When you are stressed or overwhelmed and your shoulders are so tight they are hitting your earrings, it’s easy to feel like there’s simply not enough time and nothing you could possibly do to have an impact on your stress level. Five minutes seems so short – OR, if you are overloaded, it can seem like time that you just don’t have to “waste.”
A five minute adjustment can actually be a powerful way to do a little rebooting, refreshing, and recalibrating, the key is to spend it in a way that’s purposeful and effective.
What NOT to do with 5 minutes when you are stressed and overwhelmed.
Here’s the mistake most of us make when we get busy and overloaded. We sense the need for a break, but in our stressed-out state, we miss the mark on spending it in a way that will have positive benefits. Instead, when we’re stressed, we have a tendency to veer off into the no-man’s-land of autopilot, procrastination, and zoning out between what we are “supposed” to be doing and taking a break. The problem is, we don’t really stop working, and we don’t really rest. We multitask or do some stress eating or procrastinate by playing an endless game of solitaire. We float around the internet and click through our email and can’t remember what we did or why we went where we did. And eventually, we look at the clock and decide that it’s time to “get back to work.” That is not easy stress relief. At all. Here are five purposeful ways to spend 300 seconds that can help the rest of your day go a little smoother.
5 Ways to De-stress in 5 Minutes
1. Brew a cup of tea. Put the tea kettle on or (put your mug of water in the microwave) and spend five minutes feeding your senses and coming back into your own body. Breathe deeply while the water heats. Stand there and watch the kettle start to steam or the timer tick down on your microwave and practice slowing down, breathing, and just being for a few minutes. Notice what you are noticing and where the tension is in your body. Practice, for just a few minutes, tuning into your senses. Hold the mug of tea, feel the warmth, and smell it while it brews. Drink it slowly. If you have to take your tea back to work, tell yourself you are drinking a little bit of calm.
2. Sort a pile. Creating a small island of order in the midst of what feels like chaos can feel really good. Just don’t get in over your head. Sort out one pile on your desk or straighten one drawer. Clean out your wallet. Pick one project you can finish in five minutes and feel good about. But stop with one thing and then get back to work.
3. Stretch. We hold so much tension in our bodies, and when we are on autopilot, we can go for hours without really paying attention. Taking five minutes to change positions, stretch, move around and connect to your physical self can create more energy and a better ability to focus as the day goes on.
4. Listen to a song. I’m a firm believer that life is almost always better with the right soundtrack. Put on something that makes you happy or calm and use it as a break or to help lift the mood of your entire day. Soothing classical music has been shown to slow pulse and heart rate, lower blood pressure and even decrease stress hormones. Music can reduce anxiety and distress and has even been shown to positively impact self-esteem.
5. Take 25 deep breaths. Stress relief can be as simple as breathing – deliberately. When we’re stressed, we tend to take shorter, shallower breaths and that kind of breathing can actually make stress worse. Deep breathing engages our physical relaxation response. It has positive effects on everything from heart rate to digestion and even the immune system – and it feels good.
What’s your favorite way to create a little more calm in a crazy day?