There are so many tricks to de-stressing. You only have to search Google or Pinterest to find a thousand lists. Most of them are one or two words to get you on the right track. Breathe. Go for a walk. Be mindful. Find gratitude. These are all great, but what if you’ve never done anything like this before? What if you don’t know where to start?
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. I’ve made this simple guide of 10 tricks that I use to de-stress in 5 minutes or less. They’re quick, easy and I’ve given you the steps you actually need to get out there and do them.
Over the years, I’ve become a bit obsessed by self-care routines which I incorporate into every morning. Admittedly, I spend a lot more than 5 minutes on maintaining a calm mindset every day. Think of daily habits like preventative care.
But there are times that stressful moments pop up throughout the day despite preventative care and I want you to know that there are simple things you can do to help in these moments. You don’t have to spend 20 minutes meditating to find calm in your day.
Try these simple tricks which will get you out of that moment where enough is enough.
Learn how to shift your energy quick. This is all you need to start again and carry on with your busy day.
- Shake your body – this comes from an ancient Chinese Qigong move. Have you ever seen an animal shake off a sleepy body or shake off energy? It’s natural and it’s powerful. Give it a try. Stand up straight and shake your arms by your side. Begin to shake your wrists as well and then bounce on your heels. Do this for 20 seconds up to a couple minutes. Try exhaling loudly from your mouth with the sound of “haa” whilst you do this simple exercise. Pause afterwards. Notice how you feel. The tingling is energy you’ve just created. Enjoy it; it’s awesome.
2. Tune-in To Your Senses – Stop and take in your surroundings. Find one thing to see, smell, feel, and hear. Really look at the thing you see and take in it’s colour, size and shape. Notice something visual that you hadn’t noticed before. When you focus on smelling something, really take a moment to notice it properly. Maybe there’s nothing there and you simply notice whether the air is fresh or stale. Focus on something you feel. An item of clothing or your watch. Maybe something you pick up. Notice the texture and the feel against your skin. Now focus on what you can hear. Even in quiet places there is often a distant noise of some kind. Notice all the things you can hear. Close your eyes if this helps you to concentrate. Take a minute on each of these steps. By the time you’ve worked through your senses, you should be feeling a lot more in-tune with your body and no longer stuck in your head.
3. Sweat – Exercising is an amazing way to shift your energy from built-up tension to feeling great. Try some high-intensity exercises like burpees, jump squats, jumping jacks, high knees, mountain climbers. Try any combination of these for a few minutes and you’ll notice your heart rate go up and your stress melt away. You don’t need to do a full workout to feel the benefits of your energy shift.
4. Get Fresh Air – Whilst a long walk in nature is a great way to de-stress, we don’t always have the time. The great news is, you can get similar benefits from just a few minutes in the fresh air. Step outside of your home or your work and take in a few deep breaths while you enjoy the sun on your face or the wind in your hair. Even just the feeling of fresher air that you are breathing in. Notice these little things for a few minutes before going back inside.
5. Stretch – So often the tension in our bodies carries into our mindset. Stretch it out. Whether you’re sitting at a desk at work or waiting for a kettle to boil at home, take a few minutes to stretch. Lift your arms over your head and really stretch your fingers as high as they’ll go. Move them to the left for a few counts and then over to the right. Move your shoulders forwards in a circular motion for a few counts and then backwards. Move your head side-to-side, up and down and in circular motions slowly. Stretching out your arms, shoulders and neck can do wonders to how you feel. If you have more time and space, stretch out your legs too. Even shaking them off can help release built-up tension.
6. Read – Pick up a book or article and read for a few minutes. Pick something interesting that will capture your attention but nothing too heavy. You’ll be amazed how after a few minutes, you’ve completely let go of the thing you were stressed about. This is a distraction tactic and shouldn’t be a replacement for dealing with stressful situations completely. But it will help you get out of the moment and into a new space; ready to take on anything that’s been getting to you.
7. Breathe – take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Let it all go. Depending on how stressed you are, try a few like this first. Then begin breathing in through your nose and out through your nose. Pay attention to your breath. Feel the cool air in and the warm air out. Count if it helps to concentrate. In for the count of 4, out for the count of 6. Repeat for a few minutes. You won’t believe how much calmer you feel.
8. Movement with Music – Pick a calming song that you love; preferably without lyrics. Maybe a piece of classical or some form of meditation-style music. Listen to the music for a few moments and try to slow down your breathing. Hold your hands face up in front of your lower belly and move your arms up as you breath in. When they get to the top of your head, turn your palms downwards and breathe out as you move your hands downwards. Repeat this until your song is complete. This is a simple Qigong movement incorporated with music. Your mind and body will feel blissful after a few minutes.
9. Jump in a Cold Shower – OK, this isn’t for everyone and I’m still figuring this one out myself. But research shows that cold showers have a huge range of benefits including stimulating your immune system, speeding up metabolism, increasing alertness (duh!) and stimulating anti-depressant hormones (endorphins & serotonin). If you want to learn more, check out the Food Matters website for their “7 Health Benefits of Cold Showers & Cold Exposure” article or Conscious Living With Blue website for their “Amazing Benefits of Having a Cold Shower” article. The later includes two safe ways to start this habit.
10. Journal – Get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You don’t have to write for long before you begin to feel the ease of what you’ve been carrying. Keep a small notebook with you or use your phone. Personally, I love the feel of pen to paper when I’m releasing frustrations or too much to do but a phone is a great option when you’re out and about. Take a few minutes to get everything out and notice how you feel afterwards. Hopefully you’ll feel less heavy.
To truly divorce stress once-and-for-all, we need to change our minds over time. We need to work on recognising when stress shows up and how we respond to it. We need to take the time and energy to work on daily habits which prevent new stress and help handle current stress. There’s a process for this and it’s not a quick-fix.
The great news is, it’s worth every minute of your time. Learning how to live with less stress is absolutely life-changing.
But for those of your who aren’t ready to get into all of that quite yet, these tools will help bring you out of a stressful moment. They’ll disperse the chaos and frustration and bring you into a place of calm where you can handle your next moment from a place of sense and purpose. This is your quick-fix.
So, what’s to lose? Give it a go. The next time you find your head swimming in stressful thoughts, pull out this list and pick one of them to try.
Once you start doing these, you may even realise how empowering it is to have control over stress. You might even be ready for the real work of ridding your life of stress.
Have fun and stay stress-free!
-Get creative in finding space and time to do these. Breathe in your bathroom at work or at your desk. Stretch while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. Journal on your phone while you wait in a queue. Move with music in your car (whilst parked obviously). Find little moments throughout your day that can be filled with these simple techniques.
-Anchor these habits next to other habits you already have. This is the easiest way to get into a routine. For example, if you always boil the kettle as soon as you arrive at the office, try one of these new habits in that time that you wait. Linking it to an existing habit makes it easy.
-Set a reminder on your phone. Time it for your lunch break or when you’ve just gotten home after running errands. A little reminder to take a moment for one of these things.