It's important to take a few minutes out of each day to be alone and decompress.

It's important to take a few minutes out of each day to be alone and decompress. Photo: Getty

Like many people living in a big city, I'm stressed. And I am aware how destructive it is. Cast your mind back to when you were trying to get a park at the mall on Christmas Eve and you'll know what I mean. Stress even contributes to unwanted weight gain, which puts it in my firing line. But despite knowing this, I realised on New Year's Day that I've done squat about it for most of my life – apart from tearing the door off the gym a few times a week or wearing out the footpaths of my local area.

I wasn't pondering a new year's resolution, but rather ruminating on the things that did my head in over the past 12 months. Things that, on reflection, I'd like to change in future. Or maybe not do at all.

So after much contemplation, I've come up with the answer. If there's one group of people who know how to relax, it's smokers. We all see them outside city and suburban buildings, puffing away. They're almost like urban sculptures. They're not in any particular hurry. Just standing, often on their own. Quietly sucking on a plain-packaged, heavily-taxed bunger. Usually gazing skywards, watching the smoke peacefully drift away. No rush. Just standing, smoking, relaxing.

I'm not sure they're thinking about much. They look just, well, blank, experiencing a sort of meditation. A few times a day, they separate themselves from the dross of work, reach for their durries and head off for a blissful blanking session. If there are a few of them, usually they're laughing together. No serious conversations being had, no fiscal cliffs or Arab Springs being discussed. Just laughing. And blanking.

Smokers, of all of us, it seems you've got it right when it comes to fitting in "time out" sessions each day. So don't be surprised if you see me hanging with you, an uninvited building forecourt companion, not saying much. Just relaxing.

Just don't blow smoke at me. That stuff will kill you, you know.

Michelle's tip
Build time into your day for four or five quiet moments, guilt-free.