With fun open offices, social media that inspires, and digital news that keeps us constantly connected to the world IRL *and* online, finding quiet time for self-care can be a real challenge. It might seem like it’s not a big deal to spend your day moving quickly from one thing to the next, but missing out on moments of peace can actually have consequences. In fact, studies show that silence actually helps cells develop in the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Even more, a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review suggests that being quietly receptive can help you find a deeper mode of attention where your best ideas exist. Convinced that you need a little bit more peace and quiet? Here’s how to get it, no matter how busy you are.

1. Squeeze in small blocks of quiet time. It can be hard to cultivate calm when you’re dashing from one thing to the next — be it at work, at home, or in between. While finding a big block of downtime might not always be possible, do your best to buffer in super-short breaks when you can. This could mean spending five minutes reflecting at your desk after a call, saving the last 10 minutes of your lunch break to sit by yourself in an out-of-the-way corner, or taking a walk around the block before getting on a packed bus or train to commute back to your ‘hood.

2. Step away from social media. It might be digital instead of a physical intrusion, but social media sites and apps are constantly buzzing with activity that ranges from attention-grabbing notifications to ever-scrolling feed updates. This chaos, while fun and interesting, can feel noisy even when your phone is on silent! Escape it for a little bit by stepping back. Try holding off until lunchtime, or spend evening hours without it. Ready to take it a step further? Try avoiding *all* digital media and news for a fixed amount of time. You’d be surprised how much mental energy and emotion scrolling through national headlines or the latest entertainment gossip can take — completely counterproductive to letting yourself unplug or press pause.

3. Turn off your phone. If stepping away from online media alone isn’t enough, power down for a little bit. Turn off your phone after dinner or in the early-morning hours. If you don’t feel comfortable completely shutting it off, try using the “Do Not Disturb” mode to make sure nothing that isn’t truly urgent will interrupt the precious time you get to spend reading, meditating, or enjoying a run. If you’re still feeling the pressure to respond even after freeing yourself from calls and texts, try turning off your email or making it accessible via desktop only. Tiny pings and asks are all it takes to majorly distract from intentional quiet time.

4. Leave your headphones at home. Though a proven mood-booster, even seemingly mellow music can be super-stimulating — so try enjoying a quiet walk without your headphones. The natural sounds of your surroundings can help bring on a sense of calm that invites information processing, relaxation, and restored creativity. Science shows that getting out in nature offers additional benefits too, like restored mental energy, stress relief, improved concentration, and sharper thinking abilities. Sounds to us like it’s time to hit the trails.

Does quiet time help you excel in work and life? Tweet us how you create calming moments for yourself @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)