Very little in life feels quite as fantastic as replying to someone who’s gone ahead and done you wrong with a heartfelt “go eff your actual self”. In that moment, telling someone off and getting something off your chest makes you feel so much better. But an hour or so later? Not so much. See, what happens after you open your mouth or let loose your typing fingers to unleash the proverbial fury is that you’re left feeling like an unhinged bully who can’t blend in in polite society. And once your rational mind kicks back in, you’ll be left to contend with a lapful of consequences for your momentarily delicious actions. You can practise this easy way to reduce stress anywhere, any time A thing called mindfulness, when properly learned and applied, can do wonders here. Before we get into what mindfulness actually is, it might be helpful to describe what it isn’t. The opposite of mindfulness is, plainly, paying no mind. To not be mindful is to just fart whatever comes to mind first out of your mouth. Think about that for a minute. Do you do this? Now think about this: that’s what babies do. To not practise mindfulness, or to not even try, is to navigate life like a baby does. When a baby is confused, they’ll do some really out-there things. If a baby wants something and you don’t give it to them, they’re liable to take one of their sticky baby hands and smack you in the mouth. If they’re of speaking age, they might come after you with an impromptu “You have a DUMB HEAD!” They might smear poop on the walls. Wild stuff. Who knows. This is how babies respond to conflict and hurt feelings. Do you want to live like a baby? Probably not (although not having to prepare your own meals, clean your own body, talk in full sentences, or walk upright sounds kind of luxurious). Mindfulness is the practice of being in a situation or being confronted with information, be it welcome or unwelcome, and taking a beat or two before you respond. Does that seem easy? It’s far from it. But it can be learned. 5 tips to help you reclaim control over your work-life balance First learn to pause before you respond to things, so your most (natural) first reactions have some breathing room to calm, collect. Then go with option B, which is something along the lines of “OK!” When you’re at a loss for how to respond to something, or about to tell someone to eat their own excrement, just say or type “OK!” And then allow yourself the option to think more about it later and do whatever you decide is best. You’ll get way more out of an “OK!” than a “You know what, I never liked you. Not for even one second.” Being under lockdown, or being socially distanced is a great time to practise some mindfulness. If mindfulness is a concept that’s entirely new to you, or something you feel you’re just not good at, why not give this exercise a whirl as you’re chatting with your uncle? That uncle who loves filling your Facebook feed with Trump content, who asks you why you’re not top of the class, who keeps on nagging about how your last relationship was the best you’ll ever had, who *will* say something that will make you want to lash out, which will only make him say more stuff you don’t like. Instead, take a deep breath, count to five, and say … nothing. Say nothing at all. And for your reward, glance up slowly for a good peep at the offending person’s befuddled face, red with frustration over your refusal to engage. Yum. Tastes good. Tastes like some piping-hot mindfulness.