If only you had an extra week of vacation, or a day, or even just a few hours to catch up on life. What about five minutes? It doesn't sound like much, but according to Jeffrey Brantley, MD, director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and co-author of the Five Good Minutes book series, just a few minutes can be enough to reduce anxiety and put your love life, career, or relationship to the Earth back on track.

Each of the four Five Good Minutes books offers 100 practices for dealing with different aspects of life — morning to evening. “There is a constant sense of hurry, worry, urgency, and distraction, and a lot of things happening in our modern life,” explains Brantley. “I encourage people to focus on the present moment. It's not about clock time. It's about reconnecting with the deepest and best parts of ourselves.” Although every five-minute practice differs, Brantley says the basics should remain the same:

First minute Breathe mindfully and be present.

Second minute Set an intention, whether it's to be happier or to be friendlier to a coworker.

Remaining three minutes Act wholeheartedly — laugh and try not to worry or judge yourself.

Relieve stress and bring your best to work

Most of us are extremely dependent on electronics. You may have a beeper or cell phone with you at all times, take your laptop when you travel, or monitor email all day long. Without these items, your work simply cannot get done. Consider taking five minutes for a daily meditation retreat away from all electronics.

Sit upright, relaxed, and alert. Keep your eyes open, with a soft gaze, and place your hands palm-side down on your thighs. Loosen your facial muscles and jaw, leaving your mouth slightly open. Breathe normally and calmly.

Take notice of the simple vibrancy of your immediate surroundings: the murmur of distant voices, the splashes of color around you, the subtle warmth of your hands on your thighs. Allow your senses to come alive.
-from Five Good Minutes at Work (New Harbinger, 2007) by Jeffrey Brantley, MD, and Wendy Millstine, NC

Five Good Minutes In Your Body (New Harbinger) will be released in January 2009. For more information about the stress-busting book series, go to fivegoodminutes.com.