We all have stress. It's a part of daily life. And sometimes it comes at the most inopportune time, like smack in the middle of an important meeting or before your big presentation.
Too much stress for too long can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental and physical health problems. But what if you learned that there are plenty of ways to reduce stress and feel calmer, even if only for a few minutes at a time? Learning some quick and easy calming practices can help you to better manage your stress.
There are all sorts of activities that can help you relax and get back to zero, things you can do at work or even in your car.
Here are a few examples.
- Brain dump. Take out a pen and a sheet of paper, and imagine all of the thoughts knocking around in your head are instead flowing out of your mind, through your pen, and onto paper. It can be therapeutic to have a place for all of those thoughts and know you don't have to "hold" them in your brain any longer.
- Ice pack on the chest. An emerging practice called vagus nerve icing involves putting an ice pack on the chest for up to 15 minutes to calm your nerves, especially when you're freaking out. You want to keep it around the sternum area and of course wrap it in a thin towel so that you don't irritate your skin.
- Listen to calming music. There are all sorts of genres that can help you relax, from classical to nature sounds. Put on some headphones and let the music wash over you for a few minutes.
- Take some deep breaths. This one is easy to do anywhere, anytime. Simply inhale deeply through your nose.
- Body scan meditation. Imagine a light that starts at your feet and moves up your body, slowly scanning for any areas of tension. Once you find an area of tension, breathe into it and imagine the light relaxing that muscle. You can “scan” the entirety of your body as many times as you need to!
- Stretch. Sometimes all you need is to get your blood moving to feel better. Do some simple upward reaches and forward folds at your desk, or pop out to the stairwell to use the steps for leverage moves like calf dips or a deeper hamstring stretch.
- Pick-me-up. Sometimes, an afternoon treat is all you need to perk up and power through the afternoon slump. Be sure to avoid junk food, though. A few ideas:
- Mini blueberry muffins made without sugar
- Strawberry cheesecake bites
- 3-ingredient Vanilla Almond Butter Mug Cake
- Hydrate. Drinking water can pull you out of a funk in just a few minutes, especially if you're the type to forget to keep sipping. If water bores you, try a couple drops of Liquid Monkfruit Drops to sweeten the deal.
- Change your environment. Sometimes a change of scenery can be just what you need to feel lighter and more refreshed.
- Affirmations. Words can make you feel things. Keeping a list of positive affirmations close by might sound corny, but nobody has to know but you! Repeating a few positive phrases to yourself can help put the brakes on the racing thoughts in your mind and refocus your attention on what's important.
- Notice your surroundings. Taking a few minutes to check in on your physical environment can shift your focus from a hundred-miles-per-hour mind to being fully present. Try to scan the room to notice the small details around you.