Stress can sometimes bubble out up of nowhere and feel as though we have no control over the effects it has on our minds and bodies. However, there are, in fact, a number of ways that we can reduce stress in just 60 seconds, allowing us to regain power over the stress and anxiety that threatens to overwhelm us. Read on to find out our top tips for reducing stress in any situation so that it doesn’t ruin your mood, or worse, your whole day!
One of the most well-known ways to reduce stress is by consciously breathing, taking time out to simply sit with your feelings taking deep breaths in and out until the stress subsides. When we are stressed our cortisol levels rise and we are often in a state of fight or flight, a mode of being that sees us act from our sympathetic nervous system. This causes our heart rate to speed up, our sweat glands to produce moisture and our breathing to quicken. The best way to lessen the impact of this stress is to do something called ‘box breathing’. Box breathing requires us to breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four and then hold again for four. The combination of slow breathing and counting helps you to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system, the space that allows for rest and digest instead of stress and anxiety.
If the holding part of this breathing exercise seems too difficult at the beginning (when you are particularly stressed), try breathing in for two then out for four, or in for four and out for eight. This extension of the exhalation again quickly helps to reduce tension and anxiety.
Get Into Your Body
Another way to reduce stress quickly is to try to get out of your head and into your body. This movement can take any form and is likely to be different for each and every one of us. Whether it’s putting on a snippet of your favourite song and dancing around like crazy or simply doing star-jumps on the spot, rigorous movement physically allows us to shake out stress and focus on something else instead of the situation that originally caused anxiety. Not only are the muscles in the body literally loosened, but oxygen rushes to the brain and vital organs which balances out the cortisol levels with happiness-inducing endorphins instead!
If you feel as though your body is seeking something more low-intensity, then stretching can help you to loosen up while also being present and connected to your inner self. Start with a few slow neck rolls and draw your shoulders up, back and down, or, if you have space move into child’s pose and breathe until the stress subsides.
A third way of reducing stress in 60 seconds is to repeat a mantra or affirmation to yourself that you know makes you feel good. This can be a simple phrase such as ‘I am enough’, ‘I am happy, healthy and loved’ or ‘I am doing the best I can’. This helps to bring whatever situation caused us stress in the first place into perspective and remind ourselves that we are doing all we can with the tools we have available to us. While these don’t have to be said out loud (as it may not be appropriate in a public place) it can be helpful to speak our mantras aloud as this enables us to build confidence in what we are saying. It is important to repeat your mantra or affirmation to yourself until you really start to feel and believe what you are saying so that they can have the intended positive effect.
Aromatherapy is another way to help soothe our souls in moments of stress. This can be enjoyed in the form of a diffuser or candle if we are at home or even just a dab of our favourite scent behind the ear if we are somewhere public. Essential oils are natural stress relievers and are known to offer both physical and psychological wellbeing. Popular essential oils for relaxation include lavender, marjoram and ylang-ylang and it can be beneficial to make applying the oil into a ritual perhaps stopping to inhale the scent or saying a few words of gratitude to Mother Nature for her earthly gifts before applying the oil.
Sometimes when we’re stressed, the best way to get rid of it is to express whatever it is that is making us angry or anxious. This expression can be displayed in whatever way comes naturally to you, be that screaming and shouting or putting pen or paint to paper in the form of art or journaling. Physically expressing our emotions can help to work through the issues that have arisen within ourselves and can allow us to put them to one side and move on. Even if you can’t find the words to describe how you’re feeling, simply picking up a pen and doodling may help to relax your mind and hey, you never know what interesting artwork may come out!
Take A Time Out
Lastly, a good way to reduce stress in just 60 seconds is to take a time out of your current situation. It can be easy to ruminate about a problem when you’re still sat in front of your computer or right next to someone that has made you feel stressed. So instead of sitting there seething, step out and make yourself a cup of tea or perhaps call a friend or family member. Being present in the moment while making and drinking tea can be a ritualistic, almost meditative practice, allowing us to slow down, be mindful and remember that in the here and now everything is OK.
Hopefully, these tips give you some ideas of things you can do when you feel tension and stress rising within your body. You may find that one calming ritual works for you every time or it might be that each situation requires a different stress-reduction tactic. Choose whatever feels natural and whatever you find helps to bring you back to the present moment and back to your truest, purest self.
Do you have any stress-reducing techniques that you swear by? Share them with the Me Time Away Community in the comments below!