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Stress Relief in Minutes

We all lead hectic lives with so much on our daily to-do lists. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we all need to take a break at times to focus on managing our stress and taking care of our overall health.

Can you spare a minute? Carving out as little as one minute a day to practice mini-relaxation techniques can help you better cope with the many stressors you may face on a daily basis. Here are a few techniques you can try — based on the amount of time you can spare — to help you achieve that Zen in your life:

In one minute.  Practice deep breathing. Place your hand just beneath your belly button and focus on the rise and fall of your breath. Pause for a count of three, then exhale as slowly as you can. Continue this process of deep breathing for one minute.

As an alternative, sit in a comfortable position, take a few slow, deep breaths while quietly repeating to yourself “I am” as you breathe in, and “at peace,” as you breathe out. Repeat this slowly a few times and you should feel your body begin to relax. You can use whatever phrase relaxes you.

In five minutes. Take a moment to assess your body for signs of tension. Do you feel like you’re holding your shoulders tensely up near your ears? Do you feel tension or tightness in your neck or back? If so, it’s time to take five minutes to do something about it!

Begin by sitting in a comfortable chair with your hands resting in your lap. Close your eyes and turn your focus to quieting and settling your mind and body.

Once comfortable, shift your thoughts to your head and face. Take a few slow, deep breaths and as you exhale, relax your facial muscles allowing your jaw to fall open naturally. Next, move on to your shoulders. Take another deep breath and as you exhale, allow the shoulders to drop lower and lower. Now let your arms rest lightly against your body while your hands remain resting in your lap. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Take a few slow, deep breaths.

Now turn your attention to your lower body. Uncross your legs and ankles. Take a deep breath and let your thighs become heavy. Let your legs fall comfortably apart. Imagine your shins and calves becoming heavier. Relax your feet and toes.

Now spend the rest of your time focusing on your breath. Breathe in and out as deeply and as slowly as you can.

In ten minutes. Give imagery a try. Sit comfortably in a quiet space. With your eyes closed, breathe deeply for a few minutes. Once you feel your body becoming heavier and sinking deeper into the chair, picture yourself in a place that brings you happiness and conjures up good memories.

Now tune into your senses. What do you see, smell, and hear? Drink in the colors, images, sounds, and smells that surround you. Focus on the sensory pleasures of your happy place. Maybe it’s the soft feel of the cool grass tickling your toes, the salty smell and gentle slap of the ocean’s waves against the shoreline, or the sweet wholesome smell of baking bread slowly drifting from the kitchen.

Continue to breathe deeply and drift away in your imagination. As intrusive thoughts enter your mind, gently disengage from them and return to the place you’ve created.

A few minutes is all it takes. Just a few minutes a day is all you need to help you work towards keeping stress at bay. These techniques can be practiced almost anywhere. And it’s likely that the more you practice, the

more easily and quickly you can get to your place of total relaxation. So sit back, relax, breathe, and enjoy the moment.



Living Well: Stress