Melinda Gates has some great advice on how working parents can reduce stress

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Jason Bell/Pivotal Ventures

  • Melinda Gates is best known as philanthropist running one of the world’s largest charitable foundations with her husband, Bill.
  • But she has a number of jobs of other jobs as well, including being a mom to three kids.
  • Although her schedule is often jam-packed she’s got a trick for reducing stress that any parent can use.

Melinda Gates is best known as a philanthropist running one of the world’s largest charitable foundations with her husband, Bill. But she has a number of jobs of other jobs as well.

She owns and runs a company called Pivotal Ventures, which invests in and incubates projects that fall outside the foundation’s mandates. These projects be investing in for-profit startups or women-led venture capital funds. Or it may be research and projects that focus on workplace issues.

She travels globally meeting with world leaders, the people benefiting from her investments and speaking on topics from birth control to family leave policies. Her schedule can be so tight, she’s sometimes scheduled for back-to-back meetings in 20-minute increments.

Yet, one of her biggest jobs is being the mom to three teenage kids.

And she’s got a great piece of advice for working parents: meditate for a few minutes every day, particularly a few minutes before you come home each evening.

“I use Headspace myself, the mediation app. And it’s 10 minutes a day,” Gates said.

Read: This meditation device changed my life by calming my anxiety and helping me sleep great – even when I travel

If finding 10 minutes seems impossible, she says you can split it up into two five-minute sessions.

“You can fit in one five minute meditation in the morning and one five-minutes in the evening before you come home from work. It will calm you down. Especially when you are having a busy or stressful day at work, it will help you be more receptive to your child when you come home.”

Headspace is a popular app that promises to make meditation easy, with guided meditations that focus on things like stress, anxiety, focus, and sleep. Bill Gates uses it too.

In fact Bill once blogged about how the app turned him from a meditation skeptic to a believer. It was created by Andy Puddicombe a former ordained Buddhist. Bill and Melinda liked his work so much, they called him up and he gave the Gates family some personal mediation lessons.

Headspace costs $13/month or $95 annually. Others of its ilk include Calm and Insight Timer. There’s also a brainwave sensing device Muse, which costs about $160-$250, and includes an app as well.

If all of that is too pricey for you, there a plenty of free guided meditations available, like this list from the Chopra Center.

And there’s simply setting your timer and doing box breathing: a four-count breath in, pause for 1-2 counts, then a six-count breath exhale. Box breathing has been proven to reduce stress.

Or, you can close your eyes, and with each exhale relax a different part of your body while thinking: “relax my brow, relax my jaw, relax my shoulders” and so on down to your toes.

Gates has found that 10 minutes a day with Headspace makes all the difference in reducing stress, increasing focus and improving sleep. “And the better you sleep the less stressed you are,” she says.