On a recent call with the new “Serendipitous Hangouts” group, we came together for a 45 min. conversation and chatted about how we beat stress – in general, but definitely this time of year. (The recording is available to members.)
Here are some highlights:
1. Breathe and/or meditate/pray for 5 minutes. If you can, take a moment and leave your environment and take a moment to breathe. If you cannot leave, then put your headphones on, listen to some soft music, close your eyes and breathe. If you’re at work, go into the bathroom.
There was a video going around Facebook awhile back about “How to Meditate in a Moment.” Click HERE to check it out.
2. Light candles and listen to music for 5 minutes. It’s proven that even when you’re busy bustling about, simply putting on relaxing music can lighten the mood and relieve your stress.
I grew up with religious traditions that honored the practice of “Sabbath Keeping.” On Friday nights, after the house was cleaned and we were well-prepared for the day ahead, we would indulge in a meal at the table together, put on soft music, light some candles and my mother would read to my sister and I while we either drew or crafted. It was a great way to connect at the end of a busy week and I always had the best sleep of my week on Friday nights.
You might not be able to do ALL of those things, but simply take the time to light candles and listen to music. Enjoy some “Inner Sanctuary” time and connect with your Creator. Even just 5 minutes will help you feel better.
3. Take a 5-minutes to move your body. Be very present with what you are feeling in this moment. If you can, go for a walk or stay where you are, but move. How does your body feel? Where are the aches and pains? Move your fingers and toes. Get the blood flowing. I personally find that movement is almost crucial when I have big decisions to make. Something about moving the energy.
4. Take 5-minutes to write down what you are grateful for. Gratitude shifts our focus off ourselves and our situation and onto the gifts we’ve been given. Taking time to list the things you are grateful for can help shift your mood and focus help you be more productive the entire day.
5. Take 5-minutes to look into a time-management tool like the Pomodoro Technique. With so many distractions, especially this time of year, time management can become a real issue. I recently started using the Pomodoro Technique and I’m finding that when I do, I get much more done in less time.
The basic premise is to use a kitchen timer set for 25 minutes and focus on just one task. No distractions. Don’t let the phone interrupt or get sidetracked by email etc…
At the end of the 25 minutes, get up for 5 minutes and do something else – stretch, get a drink of water, put a load of laundry in – whatever.
Every 3-4, 25-minute blocks (Pomodoros), take a longer break like 20 minutes.
Don’t use this technique for personal, fun time stuff. The point is to ENJOY the free time you now have by being so diligent with your work time. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist. Among other things, there’s a desktop app you can download.
There’s also a great article by Sarah Bray called “My 90-minute Workday.” She does her increments in 15 minutes, but the premise is very similar. Here’s that link if you want to check it out.
Beating stress in general is a challenge, but mindfulness of these techniques – for even just 5 minutes – can really change your life.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your techniques for beating stress too.
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