The 5 minute stress SOS.
[A three minute read]
Stress is like a vortex, taking us to a place where our usual logic can’t be found.
Our energy is empty and it feels like our world is crashing down.
Stress is a condition of the mind, one that can only be overcome with the mind – our greatest asset in life.
When you think you have no time to stop, this is the time you must listen to your body and take action. Have you ever continued to sit at your desk when really stressed, knowing you aren’t being as productive as you could be but feeling too busy to take a break?
Spending five minutes refocusing is a solid investment – apart from feeling much better you will be far more productive and energetic once your mind is calm and clear!
Here are my methods for finding calm amongst chaos, all in less than five minutes.
Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed for five minutes – book a meeting room at work, find a park or hide in the bathroom.
Close your eyes, take a deep breathe in for four counts through your nose and think “I am calm”.
Exhale through your mouth for four counts as you think “I release stress”.
Keep focused on your breath. For these five minutes, nothing else matters. If your mind drifts, gently bring your focus back to the breath.
A walk around the block might not seem much help, but trust me, this is powerful, especially if you have a park or few trees nearby. Commit to putting aside any stress, judgement or fears for just five minutes.
Walk outside and just focus on your steps. Left, right, left, right.
Notice how your body feels. Take deep breaths and exhale into any areas that are feeling tension or soreness. Seek out nature around you – look at the sky, listen for birds and be in awe of the trees as you stroll past.
Make yourself a herbal tea and focus on the smells, tastes and feelings as you drink it. Let your mind wonder where the tea came from, who made it, where you bought it – pretty amazing how many people were involved to get this cup of calm in front of you right when you needed it.
Drink at least 500ml of water. As you sip it, think of times when you have felt calm, happy and at peace. Know that you can experience these feelings whenever you choose to indulge in your happy memories for five minutes.
Yep this is a five minute task and can even be done in a bathroom cubicle (desperate times, desperate measures!) It’s not about pushing ourselves, burning fat or building muscle – we just want to experience the positive short term effects of the exercise.
Even in five minutes, we can combat stress and improve our energy and clarity by increasing our heart rate, releasing serotonin and sending fresh oxygen to calm our brain. Each of these exercises can be held for a minute.
> Wall squat: pretend you are sitting in a chair by sliding your back down the wall until knees are at 90″.
> Running knees: run in place, with your knees as high as possible in front of you.
> Vertical push ups: Place your hands on the wall at chest height with elbows bent at 90″. Lead with your chest until you brush the wall. Repeat.
> Star jumps: Remember these gems from the good old days? Reminiscing about your high school gym days may or may not make you feel better!
> Tree pose: Stand on one leg, resting the sole of your other foot on the inside of your leg, slightly above or below the knee. Find a focus point and breathe to help you balance. Switch legs after 30 seconds.
This one is my personal favourite.
Grab a pen and blank piece of paper. Not your iPhone or a stylus, an actual pen and real paper.
Take one deep breathe in, then out.
Now spend five minutes writing everything you are grateful for today. Here’s a few you can use if you get stuck:
> Waking up in a warm bed.
> Access to fresh, nourishing food.
> Feeling safe in my home.
> Having the money to pay for my transport to work.
> My morning coffee.
> The ability to read.
> The chance to connect with colleagues, friends or family.
> Fresh air.
Things are rarely as bad in real life as you imagine in your mind.
This moment of stress is just one blip in your life. If the ‘blip’ has been present for a while, this could be a great opportunity to imagine what you could change to better balance the stress with calmness.
You don’t need to make a huge decision to change your life in the space of a week – this will likely cause you more stress! Instead, be kind to yourself and just look at a few small areas you could prioritise such as committing to 8+ hours of sleep each night for a week, or drinking 2+ litres of water each day.
These small changes will yield big results very quickly.
“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”