Reducing stress and anxiety should be a part of your daily routine, now more than ever. If you have just five minutes, here are some ways to take it down a notch. Some of these activities are great to do with the kids!
1. Take a break (and connect)
Brew a cup of green tea, which contains L-Theanine – a chemical that can help reduce the body’s stress response, soothing the soul. Even the ritual of brewing the tea can help calm you. Extend the feeling by making it a planned tea break with co-workers also working from home. Set up a Zoom call and enjoy a visit by the virtual water cooler. Make it a routine with a planned break at the usual time each day.
2. Chocolate indulgence
Yes, we are giving you license to eat chocolate but, everything in moderation as they say. A square of dark chocolate can boost your brain health. Choosing dark chocolate, which has less sugar than milk chocolate, can still tame your sweet tooth.
3. Add a little honey
Winnie the Pooh may been on to something. Add a drizzle of honey to tea, coffee or yogurt. Honey may help to relieve anxiety and protect the brain. It also helps with a quick energy boost.
Don’t forget to breathe. Try an easy relaxation technique called ‘equal breathing.’ Begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Your eyes can be open or closed. Inhale for 4 counts, and then exhale for 4 counts. All inhalations and exhalations should be made through your nose, which adds a slight, natural resistance to your breath. Once you get these basics down, try 6 to 8 counts per breath.
5. Put your head down
When seated, put your head between your knees or, if standing, hang your head and arms toward your toes. Having your head below your heart has restorative effects on the autonomic nervous system, lessening your reactivity to the fight-or-flight response. Yoga practitioners: think downward dog and standing forward bend.
6. Release the tension
Try some progressive relaxation, which involves tensing and releasing muscles, body part by body part. You may not have time to do your whole frame in five minutes, but just arms, shoulders, neck, and head will do. Focus on a body part, tense for a few seconds and then exhale and release. Repeat from head to toe.
7. Close your eyes
Shut out your stress simply by shutting your eyes. Think of this as a little sensory deprivation, shutting out the external things giving you grief. Take a minute to close your eyes and focus simply on the darkness of your eyelids. When you open them, the world may seem brighter in more ways than one.
8. Massage your hands
If you’ve been working from home, you’re likely still engaging your hands. And with all this hand washing and hand sanitizer, I’m sure your hands could use a little extra TLC these days. Add a dab of moisturizer to your palm, rub then together and begin to massage each joint in the webbing between each finger, massage each finger to the tip, clench and release your fists, and finally, flex your wrists.
9. Acupressure trick
If you work at a desk, it’s likely you carry some stress in your neck. A quick way to relieve neck tension is with this acupressure trick. With your fingers, find the two divots at the back of your neck where your neck muscles attach to the skull. Press firmly for 15 seconds and release.
10. Get your heart rate up
Getting your blood flowing is a great distraction. Make a point of taking a few physical breaks throughout the day. This one is great to do with the kids. Get the blood and endorphins flowing, by doing burpees, jumping jacks or jogging on the spot for 30 seconds, take a one-minute break and repeat two more times.