I’m sure that almost everyone has experienced stress at least once in their lives. I’m the kind of person who overthinks every single thing and ends up being stressed constantly. And being stressed is not something enjoyable. Here are five tips on how to relieve stress in under five minutes.
1. Take ten deep breaths.
When a person is under stress, their breathing pattern changes. Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs. This style of breathing disrupts the balance of gases in the body.
Shallow over-breathing, or hyperventilation, can prolong feelings of anxiety by making the physical symptoms of stress worse. Controlling your breathing can help to improve some of these symptoms.
2. Do some quick exercises, such as push-ups or crunches.
Studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
3. Meditate or do some yoga.
Meditation involves taking responsibility for our own mental states, and training ourselves to alter how we respond to experiences (especially difficult ones) so that we produce outcomes (both internally, in terms of mental states that we experience, and externally, in terms of the situations that we help create) that are more conducive to well being and happiness.
In meditation we cultivate the faculty of mindfulness, or awareness. Mindfulness helps us to become more deeply aware of the patterns that our mind and emotions give rise to – including the patterns of responses that we experience as stress.
4. Listen to soothing music.
Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. This type of music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones.
As music can absorb our attention, it acts as a distraction at the same time it helps to explore emotions. This means it can be a great aid to meditation, helping to prevent the mind wandering.
5. Laugh freely.
Laughing is an excellent way to reduce stress in our lives, and can help you to cope with and survive a stressful lifestyle.
Laughter provides a full-scale workout for your muscles and unleashes a rush of stress-busting endorphins. Since our bodies cannot distinguish between real and fake laughter, anything that makes you giggle will have a positive impact. You do not need to be happy or have a sense of humour to benefit from a good laugh.