It’s safe to say that the majority of us are not taking enough time for ourselves — time to unwind, time to de-stress, time to just be.
It’s often difficult to find time during our day for activities that aren’t on our calendar or to-do list. But stress can build up when you don’t take time for yourself and it can impact our health and well-being.
Although you might not be able to find hour-long pockets of free time on most days, you can certainly find five minutes several times a day. Taking even five minutes to unwind can help reduce stress.
Here are some easy ideas to incorporate throughout your day.
• Try a deep breathing exercise: Inhale through your nose to a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, then exhale completely through your mouth to a count of eight. Repeat three times.
• Brew a cup of herbal tea. Try peppermint, chamomile, lemon balm or green tea.
• Physically remove yourself from the situation. Stepping away can help you refocus.
• Chew a piece of gum. Chewing gum can reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
• Listen to some soothing music.
• Tidy up your work space.
• Step outside and fill your lungs with fresh air.
• Pet a cat or dog.
• Meditate. There are many free apps that can guide you.
• Stretch to relieve tension in your body.
• Use an oil diffuser. Lavender essential oil is known for its calming effects.
• Get a quick burst of exercise. Do a set of push-ups or climb a few flights of stairs to increase your heart rate.
• Count backward from 100 to shift your focus from worrying.
• Close your eyes and simply sit in a quiet space.
• Massage your hands. Use your favorite lotion and focus on the palms, joints and webbing between each finger.
• Squeeze a stress ball.
• Gently roll a tennis ball under your feet, focusing on the arches.
• Wrap yourself in a cozy blanket. Weighted blankets also are becoming popular for reducing anxiety.
• Let the sun shine on your face, whether outside or through a window. Close your eyes and soak it in.
• Do a crossword puzzle or other mind game.
• Laugh. Call up a YouTube video to get the laughter going.
• Prioritize your to-do list by identifying the top three most important items and deleting anything that isn’t necessary.
• If you can’t step into nature, look at a picture of a nature scene.
• Correct your posture, which not only helps you feel more confident but also can lower your cortisol level.
• Smile. Even if you’re not feeling happy, smiling can lift your mood.