There are tons of stressors out there – many of which we encounter on a daily basis. From endless to-do lists, strain and stress from hours in front of a computer, traffic that turns your commute into quite the ordeal…there are plenty of things that we can’t escape from.
No matter the amount of time you have available, there’s a way to lower your stress level and get yourself under control.
If you have 1 minute…
…take a deep breath or repeat a mantra.
Repetition is calming because it gives you something to focus on. Mantras, or positive affirmations, are a great way to do that. Examples include “I will accept the things I cannot change,” “it’s a good day to have a good day” or “being happy is productive.” If that feels silly to you, even just taking a few deep breaths can help relieve stress
…catch up with a friend.
Human interaction is good for everyone. According to NPR, stress has been found to help 71% of people cope with stress. Whether it’s a hug, a laugh, a bit of gossip or just a moment to say “Hi.”
If you have 5 minutes…
…break to look at some photos.
Guided imagery is used to promote relaxation and lower blood pressure by using all of your senses to imaging the details of a calm, relaxing place to connect your mind and body to an equally relaxed state. Keep a folder of images on your desktop, postcards or photos from your favorite places and people, or bookmark a website or blog you find relaxing.
Meditation works for the same reasons mantras and deep breathing work. Making yourself focus on something as simple as one image, one thought or simply the lack of thoughts can bring you to center and help you refocus your energies.
If you have 15 minutes…
…have a cup of tea.
Tea has so many relaxing benefits. Turn your coffee breaks into tea breaks and use the time to either turn your monitor off for a few minutes or to take a break somewhere besides your desk for a few minutes.
…make a to-do list
Nothing feels better than physically crossing something off or erasing it from your life to say that you’re done with it. Make your list, prioritize the million and one things you have to do, and start crossing them off one by one.
…go for a walk.
Whether it’s just around your building or down the street and back, getting up and away from your desk or whatever is stressing you is a great way to refocus and clear your mind. While you’re sitting at the computer, don’t forget to keep your computer glasses handy to relieve the stress on your eyes.
If you have 30 minutes…
There’s nothing like sweating it out to help you de-stress. Exercising releases hormones that improve your mood and also helps with cognitive function and sleep quality. Elle Woods had it right – “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands – they just don’t.”
…take a bubble bath.
Hot baths increase blood circulation and reduce lactic acid on your muscles, making it physically possible for your body to relax. Plus there’s not much else you can do besides relax, or maybe read a book.
If you have an hour…
…do some yoga.
Yoga at the gym or yoga at home with a video, either way it’s a perfect way to relax your whole body. There’s no way you’ll get into some of the poses with tight, sore muscles, so physically relaxing is a must. From there, your mind will follow.
…read a book.
Studies say that even just a few minutes of reading will help you to de-stress, but time limits are no fun for reading. If you’ve got the time, take an hour and just get lost in a book. The more vivid and imaginative, the better to take you away from your worries.