The 5-minute Stress Solution

IMPORTANT: This blog is not a substitute for therapy, but provides evidenced-based education for the purposes of self-help, or to compliment the therapeutic process. ​ ​This blog is non-monetized.

By: John Foulkes, RP, The Relationship Specialist

These days, it’s a given that we are stressed out a lot of the time.  Problem is, where do we find the time to decompress; revitalize our energy and mood?  In my clinical practice I am often asked, “Okay, I’m feeling better – less anxious and depressed – what can I do on my own to help take the edge off and keep my spirits up?  This is where I put on my coaching hat and offer some simple and easy strategies to manage stress.  Although, I’ve implied by the title of this article that you only need to spend 5 minutes to become stress-free, the truth is that the more time you invest the better you’ll feel.  

Go ahead and give any one of these solutions a try:

Get moving

Of all the ways you can make yourself feel better nothing is easier than putting one foot in front of the other.  Simply going for a brisk walk or a workout will get your heart and muscles pumping and reduce your stress.  If you’re feeling anxious, try calming exercises such as gentle stretching or low-intensity stationary cycling.  If you’re feeling down or depressed try something more vigorous, such as boxing or strength training.  Remember, motion helps move emotions – positively!  

Meditation

Getting out of our head is sometimes needed more than we will realize.  Often, we get stuck in the never-ending loop of trying to figure things out and being constantly worried.  Try meditating to clear your mind.  An easy way to start is to focus on your breathing or look at picturesque scenery to draw your attention from your intrusive thoughts.  You don’t have to get it perfectly; just get started and allow your thoughts to slowly settle until you have gained some peace of mind.

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Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can help you stay emotionally grounded but in daily practice how is it easily done?  Here are three simple steps: firstly, check in with yourself and notice what you’re feeling.  You may become aware that you’re either feeling mad, sad, or guilty.  Secondly, breathe deeply 

into the feeling until it starts to soften or lift.  Thirdly, take an few moments to feel the experience of calm and let it take hold.  Tip: it can be helpful to use a journal to record your feelings.  Putting words to your experience can help guide your attention and breath and foster a state of mindfulness. 

Write it down

A significant source of stress comes from the enormous to-do list rattling around in our head. Trying to keep track of everything will make us more anxious and have us forget what it is we are trying to remember in the first place.  So, dump it out – make a list so you can stop trying to remember everything.  Then, prioritize what’s most important, not just what’s most urgent.  Once you have your shortened list (hopefully) then start chipping away at it one task at a time.  Every time you check something off the list it will feel like a reward and you will feel better.

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Connecting

Feeling overwhelmed…maybe it’s because you’re feeling disconnected.  Meeting up in-person or reaching out by phone to a family member or friend can perk you up.  We are social animals and making connections can keep us from feeling isolated and alone in our day-to-day lives.  For best results, make connections the old-fashioned way; face-to-face so you can experience that sense of belongingness and companionship.  Spoiler alert: texting and getting “likes” on social media are not substitutes for making real connections.  

Fun and play

All work and no play, is really no fun. In fact, having no fun can be a real mood killer and cause stress.  Everyone has their own idea of what is enjoyable.  It may be interesting to know that learning is the genetic reward for fun. In other words, learning something new, such as a new language or a musical instrument can bring back some wow-factor and make you feel better.  Also, having fun can be just a simple as having game-night with family members or friends.  

MY ‘DIG A LITTLE DEEPER’ TIP: 

Put these effective strategies to good use to reduce stress and lift your mood.  

​Remember, it only takes 5 minutes.

Feeling more than just stressed out and want to explore it further?  Feel free to contact me any time.

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John Foulkes

John is a Psychotherapist & Coach at Dig A Little Deeper, Psychotherapy & Counselling in Caledon, ON.

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