We’d all love a relaxing, Hawaiian vacation when stress becomes difficult to bear. But is it possible to achieve relaxation without a trip to the Aloha State? Of course, it is!
Try these accessible tips from MindReady Studios to develop your sense of calm within 15 minutes.
It’s tough to slow down when we live in a culture that expects us to be moving at the speed of light at all times. But how can you achieve a slowed state in such a noisy, demanding world? We recommend taking a few moments to focus on your breath. Deep breathing has been shown to reduce anxiety and calm the nervous system - especially when your exhale is longer than your inhale.
Find a quiet moment during the day and inhale slowly through your nose for a count of three, hold the breath for a count of two and then push your breath out through the mouth for a count of five. Choose a count that suits you best!
2. Phone a Friend
Having a reliable network of people who support you is an essential component of effective stress management. Go beyond your usual text message and schedule a face-to-face meeting with someone you trust. Share your stressors and ask for their perspective.
It’s easy to reach for a sugary soda or a cup of coffee when you’re feeling tired and stressed. But did you know that staying hydrated (with water!) has been shown to reduce stress? Drinking water throughout the day keeps your organs functioning at full capacity and reduces toxins throughout the body. Keep a refillable water bottle at your desk and reach for it the next time you’re feeling tense or overwhelmed.
4. Walk Around the Block
Exercise releases endorphins in your body that make you feel good. Take a break during the day and walk around the block, or make a commitment to heading to the gym or a yoga class this week. Even a short exercise like touching your toes or practicing jumping jacks can have a soothing effect on the mind and body.
5. Practice Gratitude
Did you know that practicing gratitude every single day can have a profound impact on your happiness? Keep a journal of all the things you’re grateful for and use it as a guide when you’re feeling stressed. Remembering what you’re thankful for can have a profound effect on your attitude, lifting you up when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed.
6. Monitor Screen Time
Social media, viral videos and plain old work keep many of us glued to our screens for most of the day. This constant focus on media and our many devices can have a negative impact on sleep, our relationships with one another, and our ability to be productive and present in our everyday lives. Make a commitment to avoid devices an hour before bedtime, and try to keep meal times media-free.
7. Take a Nap
It’s not just for babies anymore! A short nap during the day can recharge your batteries especially if you didn’t get a decent night’s sleep. Try taking 20-30 minutes to rest quietly with your eyes closed. You’ll feel the energizing benefits of a nap even if you don’t actually fall asleep.
Close your eyes and sit quietly for a few moments. Visualize your stress. What does it look like? What color is it? How big is it? Where is it in your body? What shape does it have? Now that you can “see” your stress, imagine for a moment that you’re standing next to it.
Picture yourself getting bigger, growing larger than your stressor. Keep going! Make yourself 10 times as big as your stress. Now try to make yourself 50 times bigger. Are you big enough to contain it?
9. Try A Simple Yoga Pose
Yoga has the power to quiet the body as well as the mind. You can get started with the Child's Pose.
Kneel on the floor with your sit bones on your heels and your big toes touching. Separate your knees to match the width of your hips, and slowly fold your torso over your thighs, touching your forehead to the ground. Stretch your arms in front of you on the floor. Now take a deep breath, exhale and repeat. Feel better?
10. Be Your Own Best Friend
Why is it so easy to express compassion toward others but not to ourselves? Author and self-compassion expert Kristin Neff suggests thinking back to a time when your best friend was experiencing pain or struggle. How did you respond? Now think about a time when you felt pain or were struggling in some way. How did you respond? How were your two responses different?
Next time you’re feeling bad about yourself or can’t seem to see the forest for the trees, consider treating yourself the way you treat your best friend when they need you the most.