09 Nov Stop stress: 6 easy self-care tips that take less than 10 minutes
Let me guess. When you are stressed out, you are less likely to take good care of yourself. You know that self-care is most essential when you are stressed, overwhelmed, tired, or under pressure. But it also seems that when you need self-care, you don’t have any time.
And that leaves you feeling stuck. It seems you can’t take good care of yourself when you’re under pressure. There is another way to think about self-care.
Change your thinking about self-care
Let’s best honest. Self-care is usually the first thing we stop doing when we get really busy. How often have you put something on your list like exercise, meditation, calling a friend, or just reading a good book but decided to scrap it when time got short.
Here are some of the unhelpful thoughts (myths!) we have about self-care:
- I can’t do self-care unless I have at least an hour and ideally half a day.
- Self-care is selfish. Demands from others will have to take priority.
- Self-care will have to wait until I have time.
- If I only have 15-minutes, I won’t feel any benefit of self-care.
- The demands on my schedule are so intense I simply can’t find even 10 minutes.
- Self-care will ruin my productivity.
The truth is that you can sink into self-care even if there isn’t time. It starts with this thought: There is enough time for me.
Self-care isn’t something you have to schedule
There are ways to feel calm and peace just by slowing down even for 5 or 10 minutes. You can pull over to the slow lane to regroup.
Self-care does not require you skip out of work for a day for the spa as lovely as that sounds. Self-care doesn’t even mean you need to take a full hour out of your day.
You can practice self-care in as little as 10 or 15 minutes. But it all starts with the thought: There is enough time for me.
And guess what, self-care won’t prevent you from getting everything done.
In fact, self-care actually helps you be more productive. It helps you focus and refuel. And it reduces your stress so you don’t hit a wall.
Want to get started right now? Here are six super easy practices that you can incorporate right starting now.
1. Take three deep breaths
This is the simplest of self-care techniques available to you at any time. And I guarantee you it works! Do this right now. Breath in filling your lungs with air. Hold it for a moment. And then exhale it all out. Rinse and repeat two times.
Shallow breathing triggers the sympathetic nervous system which is connecting to our fight-or-flight response. By taking deep, slow breaths, you are activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is in charge of rest-and-digest functions.
When can you practice deep breathing? Anytime! You can do it while you sit conference calls and in face to face meetings. You do practice when you are commuting, while you are waiting in line at the grocery store. You can even practice it while you are in the bathroom!
2. Become a yogi (for 10-15 minutes)
You don’t have to practice yoga for 90-minutes to get the benefits! I promise you because I am a yogi-on-the-go myself. I have found that even a 15-minute yoga practice completely changed my outlook for the day. When you stretch, you are releasing tension in your body.
In just a few minutes, you can do a few basic poses that help you relax and unwind. And you can do these poses in your office or at home. Once you spend this time stretching your body, you will feel the stress release in your body. You can find some easy practices online.
Entrepreneur Inc. put together a great set of office yoga exercises that you can do right at your desk.
If you are at home, you can pick a few of the poses in this easy-to-read guide with 13 poses for stress relief.
3. Unleash your mind through meditation or visualization
Giving your mind a rest is probably one of the most important things you can do to recharge. Our minds are running like hamsters on a wheel all day. That will wear you down more than think!
Give your mind a rest with a 3-minute meditation
You have probably heard about all of the enormous benefits of meditation. All of them are true. It reduces stress, it improves concentration, and you will feel happier. What you might not know if that you can meditate for as little as three minutes to get the benefits. I personally can attest to that!
If you have never meditated, go to this easy three minute meditation (which I easily found by googling “three minute meditation”) and see what you think. One thing I noticed, is that a daily practice of at least 5 minutes per day gave me benefits throughout my entire day.
Take a mental vacation
If you are just not a meditator, no worries! There are still ways to give your mind a rest. You can tap into your imagination.
How can you do it? Take a moment to shift your mind for just a moment from ruminating on the problems of the day. Instead, travel to a place where you know you can create positive and calm feelings. Practice deep breathing while you do it and maybe close your eyes.
Where could you go? Take yourself on vacation to a place you have been (or want to go to) and immerse yourself in that lovely place. Time travel back in time and visit a favorite memory. Experience it as if you were there yourself.
You will notice your stress and anxiety melting because you are allowing your mind for just a moment to take a break.
4. Just move: stand up and walk
When you move your body, you are giving yourself the gift of self-care.
Step away from your computer and your phone and take a walk. Stand up and take a loop around your office. Even better, take a brisk walk outside. There are tons of great benefits associated with walking. You will improve your mood, spark creativity, lose weight, tone your legs, and lower your risk of chronic disease.
It is great to take a walk when you are at a point in your day when you feel you are spinning your wheels.
Getting your body moving will help you relieve a little stress.
5. Drink lots of water
Did you know that drinking water helps you feel better?
So many of us forget to drink water. Maintaining a healthy fluid intake matters but with so many other drinks put in front of us – coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks, and alcohol – it is easy to forget the enormous benefits of a simple glass of water.
When you are dehydrated, your stress hormone levels increase. In other words, staying hydrated reduces stress. In addition to reducing your stress, drinking more water eliminates toxins from your body, kick starts your metabolism, lubricates your joint, boosts your immunity, and burns fat. It’s literally a miracle drink.
There is lot out there on internet about how much water one should drink. Many articles suggest drinking 8 glasses of water per day. Here is one article I found to be very useful.
Drinking eight glasses of water might sound like a lot especially if you barely drink water now. Start with just increasing your water intake. I can assure you that when you start to drink more water, you will feel better, less stressed, and more focused throughout your day.
6. Practice Gratitude
When the going gets tough, it’s hard to see what’s going well. Your mind might be racing thinking of your to-do list, dreading your emails, or ruminating about a problem at work for home.
This next exercise is all about flipping your thinking on its head.
Take a few minutes to reflect on what you are grateful for. It is an incredibly rewarding self-care practice. Pull out a piece of paper and write out 3-5 things that leave you feeling grateful. It might be how someone held the door open for you, or when a colleague decided to ask how you were feeling. Or it can be something bigger like knowing you have a loving friend or partner, or that you have roof over your head.
What you write doesn’t matter. What matters is the feeling you get from taking yourself from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance. When you shift your mind from what you don’t have to what you have, it can feel like a release. This can matter especially when things aren’t going well in your life.
I can assure you that creating time for this practice will have you walk away feeling better.
And it will feel like you are caring for yourself.
Get started now!
The practices I’ve listed above won’t take a lot of time. But the key is to give yourself permission to integrate those practices into your day.
Remember, self-care isn’t frivolous. It’s not luxury. It is essential. And it will help you through a busy or difficult time.
Pick a few of these practices and sprinkle a few into your day.