Imagine it’s Monday morning. Over the weekend, you had a major argument with your partner (and you’re both still sulking), your alarm clock fails to go off, you try to get your usual breakfast only to find that the cereal box is empty and the milk’s gone sour, and then the car won’t start. By the time you get to work, you’re already feeling frazzled – and then your boss dumps an “urgent” project on your desk. You know you’ve got a backlog of emails to deal with from last week and you can feel your stress levels and blood pressure going through the roof.
Now, it’d be nice if you could de-stress by following some of the great advice you’ve no doubt already heard. You know, take a long bath, have an afternoon off, enjoy a long weekend’s vacation, go for an hour-long jog, etc. Unfortunately, you can only afford five minutes. Can you de-stress in five minutes? Yes, you can; just try one of these.
- Go For A Quick Walk
Even if you can only spare five minutes, go for a walk (it might just be to the water cooler and back). The aim here is to get yourself away from the immediate source of stress and to calm down. A few minutes to gather your thoughts is all you need to get some perspective.
- Read Some Fiction
If I’m seriously worked up, upset or stressed, one of the best things I can do is to grab a book. Fiction is ideal (especially anything funny or uplifting). Reading fiction takes you out of the here-and-now and into a different world. You can forget everything that’s troubling you, for just ten minutes, as you concentrate on the story.
- Meditate or Pray
Often, the best thing we can do to instantly de-stress is to simply stop. Many life coaches and stress advisors recommend meditation: there’s no mystery to it, just sit and try to clear your mind of thoughts (perhaps concentrating on a calming image or a word or phrase, if that helps you). I also like to pray – if this suits your religious/spiritual persuasions, it can be a very powerful way to get outside of your own head and call on a higher power for some much-needed help!
- Watch A Funny Video
I don’t know about you, but I just can’t stay stressed out when I’m laughing. (It’s like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time…) If you have a favorite YouTube clip, or if LolCats make you giggle, then give yourself five minutes to indulge. You’ll find that you return to your work – or whatever the source of the stress is – feeling much better equipped to handle it.
- Make A Herbal Tea
If you’re feeling uber-stressed, caffeine isn’t going to help. A warm, soothing mug of herbal tea might, though. The act of making yourself a drink can be calming: it gets you away from your desk, and it gives you a chance to concentrate on something physical. You’ll probably also feel a psychological boost from doing something positive and nurturing for yourself.
- Punch A Pillow
Depending on where you are when you’re feeling stressed, and on your personality, throwing a few punches at a pillow might help. Think of the stress leaving you through your fist with every punch. (If you’re in the office, please don’t be tempted to use a co-worker as a substitute pillow … even if said co-worker has caused your stress.)
- Take Slow, Deep Breaths
When we get stressed, we tend to breath more quickly, taking shallow breaths. Concentrate on your breathing (you might want to do this in conjunction with meditation or prayer). Imagine breathing from your stomach, not your chest. Take slow, deep, fulfilling breaths. Calming your body down physically in this way is likely to have a knock-on effect on your frazzled mental state.
Do you find yourself getting overly worked up on a regular basis? What are your instant fixes for when you’re feeling stressed?
|Written by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) or check out her website at Aliventures. Republished 5/22/2011.||Photo Credit: stuartpilbrow|