Everyone’s busy, and it may feel like there’s “no time” to apply the common advice given for reducing stress. You might think, “Sure, I’d love to sit back and journal or take a long walk in nature and reflect. Yet, I’m buried with To-Do lists, emails and customer demands!”
The following five stress-relieving tools meet all three requirements for busy business professionals. They are fast, effective and require very little time. Applying these unique strategies during challenging situations will not only make you feel better, but it will also improve your productivity and performance!
#1 – Control Your Breathing. Control Your Life!
Under stress, people hold their breath or breathe shallowly through their mouth. Mouth breathing triggers the fight-or-flight response, which leads to muscular tension and an elevated heartbeat. To counteract this, breathe in through your nose to the count of four. Then slowly exhale to the count of eight. Breathe down to the bottom of your lungs, so your belly expands rather than your chest. Doing so will stimulate your body’s Relaxation Response. You’re breathing anyway. Might as well put it to work for you!
#2 – Look Up for 30 Seconds and SLOW Down
This one requires that you sit still for half a minute, yet it can save you countless hours of aggravation from being stressed out! Take the next 30-seconds to just stare up at the ceiling. Doing so quiets your mind and allows your heart to slow down. Most anxiety comes from saying scary or upsetting things to yourself in your head. Looking up tends to silence your inner voice, which produces a very calming effect. The only time you should avoid using this tool is while driving.
#3 – Bounce…
It’s not what happens in life, but how you interpret the situation that ultimately determines how you feel in the moment. When already stressed, your view of other challenging conditions will appear worse than they typically are. Instead of trying to “be positive,” which can be difficult in those moments, reclaim your peace of mind by bouncing around or stretching as wide as you can. Tense body = tight mind. Loosening the body through movement will ease both physical and mental tension. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
#4 – Create Your “S&HIT Kit”
Laughter is another fast way to loosen up. Create your Sanity & Health Inventory Toolbox that includes a collection of hilarious 1-minute videos (there’s an endless supply online) you can view to break the tension. You can also sign up for the Joke of The Day online or keep your favorite song handy for instant inspiration! Sing along with your favorite music on the way to or from work to lift your spirits or use scented candles, air fresheners, or small vials of Aromatherapy oils to stimulate calmer feelings. Your specific collection of sights, sounds, and smells will quickly improve your mood, and if “it” suddenly hits the fan, you’ll have your S&HIT ready!
#5 – Pat The Blues Away
In a sitting position, start bouncing your knees slowly up and down by pushing upward with the balls of your feet. Take turns lifting one knee, then the other as though you are a drummer whose hitting his bass drum to the count of 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. Now keep this rhythm while gently patting your hands on your thighs, rotating from left to right as you pat one leg and then the other, just like you’re doing with your feet. It doesn’t matter if your hands and feet are moving together or not.
Do this for 30-seconds and then think about what’s been upsetting you as you pat for another 15-seconds. Even though you can conjure up the situation in your mind, you’ll emotionally disconnect from uncomfortable feelings. It’s like resetting your brain. Go ahead. Attempt to get upset while making this move. The harder you try, the more you WON’T be able to.
Stress is inevitable, but suffering is optional! You have tremendous power locked in your brain, and now you have several “on the go” tools for feeling calmer and at ease. A clear mind produces higher productivity, fewer mistakes, and a better attitude at the end of the day. We should all make time for that!
Tim Shurr is an award-winning speaker and author of Get Out of Your Way! Claim your complimentary copy of his latest E-book, The Cure For Self-Sabotage at CureForSelfSabotage.com