Just 5 Minutes a Day



My work commute door-to-door is about an hour each way. While I absolutely do not mind taking the train (when it is on schedule), I do not enjoy the second leg of my trip, which involves the subway. I mean, what is not to like about the smell of urine or a person sprawled out in a subway car taking up an entire row? 

In December, as I began to reflect upon the last decade, I was proud of many things I had accomplished; marrying my best friend, purchasing our first home together in Westchester, running the San Diego and NYC Marathons, hiking Machu Picchu, and last but not least, having our beautiful baby girl. 

But as I reflected I noticed that some things had changed internally that I was not proud of. I had slowly started to become an anxious worrywart…some would say ‘ahhh, welcome to parenthood,’ but it began affecting my sleep and my general overall well-being. It would keep me up at night while the rest of the house was fast asleep. Slowly creeping into my mind was lots and lots of negativity. 

Commuting to work annoyed me, the homeless man asking for money daily annoyed me, waiting for anything annoyed me. I became an impatient person when often times people used to describe me as the most patient person in the world. 

When that started happening, I knew that I had to make a change. Rather than overwhelming myself with some huge life change, I started by focussing on sleeping better since SLEEP to me is EVERYTHING and without it, I have a hard time functioning in any capacity. I was already exercising a few times a week, but that no longer was enough to calm my mind. 

I started listening to various podcasts on my commute and many of them focused on mindfulness, mediation, and calming the mind. By the end of 2019, I started putting what I was listening to on my daily commute into practice. For 2020, I vowed to start my day with a few minutes of practice. 

I have to say that I have not been entirely consistent about doing this at the start of the day, but I do generally do it at some point every day. One of the great things about commuting by train is you have some time to yourself with no one bothering you. It’s a great time to practice mediation and mindfulness. 

The change that I made was 5 minutes a day. Sometimes I do more, but at the very least I always do at least 5 minutes per day. With those 5 minutes a day, I have started smiling more, acknowledging people more, sleeping better with less anxiousness, and I am starting to feel like my old self again. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are still nights that I wake up and can’t go back to sleep, but I notice that I am no longer anxious about getting back to sleep and no longer staring at the clock. When I realize I’m not going back to bed, I get up and try to start my day earlier, usually by practicing yoga and meditation. I am absolutely amazed at how just 5 minutes a day of focusing on positivity and being present has changed my mindset and mood. I hope that I keep it up and will let you know how it goes.

What are some things that you do to stay calm and be present?

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Bena is a a wife and mom to a little girl born in July 2017 and another little girl born in April 2021. Her and her husband, both born and raised in Long Island, randomly ended up living in New Rochelle, Westchester when they fell in love with the downtown area, which had the best of two worlds, walking distance to parks, coffee shops, great restaurants and a short drive away from great hikes and nature. Since then they have moved a hop, skip and away to Pelham, which is an adorable little town. Mostly, Bena is just trying to figure out how to do this mom thing, while also working a full-time job. After a few years of the juggling act, she feels a little more confident, but everyday there are new challenges, especially when #2 arrived. When she is not momming, she is usually lawyering, working out, cooking, running errands or somewhere out exploring nature and the world (pre-covid, of course)!