5 Proven Methods to Help You Relax in Less than 5 Minutes
Most of us deal with some kind of stress every day. We lead busy lives, most of us don’t sleep enough, and, sometimes, it’s just plain hard to be a human. Although stress isn’t always bad, too much too often can be debilitating. Many Americans (more than 18%, in fact) have an anxiety disorder.
Some of these disorders require medication and/or counseling. If you feel like you’re constantly anxious or constantly stressed to the point that you can’t function properly, it’s best you go see a doctor or a counselor.
However, if you’re just trying to navigate how to best get through a day or hour of overwhelming stress, you can utilize some easy calming techniques. These techniques don’t require anything but your body, and can be utilized to deal with anything from a screaming toddler to a crash in the stock market. Best of all, they don’t take long to work.
The most obvious should come first, right? Of course you have to breathe in order to live. However, when you feel anxious and stressed, your breathing and heart rates increase, making it hard to calm down.
To calm your breath and your heart rate, breathe deeply. Fill up your lungs until they feel like they’re going to burst. While you’re doing that, count how long it takes. Then breathe out as long as you can while you count. Your exhalation should be longer than your inhalation.
Breathe and count 10 times. By focusing on how long it takes you to breathe in and out, you’ll be able to remove yourself from the stressful situation you’re in and focus inward. Calming your heart rate and breath will make your brain calm, allowing you to better handle the stress at hand.
- Ground Yourself
Another way to feel calmer is to be more aware of your physical body. Anxiety and stress can make your mind go places far beyond the location of your actual body. When you can remind yourself of where you are and what you’re doing, you can generally alleviate some anxiety.
Look around the room and pick things out. Look at your computer and say to yourself “computer,” look at your bookshelf and say to yourself “bookshelf.” Ground yourself in the room you’re in and focus on being present in that space. If you’re sitting in a chair, actually press your feet into the ground.
Bring your brain back to your physical space. Concentrate on exactly where you are in that moment.
- Walk Outside
Sometimes, stress can cause you to feel hot. If you’re in a stuffy room, it can just make things worse. Leave your office or your workspace and go outside. Fresh air and sunlight does your body a huge amount of good.
Exercise is also helpful in relieving stress. Not only does exercise increase endorphins, it can help your mind by giving you the opportunity to physically remove yourself from the stressful situation.
Being outside can also offer a different perspective. Seeing whatever is causing you stress from outside the space it’s happening in can help you recognize your problem may not be as severe as you think it is. When you can take a birds-eye view of your stressor, you’ll feel calmer about the outcome.
- Think Thoroughly
Odd as it may sound, it may be helpful to think of the worst possible scenario. They key, though, is to assess the likelihood of that scenario actually happening. Most of the time, what’s real is much less terrifying than what’s happening in your head.
Some of the stress you may be feeling may be less from what’s happening and more from what you’re worried about happening. Instead of allowing your mind to go far into the future, try to keep it on what’s occurring in the present.
What are the things you can control? If you can do something to feel less stressed or anxious, do it. If it’s out of your hands, then do your best to let it go.
- Repeat a Mantra
Repetition is calming and therapeutic. On those days or hours you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress, close your eyes and repeat a few words over and over. The best words to use are those that help you feel calm. You can say the name of a person you love and who helps you, or you can repeat affirmative words to help you feel more positive.
For example, you can repeat: “I am strong. I am okay.” Focus your brain on only these words. You can say them aloud, or you can just say them in your head. Continue to repeat these words until you feel your heart rate decrease and your breathing return to normal.