Stress Relief For Busy People
As wonderful as the benefits of meditation may be, building the habit into your daily routine can feel like a big commitment. Setting aside 15 minutes to just sit and ... do nothing ... can feel unproductive amidst our enormously busy days - but that being said, making time to relieve stress is vital, so lucky for us there are other ways to go about it that can be just as effective.
One Mindful Minute
Breathing deeply activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is a complicated way of saying it chills us right out. Evolution-wise, we only really had a chance to take deep breaths if we were in the luxurious position of not being hunted - and by doing so in the present our minds are eased of any imminent anxiety. An easy technique to use when things get busy is the act of taking one mindful minute; set a timer on your phone for 60 seconds, and count how many deep breaths you take in that time. The next time you're feeling overwhelmed, take that same number of deep breaths - giving yourself the headspace to move forward.
Be Actively Mindful
If you don't have time to sit and meditate, becoming more aware of the tasks at hand is the next best thing. Instead of sitting in front of the TV to eat dinner, try sitting at the table to make sure your full attention is on the act of eating, and rather than switching onto auto-pilot when you shower, take note of all the sensations and comfort it brings. Becoming mindful of our actions can be applied to absolutely anything - from cleaning the kitchen, to a walk to the shops, to a conversation with our next door neighbour. Becoming present means our minds don't wander off to stressful past or future scenarios, and allow us to tackle one thing at a time.
Take Regular Breaks
Pretty obvious, but so easy to forget. Our best work is achieved when the mind is rested - and if you skip downtime you're more likely to have scattered thoughts, lower productivity, and worse quality work. Setting reminders in your calendar to take a five minute walk away from what you're doing every hour, and making sure to utilise your lunch breaks by committing to them with a buddy are easy ways to make sure regular breaks don't slip your mind.
Separate Church and State
The transition from the professional to the personal can be tough, especially when you're working from home. Making sure to have a wind-down routine at the end of the day can help stop stress seeping into times where it's not wanted. Whether it's an after-work yoga class, an upbeat playlist, or settling down with a good book - make sure there's something you do that signals the end of work.
And on that note, it's helpful to have some cues to help you chill out during the day. Having a song, photograph, or object (like a favourite mug) to remind you of the good things in your life is a quick and easy way to pull yourself out of your own head when things get a little sticky. Reminders of things that make us happy are also reminders that our present problems are not the be-all and end-all.
You can do this as you brush your teeth, whilst you're cooking dinner, on the way to a meeting, or on your lunch break, but listing three things you're grateful for can turn the tables on your outlook. Realising that there's more good than bad in our lives is easy to forget during a hectic week, but making time to be thankful can take the edge off of any frustrating moment.
There are a host of things you can to do make your days less stressful without having to meditate - whether it's exercise, learning grounding techniques, or a healthy distraction like planning a holiday! Let us know how you wind down at firstname.lastname@example.org