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How to de-stress in five minutes
Is it really possible to relax in five minutes or less? You bet! Take five minutes out of every day to try one of these simple de-stress methods. You’ll be amazed how quickly they work.
LISTEN TO MUSIC
The soothing power of music is well-established. It has a unique link to our emotions, so can be extremely effective in managing stress. This is especially true of slow, soft music. This type of music slows the pulse and heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases the levels of stress hormones. Serotonin goes up and adrenalin goes down. This shift in hormone levels calms both our mind and body - music to our ears!
You don’t need to be a yoga expert to reap the benefits of a good stretch. Try the following movements and you’ll be instantly de-stressed. Stand up, and keeping your knees soft, fold at the waist and hang your head and arms loose towards the floor. Let gravity do the work of pulling you down. Then stand up straight, clasp your hands behind your back and stretch your shoulders and upper back. Gently stretch your neck with slow, easy neck circles or by hanging your right ear towards your right shoulder, then left ear to left shoulder. If you’re feeling especially tense, take a few moments to knead the muscles along the top of your shoulders. Feel better?
Slowing your breathing down is a great way to relax yourself. For just five minutes, sit in a quiet spot, forget about everything else and just pay attention to your breath. Slowly take air in through your nose, making sure it fills up your lungs completely. Then blow the air slowly out through your mouth. As you breathe in through your nose, slowly count to 5. As you exhale, do the same again. Continue for five minutes and notice the difference. Planning ahead? Carry lavender oil in your bag and rub into your temples and earlobes before your start the exercise.
CUP OF GREEN TEA
Despite containing caffeine, green tea is fantastic for relieving stress. It is rich in an amino acid called L-theanine which soothes the nervous system. It works by producing more ‘gentle’ brain waves associated with relaxation and stress reduction. The steam from the tea will also open your throat and nasal passages, helping you to breathe more deeply. And as we have seen, deep breathing is a wonderful relaxation technique!
Daydreaming is one of the best relaxation techniques of all. All you need to do is think of a place or experience that makes you feel happy and peaceful. A favourite moment from childhood or a special holiday usually works a treat. The key is to focus on making your visualization as vivid as possible. What can you smell and hear in the place you’re imagining? How do you feel? Become totally absorbed in the moment and you’ll return feeling calm and invigorated.
COUNTING TO TEN
A common practice with mothers the world over, counting to ten really does help you to calm down. Try slowly counting to 10 and then back again in the reverse order. Concentrating on a simple exercise distracts you from the stresses around you and helps put things in perspective.
GO FOR A WALK
Even just a quick walk around the block will help you to de-stress. Doing any form of exercise releases hormones called endorphins which make us feel good. A walk also gives you a change of scenery which can put you in a different frame of mind. If you can, get outside and do it! Being in the sun and fresh air has added relaxation benefits.
WORK THE BRAIN
Focusing on an activity for a few minutes can do wonders for our stress levels. Brain games that require lots of concentration can help take our mind off whatever’s worrying us. And now that most of us have smartphones constantly on hand, we have tons of these types of games to choose from: Sudoku, crosswords and Scrabble just to name a few.
Acupressure is fantastic for releasing tension. It is a kind of touch therapy that works by balancing the circulation of fluids and energies in the body. There is a pressure point between the thumb and index finger of our hands which is directly linked to tension, particularly headaches. Use the thumb and forefinger of one hand to massage this area on the other hand and see the results!
By Isabel Pretty