Last week, we talk about 2 techniques to relieve stress using physical movements.

We understand that you probably can’t apply those when you are working without getting unnecessary attention. Today, we are going to finish this 2 part series so with tools that you can cope with your stress anywhere anytime. You can apply these techniques in a public transport, workplace, restroom and restaurant without anybody knowing it.

3. Breathe deeply

As we mention last week, our breath and emotion are intricately connection. To do a quick recap, fast and short breathing are associated with restlessness and strong emotions like shock and anger. On the other hand, deep and slow breathing are associated with relaxation. Here are 2 ways to make breathing into a stress relieving activity in 5 minutes.

Method 1

Focus on your breath, make it deep, gentle and smooth. When you feel that your mind is wandering away from the breath, gently bring it back.

Method 2

Inhale, count your inhalation. Exhale, count your exhalation. Inhale, count your inhalation. Exhale, this time round make the count of your exhalation double the count of inhalation. Repeat.

4. Engage in light mindfulness activity

You don’t have to meditate to be practicing mindfulness. In fact, mindfulness should be a practice that you can engage in anytime. Preferably, you should be applying mindfulness to your every waking moment. Practicing is as simple as being aware of what you is around you right at this moment. Every minute is an opportunity for you to practice awareness. Here is one example each for practicing mindfulness at home and at work.

Home

When doing mundane house chore, it is easy for your mind to be filled with thoughts. Instead of rushing to finish the chore, take 5 minutes to tap into your inner well of awareness by becoming present in whatever you are holding on or doing.

Say you are washing dishes, become aware of the weight, color and size of the dishes. Next, turn your awareness to the lather that is produced by the detergent. Notice the color, the volume and the feeling of the foam. Turn your awareness into the water that rinse the dishes clean. Notice the temperature and how it runs down the dishes.

By doing this, you will be gradually building up your mindfulness “muscles”, and it will be applied more smoothly into your life when a difficult moment arises.

Work

Say you have met with a difficult problem in your project. Our tendency is to work even harder at the problem and squeeze our brain dry. While this might work for some situations, we might get a better result if we have the courage to momentarily let go of the problem in our mind and return to it with a fresh mind.

The Pareto’s Principle states that 80% of our results are derived by 20% of our efforts. So take the courage to let go of the notion that being busy is being productive.

Sometimes, it is more practical, productive and better for your well-being to take 5 minutes off your work to apply the mindfulness practice described above (at home) to any of your surrounding at work.

5. Tune in to your current state and release tension

Researchers in Finland map bodily sensations associated with different emotions¹. Last week, we talk about how stress triggers a chain of “fight-or-flight” reactions in our body. This week, we will add muscle tensions to the reactions. With this understanding, we will be engaging our physical body as a tool to access our mind.

First, scan your body for muscle tensions. Due to our sedentary lifestyle, this will usually be, but not limited to, shoulders, neck and lower back.

Next, introduce some movements, rotation, extension or flexion to the tense region.

Focus on progressively releasing the tension on the muscles. Alternatively, you can deliberately tense up your muscles and releases them. Focus on the relaxation sensation and breathe deeply to further release your muscle tension.

Here are my 5 techniques to manage your stress in 5 minutes. Do you have any other techniques that you use to release your stress in 5 minutes? Let us know in the comment section below.

REFERENCE

¹27 November 2013. Riitta Hari. Bodily maps of emotions. PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.