With so much going on in our daily lives, the number one reason I hear from people about why they are not exercising, eating right, or working on some aspect of wellness is because they are too busy. When we are busy, adding one more thing to our to-do list seems like a hassle. BUT….Self-care is important and cannot be put to the wayside, and good habits help give you more energy to tackle all the craziness and help you to bounce back faster when “life happens.” Here are some quick tips for stress management that you can try to incorporate into your day.
1) Take a break while at work to do a quick 5-10 minute meditation. All you need is a quiet space and a comfortable position. Try just focusing on a word or phrase that you can say over and over or listen to an audio. There are even free apps available for your phone to help you with meditation. Regular meditation can help you feel more relaxed, improve your mood and focus, and even increase your patience!
2) Perform some deep breathing. First place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Breathe in deeply, trying to make your exhalation last a few seconds longer than your inhalation. Focus on your breath and the feel of your hands rising and falling. Do this about five times or least a minute.
3) Go for a quick 20 minute walk during your lunch hour or take part in onsite fitness classes, recreational leagues or just hit the gym during lunch or after work. Exercise is great for stress-relief. Taking a quick walk to clear your head or working out some frustrations by going the gym can help.
4) Get a 30 minute massage or maybe a quick chair massage if available.
5) If you don’t like to exercise during the day, why not have lunch with friends. Social connections are important and whether you need to vent to a close friend or just have a good laugh, this can help you reduce your stress.
6) According to Duke’s Integrative Medicine website “In 60 seconds—or even less–you can practice yoga and gain significant and lasting benefits. By integrating quick, simple “micro-practices” into your busy day, you can create relaxing, transformative moments. And these practices are accessible to virtually anyone—regardless of age or fitness level.” Carol Krucoff’s book called Yoga Sparks: 108 Easy Practices for Stress Relief in a Minute or Less can detail how you can do this.
7) Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) has also been shown to help reduce stress. This is done by deliberately tensing your muscles in different areas on your body, one at a time, and then letting go of the tension and relaxing. This helps you focus on difference between what it feels like to have tension and what it feel like to relax. You can do this from any comfortable seated position or laying down, and it also incorporates breath work. A variety of scripts and videos are available online.
8) Stretching can help with all the muscle tension that results from stressful situations. Stored up tension can lead to muscle pain, and this can be alleviated with some simple stretching exercises that you can do in less than 5 minutes. A lot of us hold tension in our upper back and neck area so these are good areas to start with. Try performing your stretches with some deep breathing for an added benefit.
9) Visualization or guided imagery has been used to help with stress relief. Professional athletes sometimes use this to help them play better and people with health problems have even used it to help them overcome cancer! Try imagining something very relaxing. A picture of your favorite place in nature or maybe even your favorite vacation spot. Take 5 minutes to explore this place. Close your eyes and imagine the sounds you would hear, the aromas you would smell, and anything you would feel (like a gentle breeze, the sand between your toes, the sun on your face etc.)
10) Acupuncture can also help with stress relief. Although this isn’t something you’d do every day, it can be done over your lunch hour once or twice a month, and it can have great benefits. Not only can acupuncture help relieve muscle tension, but just lying on the table in a comfortable position for 30 minutes or more can give you a sense of peace and quiet where you can meditate, do some guided imagery, or even some deep breathing.