heard this one many times before, and I have even said it myself,

“I’m so busy, I just don’t have time for _______.”

I just don’t have the time to sit and meditate. I just don’t have the time to fit in a workout today. Usually the posts I’ve seen that follow up on this universal concern, lead with the proclamation that “well we make time for what we really care about.” Ouch. I remember reading statements like that and feeling so defeated. Of course I care! I care about my health and I know you care too. However, caring about your health and recognizing the importance of moving your body regularly or meditating to ease mental tension, doesn’t mean it’s easier to actually do it. You might still find yourself saying “ok but when the heck do I actually have the time????”

The rest of this blog post will provide you with some real life tips on where we can create a little more space in our schedule and find the time for mindfulness or movement, or both, on even our busiest of days!

Apart from writing out your schedule and actually blocking out time for 10, 20, or even 30 minutes of movement or meditation, you’d be surprised with how much time you might already have available to you while you’re doing something we all have to do at some time or other during the day:


((What did you think I was going to say? 😂))

We spend a decent amount of time waiting. Waiting for our coffee to brew, waiting for the Zoom meeting to start, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting in traffic, waiting to pick up kids from school, waiting for the oven to preheat or the microwave timer to go off. I’m sure you can think of many examples in your day when you find yourself in that momentary transition time of waiting.

Initially, we might find ourselves frustrated when we have to wait. But waiting is actually a gift. The gift of time! If you notice yourself becoming annoyed the next time you have to wait, perhaps reaching for your phone to scroll through social media, take a moment to pause and consider this time as an opportunity to practice some mindfulness or movement.

Here are some things you can do while waiting:

  • Find your breath. Where do you feel the breath in the body? The nostrils? Chest? Belly? How is the pace and depth of your breath? Would it feel good to take a deep breath in and sigh it out?
  • Stretch it out. Tilt your head from side to side and look around to stretch your neck. If space allows, you might stretch your legs, reach your arms up over your head, or even take a nice spine twist to ease any built up tension in the body.
  • Notice the sounds around you. What can you hear as you wait? Often we try to distract ourselves while waiting by turning up the volume of music in our cars or putting in our earbuds, but what if you took a moment to pay attention to the sounds around you? Are there any sounds from outside that you can hear? People talking off in the distance? A clock ticking? Wind rustling leaves or birds chirping? The soft hum of a fan? Let yourself play the roll of observer and notice all the sounds you can hear.
  • DIY massage. Perhaps after a stretch or a quick body scan, you notice your shoulders or calf muscles are feeling a little tight. Take the time while you wait to use your fingers and rub out any tension you find. Gently rubbing your middle and pointer fingers on your temples and brow line might also feel great.
  • Mini-movement sessions. Can you add any movement to the body while you wait? Maybe it’s getting up and walking around, some seated cat and cow stretches, or doing calf-raises while you wait in line. Get creative! Use this minute, or two, to move. Even just a little movement can be refreshing.

Switching up your go-to reactions and actions any time you have to wait, can help you notice that you DO have the time for mindfulness and movement. Unfortunately this is sometimes easier said than done. As Jan Chozen notes in the book How to Train A Wild Elephant,

“Many of us have a mind that measures self-worth in terms of productivity. If I did not write a book, give a speech, bake bread, earn money, sell something, buy something, get a good grade on a test, or find my soul mate, then my day was wasted and I am a failure.”

Waiting, especially unexpected time when we have to wait, can be very frustrating. Since our society glorifies productivity and overworking, waiting might feel like this huge road block, keeping you from getting everything done that you need to. The goal here is not to find something else to do while you wait, but to allow yourself the freedom and permission to spend your time waiting by simply being.

Whether you’d like to spend that time simply being in stillness or being in movement is up to you, but try not to think of mindfulness or movement breaks as just something else to add to your to-do list. If we think of mindfulness or movement as just something else to check off our productivity list, our workaholic minds think of mindfulness and movement as work instead of something we can do as a little retreat from our busy lives. In time, we might be able to let go of that rushed and “busy busy busy” feeling while still viewing ourselves as accomplished and productive.

Hopefully you can start to recognize the times you have to wait as gifts, unexpected moments of additional time added to your schedule, and times when you don’t have to get anything done but can simply be present with yourself 😊

P.S. If you liked this post, you might also enjoy this other bit on how even just 10 minutes of movement can do the body good: Are shorter workouts worth it?

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