Think back to the last time you remember feeling unhurried: nothing particular to do, just a stretch of time to catch your breath. If it’s difficult to recall, you’re not alone. With the pinging of messages and social media notifications creating a constant pull for our attention, time really does feel like the ultimate luxury.

Consider this an invitation to begin reclaiming your time — even if it’s five minutes looking at clouds or strolling slowly through a garden. As Matthew Broderick’s character says in the classic 1980s film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Where to find pockets of time

  • Wake up 15 minutes early.
  • Don’t check email or social media before breakfast.
  • Instead of procrastinating at work, get up and do something else for 5 minutes instead.
  • Do something creative on your lunch break.
  • Turn off any notifications you may be receiving on your phone. Instead, choose to check messages when it’s convenient for you.
  • Trade child care with other parents so you can each have some time to yourselves.
  • Be intentional about which TV shows and movies you choose to watch. Don’t channel surf.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC, original photo on Houzz

Watch the clouds. Once you’ve found a few pockets of time, what do you do? One of my favorite mini-mindfulness activities that can be practiced just about anywhere is cloud watching. If you’re in an office building, look out a window or step outside and look up, and then soften your gaze and simply notice the clouds overhead. Take some deep breaths, and relax into the moment.

Water plants by hand. Sure, an automatic drip system is more efficient — but it’s not nearly as satisfying as standing outdoors in your garden clogs, surrounded by the soothing shhhh sound of the hose. Of course, even if you do rely on an irrigation system to handle most of the watering, there are still likely some potted plants that could use a bit of personal attention. Fill your favorite watering can or attach an adjustable nozzle to your hose and give your plants some TLC.

Union of Art, Inc, original photo on Houzz

Sip coffee or tea in peace. It sounds simple enough in theory — but when was the last time you enjoyed an entire cup of coffee or tea without also doing something else, like checking email or reading the news?

Mindfully sipping your favorite cuppa is one way to start your day on a positive note. Instead of sipping and scrolling through an endless feed, focus on the scent and rich flavor of your coffee or tea, the view out the window, and the comfortable feel of your favorite chair.

Blow bubbles. Kids know: Bubbles are magic. Whether or not you’re a parent, pick up a bottle of bubble solution (or mix your own) and sit on the porch blowing bubbles. Bubbles are so joyful, you’re bound to coax smiles from even the most curmudgeonly passerby.

Jessica Cain, original photo on Houzz

Sit outdoors and listen. No book, no phone, no idle chatter. Close your eyes. Just listen. What do you hear — birdsong, the wail of a far-off fire truck, the hiss of sprinklers, a screened door slamming shut? Get to know the unique symphony of your neighborhood.

Spend time with a furry friend. Spending time with our pets is good for our mental health (and they certainly appreciate it too). Take your pup for an extra-long walk, or curl up on the sofa with Kitty. 

Related: Find Fun Cat Furniture and Toys for Playing With Your Pet

Mia Mortensen Photography, original photo on Houzz

Practice an instrument. It doesn’t matter if you play the oboe or electric guitar, and it doesn’t matter how good you are. Practicing a musical instrument of any kind is a mindful activity by nature: You simply must focus on what you’re doing and nothing else! Don’t worry if you don’t have a huge pocket of time; even a short practice session can have wonderful benefits.

Make art. Whether it’s beginning a painting on canvas or sketching on scratch paper at the kitchen table, giving yourself time to be creative is a nourishing practice. And nope, it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself an artist. Focus on enjoying the process, and don’t worry about the end product.

SIMONE AUGUSTIN PHOTOGRAPHY, original photo on Houzz

Write in a journal. It doesn’t need to be beautiful prose. It doesn’t even need to be a typical “Dear Diary”-type entry at all. Just pick up your pen and write. See what happens! It could be a list, a rant, a gratitude, or one small, simple memory preserved, like a pressed flower in ink on paper.

Related: These Desk Lamps Shine a Light on Journaling

Walk slowly through a beautiful garden. If you don’t have a garden, see if there is a public garden to explore nearby. Turn off your phone and slow your pace, stopping to examine whatever catches your eye. And yes, by all means smell the roses.

Original article written by Laura Gaskill on Houzz.