5 Stress Reduction Tricks To Do In 5 Minutes or Less

These quick tips can help you reduce stress and find more ease in your busy day.

For many people, time is of the essence. There’s never enough time to “do it all.” The job, the family, the household, the hobbies, and taking care of our basic human needs. Too often, this leads people to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and burned out. This mindset is not beneficial for us or our loved ones, and it can prohibit us from reaching our goals and living the life we want.

April is stress awareness month, which means it’s time to take a closer look at what is causing stress in your life and how it’s impacting you. While some people might require drastic lifestyle changes in an effort to reduce stress, that can be too much to take on at once. Instead, look for little ways throughout everyday to help you reduce your stress levels and live a more happy and fulfilled life.

Here are five stress relieving tricks that can be done in five minutes or less:

1. Breathwork

Many people cite busy lives as the reason they cannot develop a full mediation routine. However, mediation can be done simply with a little bit of breathwork each and everyday to help you recenter mentally and emotionally. By focusing on your breath, you are engaging in an age-old mindfulness practice to help calm the brain and body.
There are a couple of easy breathwork options that you can do in five minutes or less:

  • Focus on taking a certain number of slow deep breaths, such as 12. Inhale as deeply as possible and fully empty your lungs when you exhale.

  • The “4-7-8” breathing technique can also be done at any time or anywhere to help you de-stress. While sitting with your back straight, breathe in for a count of four. Then, hold your breath for a count of seven. Finally, exhale for a count of eight. Repeat this for five minutes (or less).

Bonus tip: Here’s a how-to video for one of our favorite styles of breathwork, Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (alternate side of the nose breathwork).

2. Body Scan Meditation with Corpse Pose

If you’re a regular yogi, then you know corpse pose. If you aren’t, that’s okay–corpse pose is easily done with no-prior yoga experience! This practice promotes grounding which allows you to put your mind at ease.

To do this, lie flat on your back with your legs close by not touching and your arms at your side with palms facing up. Close your eyes and while focusing on your breath, you will start to conduct a body scan meditation. This simply means you bring your attention to each part of your body starting at the top of your head and working your way down to your toes. Here’s a guided Yoga Nidra practice for step-by-step support.

3. Journal

The process of writing can help you give your thoughts form so they can live outside of your head. Journaling takes little time and requires little material. It looks different for everyone but here are a few prompts you could use to find what works best in helping you reduce stress levels:

  • Make a list. This can be a list of things to do, a grocery list, a dream vacation list–doesn’t matter. The goal is to help you focus your thoughts.

  • Write about what’s causing you stress. Some studies show this can help you process feelings faster by getting it out of your head and on paper. This allows you potential clarity on your situation or the ability to relieve some pressure by expressing yourself.

  • Make a gratitude list. This takes hardly any time at all but allows your brain to become more mindful of things around you to be grateful for.

4. Color

You do not have to be an artist for this to work! For adults, coloring, freely or in a book, can be soothing and relaxing. Similar to writing, it allows your brain to focus on something tangible to express and decompress intrusive thoughts.

Plus, creative expression is known to help reduce stress as it can be used as a meditative exercise. When adults color, their brains are able to relax in a low-stakes environment. After all, who cares if you color outside the lines?

Most of the research regarding the benefits of coloring utilizes a particular type of design called a mandala. These are circular designs with concentric shapes that have universal spiritual significance. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that coloring mandalas reduced symptoms for adults suffering anxiety.

There are more options out there for stress-relief coloring books than ever before:

  • Mandala

  • Themed (animal, ocean, floral, etc.)

  • Special Occasion (Mother’s Day, Christmas, etc.)

Find one that works best for you!

5. Play a Mental Game

When we’re stressed, our brain naturally goes to a place where we replay those stressful events over and over again. It can become a negative loop that requires us to “change the channel” of our minds. To help shift your concentration elsewhere, take a few minutes to play a mental game.

Some examples:

  • Count backwards from 1,000 by 2 or 5 (or just count backwards if that’s easier!)

  • Recite song lyrics or poems you know by heart

  • Starting at the beginning of the alphabet, create a sentence where every word must begin with the same letter, such as “always aim arrows at aardvarks” or “big blue balloons blow backwards”

Try these different strategies to find what works best for you. Once you’ve identified the tricks you like best, start to integrate them into your daily routine to help reduce and manage your stress levels.

Follow 19 Minute Yoga on Instagram for more tips on managing and reducing stress.

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