As a working mother, I know that stress has become a “constant” in our lives. There are a number of reasons for stress; From managing daily routines, getting everyone out of the house to finishing assignments on time while chasing toddlers, the dinnertime -overwhelm and not to mention the daily news and the overwhelm of the unknown, the future.
The tension is high and can put a strain on our relationships at home and develop resentment towards each other.
While all of us dream to have that one weekend where we can sleep it out and all our stress will melt away, these dreams are seldom possible. Massages, pedicures are all good ideas too. If you have an hour, that is.
But what if you are running in and out of meetings, children’s activities, other appointments, work assignments? Sometimes you don’t have longer than 5-10 minutes for yourself. Just 5-10 minutes. That’s all.
Then what are you going to do to relax other than stuffing yourself with unhealthy food? Or putting more strain on your eyes and thumbs and going frantically through one app and another and another looking at what all other people did today that was more fun than what you ended up doing? Or possibly tweeting away your misery?
While indulging is sometimes really good and necessary and venting too; very easily all of these become habits that we cling to and then hate ourselves for doing them. Comparing our lives with others puts more stress on us as well.
Instead, here are 21 strategies that you can use that will melt your stress away in 5 minutes or less:
1. Turn your worries into gratitude
If you worry about putting food on the table, be thankful that you put food on the table today. If you worry about incomplete assignments, be thankful for the extra time you have on hands to complete them or be thankful for all the tasks you accomplished instead. If you worry about your child growing up too quickly be thankful for all the moments and quality time you are spending with them. With few thankfulness notes under the belt, you will start feeling a lot better about your situation. I have a gratitude jar where I put thankfulness notes when I feel thankful about something or when I worry about something. I plan to open them at the end of the year and be thankful for all the wonderful days the year brought for me.
If you are not into writing and putting anything in any jar here is a list of gratitude apps: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-awesome-ios-apps-starting-keeping-gratitude-journal/
2. Sweat it Out
If you have a favorite cardio routine, follow that for 5 minutes or Go to Pinterest and search for HIIT workouts and follow them. If you have 5 minutes on hand and ready to sweat it out a little, follow 1, 2 or three rounds of these exercises. The endorphins released will make you feel happy instantly. According to WebMD, the endorphins trigger a positive feeling in our body similar to morphine that makes us feel euphoric.
3. Take a walk
There is something about a walk that is very meditative. Since I was young but old enough to walk away on my own, I have always walked out for a few rounds to clear my head off. I think it is a mixture of endorphins as well as the meditative way of focusing on my speed or focusing on surroundings etc. that help eliminate the stress and help think better.
4. Write in a journal
Take a pen and paper or book and put all your thoughts in there. Once you have thoughts out of your mind and on paper, you will feel lighter up in your brain.
James Adams, an HP staff writer, writes on SkoolofLife.com about ten ways writing can help you de-stress. Read it here: http://theskooloflife.com/wordpress/10-ways-that-writing-can-help-you-de-stress/
5. Glass of red wine
Numerous studies are floating on the internet including from Dr. Oz that says 5 oz. of red wine helps you relax. Of course, your health conditions need to be favorable for this, and anything in excess could lead to more stress and sleep problems.
6.A cup of tea
I have found myself with a cup of tea more often lately. It puts me at ease, and I can take a paper and pen with a cup of tea and just feel open to writing up all my strategies and organize my thoughts very clearly.
While my favorite is a cup of Indian black tea (chai but not the typical chai latte in coffee shops) here is a list of teas that you can use for stress relief
7. Adult Coloring book
Colored pencils and a book to color are all you need. Lately, there has been a craze about these adult mandala coloring books. While I was extremely skeptical about these, these help me practice being mindful. I can color these while I let my children color or paint their projects and they put me at ease immediately.
8. Start reading a page of any book
Reading a book either fiction or nonfiction can put you in a different state of mind. It can prove to be a mini escape from your day to day life. Start reading a book to relax right away.
9. Close your eyes and breath for relaxation
Here are three different Pranayama techniques you can use for breathing to relax:
Pranayama or Breathing Exercises help in getting more oxygen to the optimal levels. This help reduces stress, increase concentration and in return problem solve.
10. Splash your face with water
If you are feeling stressed out and tired, a splash of cold water on your face can help your facial muscles relaxed.
This site offers more explanation on this: http://www.lesaviezvous.net/science/why-splashing-cold-water-on-your-face-relaxes-you.html
There are a number of meditation apps available. Pick any meditation app, close your eyes and turn the app on to take you on a relaxation journey.
Here is a list of some amazing free and paid meditation and mindfulness apps to choose from:
12. Eat stress busting foods
We all tend to eat when we are stressed. Next time keep stashes of stress reducing foods on hand in small packets and open one next time you feel anxious.
While chocolate or something sweet is where my mind goes first, I have to worry about not overdoing unhealthy foods.
So here are some stress- busting foods:
- Skim Milk
More listed at http://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/best-foods-to-fight-stress
13. Call a friend
The one thing that helps is just to vent sometimes. To make another person that you know will listen to you just hear you out. They may or may not provide you a solution that you like but just venting it out and having a second person nod to our stress levels and understand us makes life ten times better.
You can substitute calling by texting or chat with your friends.
14. Write down five positive things that happened today
Writing down positive things somewhere will take your mind away from present stress and shift towards something happier. It will immediately help you relax.
Stretch your body. Then close your eyes, press your eyebrows with fingers and release tension in your eyes. Rub fingers on your forehead in a circular motion. Stretch neck and shoulder to release all tension.
Here is a 6-minute stretch video that you can follow even at your work: https://www.fitnessblender.com/videos/relaxing-stretching-workout-for-stiff-muscles-and-stress-relief-easy-stretches-to-do-at-work
16. Drink a glass of water
Water releases endorphins in your body which create a calming effect. According to WebMD, stress can cause dehydration and dehydration can cause stress. So when in stress drinking a glass of water will never be a bad idea.
17. Listen to your favorite song
Listening and singing to your favorite tune will bring you to a good mood. It will take you away from stress to a relaxed state.
Here is more information on why you should listen to music when tensed: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/
18. Dance to your favorite song
Dancing to your favorite tune is also another relaxer. Dancing is a form of exercise that helps produce endorphins. Dancing is also known to be a form of emotional and creative release and very beneficial in times of stress.
19. Aroma Oils or Candles
Aromatherapy is a natural way to stimulate relaxation and sleep. Here is some information on different types of oils that you can use for relaxation:
20 Foot Relaxation
Dip your feet in hot water and then rub them with massage cream and then put them in socks. Moms are up all day and a little love to our feet can go a long way to feeling better again.
21. Face Your Issue
Figure out what is causing stress. Is it in your control? If it is in your control, then list one action that you can take right away to reduce your stress. Now that you have written this action take one step towards this action as immediately as possible. If it is not in your control then write down the fact that this stress is not in your control and all you can do is accept this situation.
Today’s challenge : Tell me what is causing you stress today? Which of these activities are you going to try out?