5-minute Stress Relievers
Here are some quick-and-easy stress relievers for short-term stress. In particular negative stress, but sometimes we even need a quick respite from short-term positive stress. Stress like getting through a backlog of work, getting jobs done before a deadline, dealing with emergencies. These things can turn negative if we allow the pressure to worry us, consume us, or get on top of us. Negative stress can be brought on by worrying about an upcoming exam or job interview, about how to discipline a child, or talk with a spouse about a difficult situation.
Tension builds up quickly in our muscles, resulting in a stiff neck, tight chest, sore back and legs. When we sit for long periods, such as at an office desk at work, lactic acid can build up in our muscles as well as toxins and wastes. So it is a good idea to implement movement into your day. Movement is a stress reliever in and of itself.
So start off with stretching at your desk, you can do these in a sitting position. As you start you will feel the tension, and your body will know what actions it needs to take to feel release, so just trust it. Do all movements slowly and remember to continue breathing normally as you do. You can follow these in order or just do the ones that feel right for you. If you have a back condition or injury please use your common sense and don’t push your body into further injury or pain. These are meant to just be gentle, slow, rhythmic movements to release muscle tension and put your mental focus on these tasks for a few minutes.
Breathing with your eyes closed
We often breathe shallowly from our chests when we’re stressed, so focus on breathing from your belly for a few minutes. Draw the breath in, and push your belly out. Exhale and suck your belly in. Close your eyes to not only rest them for a moment, but to lessen this sense so that you can put more attention on your breath and the actions of breathing. Focus your mind onto this action also, pushing thoughts away, just for a few minutes. Breathe slowly and deeply. On the inhale think about relaxing and on the exhale think about releasing your stress and tension. You can just mentally think the words ‘relax’ on the inhale, and ‘release’ on the exhale. Do this for a few minutes and then return to your work in a calmer state.
We hold a lot of tension in our heads, across our scalps and foreheads, so holding these simple acupressure points can relieve this tension and draw your focus to the actions so that you forget about your stresses for a few minutes.
- Start by placing all four fingers of one hand across the top of your head, along your crown line, which is the center of your head. Just gently hold this position for a few minutes, and gently wriggle your fingers backwards and forwards.
- Then place your other hand in the same place and draw both hands down your head, over your ears, down the sides of your face, and rest them on your chest. Repeat this process.
- Place your index fingers in the small indents at the back of your head, top of the neck and move in a circular motion for a few seconds.
- Place your fingers in the middle of your forehead and draw them outwards towards your temples, gently, down over your ears, down your cheeks, and rest them on your chest. Repeat.
- Gently place your pinky fingers on the inner part of your eyebrows on either side of the top of your nose. Gently move along your eyebrows towards your temples pressing very gently til you reach the sides of both eyes. Then again, with your pinky fingers gently press on the eye socket bone from the inner part of the eye by your nose out towards your temple. Repeat.
- Gently massage your jaw muscles in a circular motion. Open and close your mouth a few times, do not over extend.
Step away from your desk
In our busy lives we are often tempted to eat at our desks, in the car on the way to a meeting, or skip meals altogether, and fuel up on coffee instead. But your body needs, not only the nutrients from a decent meal, but also the break away from the mental stress of your workload, and the physical stress of being in one position for long periods. So next time you’re tempted to work through your lunch hour, remember that you are doing yourself and your employer a disservice; because if you let your body and mind get run down, you won’t be of use to anyone. So take time out, even if it means just going into the break room to eat; better yet take your lunch outside and spend time in the fresh air and natural sunlight. These things will revitalise you, and give you renewed energy to finish the rest of your working day. If you really can’t spend a ½ hour or 1 hour lunch break away from your desk, then just go for a walk for 5 minutes, a quick around the block or down the road and back walk to stretch your legs and breathe fresh air.
Take a walk in nature
Where possible, you should spend time in nature, literally smelling the roses, or brushing the leaves or bark of a tree with your hand, walking barefoot on grass, and listening to the birds sing. Getting back in touch with nature and its beauty is an instant stress reliever. So is there a park or small oasis near to your office where you can take a pack lunch during your working day? Try to go there every lunch hour or at the very least several times a week. Why not consider having a walk for 5 minutes in a park before you getting ready to go home? This can detach you from your working day, enabling you to unwind and distress before heading home to your loved ones, so that you don’t take the stress of your day home with you.
Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/ Image 1 & 2 Ambro, Image 3 Imagery Majestic, Image 4 Feelart