How to Overcome Stress in 5 Minutes or Less

| WRITTEN BY: Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN

De-stressing doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming. Here are 6 simple ideas for how to overcome stress when you need a quick solution.

Since we all experience stress, learning how and where to find buffers can make a big difference each day. Ongoing chronic stress that isn’t managed can increase the risk for mental and physical health issues such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. 

Adopt a Breathing Technique

Sounds simple, right? Deep breathing is a powerful way to lower stress levels and tell the body to calm down and relax. When you start to feel yourself getting stressed out, just focus on your breath, for as long you need. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 1 minute, any amount of time is helpful.

Try the simple 4-7-8 breathing technique. Sit in a comfortable position and place one hand on your belly. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold that breath as you count up to 7, before slowly letting the breath out for a total of 8 seconds. Repeat this 3 to 10 times. Take notice of how you feel before and after the exercise.

Want to add more mindfulness to your everyday? Here are 12 Tips to Live a More Mindful Life.

Take a Walk

Simply getting up and moving can give the mind a break to hit the refresh button. As with any calming activity, walking for any length of time you have is helpful. If possible, walking outside or in a green space can be even more beneficial for stress management. Studies show that spending time outdoors relieves stress and can also improve memory. 

Do what you can where you are. If walking outside for 5 minutes isn’t possible, find something that is. Take a lap around the office, take the long way to refill your water bottle, or even walk in place if you have to. Giving your mind a break and moving your body is what is most important.

Want to add more movement to your day? Here are 18 Easy Ways to Burn More Calories.

Sip Some Tea

The act of making and sipping a cup of warm tea in and of itself is soothing. Taking the time to sit down and fully focus on enjoying a cup of tea can help alleviate stress and boost happiness. Pick your favorite mug and your favorite tea, and enjoy the moment. Taking time for yourself when the days get stressful can be enough to recharge before tackling difficult tasks. 

Interested in other benefits of tea? Here are 10 Everyday Ailments Soothed by Tea.

cup of tea, roes, candles, and magazine to destressChannel Your Senses

What does “channel your senses” mean? Instead of focusing on the thoughts or situations that are causing you stress, pick a sense (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, etc.) and truly focus all of your energy on what you are experiencing with it at that moment. What sounds you can hear? What smells are in the air? What do you see around you? This is simple but one of the valuable ways to de-stress.

When going for a walk or practicing a breathing exercise isn’t possible, shifting your thoughts to one of your senses can be an effective and quick way to manage stress. Depending on how much time you have, you can focus on just one sense, or go through each of them to help bring stress levels down.

Doing what makes you happy can help you overcome stress as well. Here are some Core Strategies to Boost Your Happiness.

Change Your Environment

Sometimes all you need to do is to step away from the screen, or from the situation at hand. Changing your environment can be an instantaneous way to bring down stress and help you refocus. Step outside of your office, and do some simple stretches. Walk away from your computer or your phone, close your eyes, and think of a fond memory or place you’ve visited. It doesn’t have to take a lot of energy or time to recharge your mind.

Another way you can change your environment is by readjusting your work-life balance or your physical workspace. Are you taking on too many tasks? Learn how to say “no” if you tend to take on more than you can handle, and don’t be afraid to be vocal when it gets to be too much. 

You can also add things to your workspace that support de-stressing. Use a diffuser to add soothing scents like lavender to the air while you work, or add a small plant to your office for a pop of color and freshness. Creating a work environment that is pleasant and calming can help stop stress before it even starts.

Did you know food can help boost your productivity and focus too? Find out which foods can help boost your mental performance.

Meditate and Calm the Mind

Meditation has been shown time and time again to be effective in alleviating stress. If breathing alone isn’t enough, taking 5 minutes to meditate can be your next step to calming the mind. The best part is that meditation can be done anywhere. You don’t need any special equipment, and you don’t need any special training to meditate. 

There are many different methods of meditation that can be practiced, including guided, mantra, and mindfulness meditation. Give different types a try to see which you like best, or which one works most effectively for de-stressing. The basic premise for each is focused attention, relaxed breathing, a comfortable position, and an open mind. The more you practice meditation, the easier it gets. Plus, it can help keep stress levels at a more manageable level each and every day.

Want even more ways to better handle stress? Here are 10 Proven Ways to try.

Which of these methods for how to overcome stress would you use first? 

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