Feeling Long On Stress, But Short On Time? – 5 Simple and Effective Stress-Busters:
You’re not alone if you’re feeling an unusual amount of stress lately. Whatever your personal situation, with the constant bombardment of negative news recently, many of us, including many of my life coaching clients, are having trouble quieting our minds and relaxing. The truth is, though, our bodies, minds, work, and lives ultimately suffer from keeping ourselves in a state of prolonged stress. The key is to catch yourself when feeling stressed, decide on doing something to alleviate the stress, and commit to an action that will improve the way you’re feeling. And, while there are many things we can do and people we can turn to help us manage and reduce stress, these are 5 very simple 15-minute stress-busters we can incorporate into our lives now that can be remarkably effective for reducing stress.
1. Meditation: Most of us have heard about the benefits of meditation, but don’t incorporate it into our lives for whatever reason. One of the greatest things about meditation, though, is that it’s easy to incorporate it into almost any part of your day in almost any location. Implementing a relatively brief, simple practice can produce tremendous results in reducing stress and producing a relaxed mind and body. If you’re not sure where to start, there’s a lot of information on the web, but it’s also as simple as stopping for 15 dedicated minutes. One simple way to begin is to put yourself in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Set an alarm for yourself so you’re not preoccupied with time and sit tall and comfortably in a chair with uncrossed legs and arms or sit on the floor in a comfortable position. Then close your eyes, and begin to breath deeply through your nose. Focus your mind exclusively on your breathing. And, breathe deeply and evenly. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the sense of your breath. It’s as simple as this.
2. Music: If you stop and consider how much music you listen to on a daily and weekly basis, what would your answer be? Because of our fast-paced, multi-tasking living and the diminished presence and accessibility of pure music (by “pure” I mean delivered exclusively through your ears and not synched to images) in our culture at the moment, it wouldn’t be unusual for you to answer that you’re not listening to much pure music…especially without interruption. Like meditation, though, the research around the positive effects of music on the human body and mind is tremendous, particularly around the reduction of stress and promotion of physical wellness. Here are some suggestions for incorporating music regularly into your life: Listen to your iPod or a CD during your commute rather than listening to or reading the news (if you “need to know the news,” spend the last 15 minutes of your commute listening to a favorite CD or collection of songs); Listen to music you love during a solitary lunch break; Start your morning at home off with music you love-you can use this time to share the experience of music with your kids or your partner; ask your friends what internet radio stations and online music subscription services exist that you might want to incorporate into your work and home life (you might be excited and inspired about all the wonderful new music you weren’t aware existed!) ; and/or, replace the habit of switching on the TV every night with listening to a favorite album or music on the radio.
3. Outdoor Breaks: Don’t let your days fly by without ever stepping outside because regular workdays like this begin to deplete us. Schedule a daily 15-minute outdoor walk break in the afternoon, and actually make it “a break” (no work!). Make it something you commit to and something you’re serious about by scheduling it into your calendar (this goes for any other stress-busting exercise you decide to incorporate into your afternoon). Not only is breathing fresh air rejuvenating, physically moving rather than sitting and changing our environment is energizing.
4. Laughter: If you’re having trouble alleviating stress and tension and you feel that some light-hearted laughter is really what you’re yearning for, take a laughter break. If you’re at home, the sky’s the limit for belly-splitting material on the internet that will get you rolling (Youtube show postings, The Onion, The Comedy Central, iTunes podcasts by comedians, etc.), and if you’re at work, start collecting work-appropriate humorous books, papers, or magazines that you keep handy. You’ll be able to grab a favorite piece whenever you’re in need of a laughter break.
5. Express and Connect: Whether it’s calling someone who is upbeat and positive in your life for a 15-minute talk or journaling your feelings for 15 minutes to connect with your feelings, expressing yourself can help liberate you from your stress. Before you pick up the phone, ask yourself if you can expect that the person you’re calling is likely to be an uplifting presence and resist the temptation to call someone to simply kvetch. More often than not, that adds to the stress you’re already feeling.
Maria McKenna is a Life Coach with the Institute for Coaching.