“I’m stressed out and I don’t have time for anything, especially self-care.” How many times have you heard – or said – that? Deep down, you know that consistent self-care will help you manage your stress. But right at this moment, you just don’t feel you have the time for a nice massage or bubble bath. Fortunately, you can almost always take a minute. Here are 6 ways to reduce stress, and each takes just one minute or less.
Although these 6 self-care tips are lightning-fast, they are all proven powerhouse techniques for stress management.
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6 Ways to Reduce Stress in Less Than One Minute
1. Take Three Deep Breaths
Anytime you’re feeling tense, stressed out, or overwhelmed, take several deep breaths to change the situation for the better.
The key? Don’t just take a bunch of short, shallow breaths.
Instead, you should utilized the square or “box” breathing technique, commonly used by US Navy Seals to master tension and high-stress situations. It’s all about counting slowly to four. Start with inhaling to the count of four, then hold it for the count of four, and exhale to the count of four. Wait for another count of four, and then repeat.
Count slowly and really think about the process of breathing. Feel your chest and belly fill with air. Feel them deflate fully when you exhale.
According to WebMD.com, slow, focused breathing can:
- Help you cope with panic and stress by taking the focus away from the panic-producing situation.
- Overcome insomnia and sleep.
- Control hyperventilation through rhythmic breathing.
- Help you refocus when you are having a busy or stressful day.
- Ease panic and worry.
- Keep you calm during decision-making times.
- Lower blood pressure and decreases stress hormones.
2. Take One Minute of Silence
There is a lot to be said for a moment of silence.
Just one minute will do wonders for you.
Calm your racing thoughts and lower your heart rate as you relax into the moment. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position with your eyes closed, and give yourself fully to the present moment.
The Wisdom Post shares that taking a moment of silence can help you:
- Become Calmer
- Boost Your Intuition
- Understand Yourself Better
- Improve Awareness
- Tap Into Your Creativity
- Lower Your Stress and Pressure
- Encourage Mental Detoxification
- Have Better Patience
- Decrease Muscle Tension
- Broaden Your Perspective
- Waste Less Energy
- Discover Your Purpose
- Improve Focus and Concentration
- Grow Better Relationships
- Develop Willpower
- Become Better in Decision-making
- Slow the Rate at Which Your Mind Ages
- Cure Headaches and Migraines
- Bring Spirit, Mind, and Body in Harmony
- Live in the Moment
- Attain a Higher Level of Emotional Stability
3. Let Your Mind Wander
Having a rough day?
Take a one-minute vacation inside of your head. Start by picturing someplace you’d like to visit or something you want to experience in person someday. Then let your mind go wherever it chooses. It may remain on your chosen image, or wander off to something else entirely.
Allow your mind to go where it chooses without holding it back in any way.
If you are feeling especially distracted, the act of giving your brain permission to be distracted can actually help you bring your focus back. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it usually works. The key is to limit this wandering to one minute, and not getting lost in your imagination for too long.
The benefits of letting your mind wander, even for a brief time? According to The Greater Good Science Center. you will experience:
- improved creativity
- better job performance
- improved mood
4. Examine Your Environment
Another great technique for calming yourself but still engaging your mind is to take notice of an object near you. This could be an object in nature such as a tree, a visual image, or an intricate pattern.
Spend a full minute exploring this object, taking note of everything you can learn about it. What does it feel like? What colors are present? How does the light strike the surface? How was it created?
Close your eyes and see if you can recall this object down to the smallest detail. This exercise will help with cognition, attention, and focus.
5. Focus on Your Food
The next time you have something to eat, make it a slow, conscious event. Pause in your chewing to savor the textures and flavors of each and every bite you take. By doing this you aid in digestion and rediscover the joy of eating all at the same time!
Precision Nutrition recommends slow eating as a means of self-care because it leads to:
- better digestion
- better hydration
- easier weight loss or maintenance
- greater satisfaction with our meals
- enjoy improved health and well-being
6. Express Gratitude
A thankful heart helps to shift how you see the world and is one of the best ways to boost your mood. It can also be done very quickly and easily.
Think of something, or multiple things, that you’re grateful for. Feeling appreciate of the good events and aspects of your life will counter-balance your focus on whatever is stressing you.
Even better, expressing gratitude toward someone else will reinforce your feelings of positivity toward yourself and your situation.
Evidence has shown that a regular “attitude of gratitude” can:
- Make you happier
- Increase psychological well-being
- Enhance your positive emotions
- Increase your self-esteem
- Keep suicidal thoughts and attempts at bay
- Make people like you more
- Improve your romantic relationships
- Improve your friendships
- Increase social support
- Strengthen family relationships in times of stress
- Make you feel more optimistic
- Increase your spirituality
- Make you more giving toward others
- Reduce feelings of materialism
- Enhance optimism
- Make you a more effective manager
- Reduce impatience and improve decision-making
- Help find meaning in your work
- Contribute to reduced turnover
- Improve work-related mental health and reduce stress
- Reduce depressive symptoms
- Reduce your blood pressure
- Improve your sleep
- Increase your frequency of exercise
- Improve your overall physical health
- Help people recover from substance misuse
- Enhance recovery from coronary health events
- Facilitate the recovery of people with depression
- How Do You Recognize and Respond to Stress?
- 7 Fast Ways to Reduce Your Stress
- Manage Stress with a Healthy Lifestyle
- Stress-Reducing Activities that Keep Your Mind Active
- 21 Simple Steps to a Happier Life
Final Thoughts on 6 Ways to Reduce Stress in Less Than One Minute
It’s true that you don’t always have time for a full-blown self-care ritual, especially in times of high stress. But you can always take one short minute and practice one of these 6 techniques:
- Take Three Deep Breaths
- Take One Minute of Silence
- Let Your Mind Wander
- Examine Your Environment
- Focus on Your Food
- Express Gratitude
Have you tried any of these techniques? Which do you find are most effective for reducing stress?