Take a pause from your busy day with these simple calming techniques.
We’ve all experienced new stress over the last year. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a constant stream of COVID-19-related worries and fears we are still adapting to. Add these uncertainties with the stress of balancing work and home life amidst the latest lockdown and it is no wonder why stress has increased.
Even though many of us are working from home, it’s hard to carve out time for ourselves. So we’ve made it easy to take care of yourself, a few mins at a time, with these five one-minute exercises to manage your stress.
Take in a soothing smell
Smell is an often-overlooked sense when it comes to relaxation, but is a great way to relieve anxiety and stress. Take a one-minute pause and light a scented candle to relax. Other options include taking a deep breath outdoors in the fresh air or smell a fresh bunch of flowers. Specific scents can also bring up positive memories. If you find that a particular scent (candle, hand cream or essential oil) reminds you of a positive memory, consider keeping it in your space so you can use it when needed.
Take a one-minute vacation
With travel halted, it’s safe to say we could all use a mini-escape. In times of stress or anxiety pull up a photo that brings you joy (calming pictures like waterfalls, beaches or photos of loved ones or places that are important to you to make you feel happy). Take deep breaths and imagine you are in that place. Does a particular song remind you of a certain place? Put it on while you look at your photos!
Try the “relaxed breathing” technique
Relaxed breathing (also called abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing) is slower and deeper than normal. When you use this technique, it sends a signal to your body that it’s safe to relax.
Sitting or lying comfortably, take a slow deep breath through your nose to a count of four. Pause at the top of the breath and then breathe out slowly to another count of four. Focus on keeping your breath slow and smooth. Relaxed breathing is also known as belly breathing because you should be aiming to breathe into your belly as opposed to your chest. You can see if you’re belly breathing by placing one hand over your chest and one hand over your stomach; when you breathe in, only the hand on your stomach should move.
Repeat calming phrases
You can use specific words to relax certain parts of your body. This technique is called autogenics, and is known to relieve anxiety and stress. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes if possible. Repeat the following phrases, taking pauses in between to let your body take in the feelings of warmth and heaviness.
“My hands are heavy and warm.”
“My arms are heavy and warm.”
“My shoulders are heavy and warm.”
“My feet are heavy and warm.”
“My calves are heavy and warm.”
“My legs are heavy and warm.”
5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique
If your thoughts are racing and you find yourself feeling disconnected, use this simple exercise to bring yourself back to the present moment. Take a deep breath and name five things that you can see, then four things you can touch and feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and finally, one thing that you can taste. If you don’t have something you can taste in that moment, you could name one thing that you are grateful for instead.