Chances are, one of the reasons you’re stressed is that you feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day . Therefore, any stress-busting technique that involves committing hours of your time is more likely to add to your worries than lessen them ( exercise and healthy eating might be two notable exceptions).
So if you’re not in a position to radically rethink your schedule to give yourself a little more breathing room, how can you relieve your stress in the (very) little time you have available? A great recent Huffington Post piece by “lawyer turned burnout prevention expert” Paula Davis-Laack offers a great list of 10 possibilities , including:
1. Change Your Passwords
Jumping off a story covered previously on Inc. about a man who used creative passwords to help him heal after his divorce , Davis-Laack suggests stressed business people use the same technique for slightly different ends. Rather than something like “forgive@h3r,” choose a creative password that will cheer you up or remind you to dial back your stress levels. “Think about how many times you enter a password during your day. Make that password something that is going to help you create the environment you want,” writes Davis-Laack.
2. Hug it Out
This idea depends on having someone nearby who you can wrap your arms around, so depending on the nature of your relationships with your colleagues, this one might have to wait until the evening. But if you can find someone you feel comfortable getting close to, a simple hug can have profound stress-busting effects, according to the post.
“Hugging someone causes you to release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes pro-social behaviors that can contribute to relaxation, trust, and compassion. In his popular TED talk , Dr. Paul Zak prescribes at least eight hugs a day to maintain strong relationships,” explains Davis-Laack.
3. Write it Out
Not a hugger? Instead of off-loading your stress with an embrace, try writing instead. Just a five-minute “brain dump” can help. “Counterproductive thoughts and emotions build up during the day,” the post claims. “Your worst-case-scenario thinking won’t get better until you get it all out of your head. It’s amazing how different a problem looks when it’s on paper.”
4. 4-7-8 Breathing
Think you don’t have time for meditation? ( You’re probably wrong , by the way .) Then this is a quick and dirty alternative to help you get centered. “Sit in your chair or on the floor with your back straight. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat this for five minutes,” instructs Davis-Laack, though she warns that it may take you a little while to get the hang of the technique.
5. Savor Something
“Savoring involves mindfully engaging in thoughts or behaviors that heighten the effect of positive events and positive emotions,” according to Davis-Laack, and the idea can be applied to anticipating future events, getting the most out of the current moment, or even drawing more pleasure from happinesses past. So whether it’s taking a moment to notice the tastiness of your lunch or to recall that recent awesome vacation, simply savoring the good things in life is an instant—and easy— stress reducer .
What’s your favorite instant stress buster?
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