Your body and mind are brilliantly designed to experience and recover from stress. When you perceive a challenge or stressor, your entire system gears up for action—even if you’re not aware of it!
For most of us, the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting us with new and ongoing kinds of personal, professional, and social stresses. They can feel intense or overwhelming. As you navigate these waves of experiences and feelings, you can support your health by tapping into simple stress management tips that allow you to release physical and mental tension and worry. Many effective stress management techniques allow you to shift toward balance in a few minutes. Here are few quick tips you can repeat throughout the day as needed.
For some sweet simplicity in complex times, here are 3 short and easy ways soothe stress and raise your wellbeing, 5 minutes at a time.
1. Take a few deep breaths.
Yes, it may sound a bit cliché, taking a 5-minute break to simply breathe deeply is a simple and effective way to soothe stress. It can ground your nervous system, and support focus and mental clarity.
- Sit or lie down comfortably, and set an alarm for 5 minutes if you want to.
- Close your eyes, or softly focus on a spot in front of you.
- Experiment with counting the length of your inhale and exhale. Try to make them even by gently holding your breath for a moment at the top of your inhalation or bottom of exhalation.
- Explore your ability to change the rhythm of your breathing. As you inhale, you might notice your torso expanding bottom to top, front to back, and side to side. As you exhale, you might notice the air flowing smoothly out of your nostrils as your torso descends.
2. Take a stretch break.
Light to moderate stretching has been shown to soothe your body’s stress response. Regular stretching—both passive and active—can also help you improve your range of motion, reduce muscle tension, reduce your risk of a sports-related injury, and improve how you move through life and your workout routines.
Stretching has room for exploration and personalization. You might consider exploring ranges of motion that you don’t often come into. For example:
Simple Supine Twist
- Lie on the ground and place a pillow or something soft underneath your head.
- Spread your arms out to your sides making a “T” then lift your feet off the ground to bring your knees over your hips and shins parallel to the floor like you're sitting in a chair.
- Slowly guide your bent legs over to the right side, placing a pillow between your knees if they don’t touch comfortably. If you’d like, you can gently pick up your head and turn it to the left side.
- Take 5 or 10 slow deep breaths through your nose.
- When you’re ready, slowly guide your head, pelvis, and legs back to the center, and repeat on your left side.
3. Be Mindful.
Self-compassion is a mindfulness practice that can help ease stress and anxiety during this time. Especially if you tend to be hard on yourself for being stressed or not accomplishing everything that you think you “should” be doing right now. Research shows that practicing self-compassion helps reduce stress, foster a sense of empowerment, and boost your resilience, happiness, and productivity.
- The next time you notice yourself feeling stressed or anxious, catch it and take a moment to observe what you’re feeling.
- Offer yourself the same kindness you would a friend a need.
No matter your favorite stress management technique, you always support your health by drinking enough water each and every day. Stay safe, stay hydrated—and know we’re here to motivate you every step of the way.