Right now I’m tired, stressed, and desperate for a break. But…I can’t rest. Deadlines wait, and a long to-do list that threatens to grow even longer if I don’t keep working.
So I reach for my nth cup of coffee, and try to manage my stress levels with short, simple treats. And sometimes, these treats are enough. It may not be a good night’s rest or a beach vacation, but it will help lower your stress levels and release some of your anxiety—so you can get through one task to another without slowly going nuts. Here are some ways to de-stress in one minute or less.
Reach for a poetry book
When I’m taking myself too seriously, or feel stuck in a daily ground, I reach for a poetry book: the silly verses of Shel Silverstein, the romantic poems of Pablo Neruda, the profound metaphysical musings of Rainier Maria Rilke. It takes less than a minute to read a poem, but that alone can make me laugh, change my mood, or simply remind me that there’s a much bigger world than the paperwork sitting in front of me.
Play your favorite feel-good song
Go ahead, don’t be shy: belt out Aretha Franklin, shake your booty with Beyonce, or get nostalgic with an 80’s compilation. Really, can you still feel sorry for yourself while singing ‘R-e-s-p-e-c-t!’ at the top of your lungs? The music will lift your mood, and the wild dancing can help wake you up when even your third cup of coffee isn’t working.
Orange and lemon scents can wake you up! That’s why I have a whole shelf full of aromatherapy scents (aside from those citrus scents, I love peppermint too). If you don’t have any right now, raid your fridge. Peel an orange and then crumple the rind in your fist to release the smell.
Pray or meditate
You notice how, in the last two minutes of a championship basketball game, when the score is tied and the stakes are high, a coach will call a time-out and regroup? Even that 30-second timeout is enough to give directions and calm everyone down. Well, when you’re at you’re most stressed, go have a timeout with your coach—whether you call it God, Jehovah, your Higher Self.
Do something silly
Watch a funny Youtube video. Color a page in your kid’s coloring book. Make the craziest facial expression and take a picture of yourself with your computer or phone camera. If your sense of humor is running low, sign up for websites that send ‘Joke for the Day.’
There’s something relaxing about throwing things away. If you’re too tired or stressed to think, grab a wastebasket and clean out your desk drawer or some papers on your desk. You’ll feel more organized and you have the profound satisfaction of ripping or crumpling something.
Read our tips on sitting meditations and find out how you can completely release stress and negative thoughts in less time than it took to read this article.
Photo from lobo.sbc.edu