Okay, you’re stressed out. Maybe it’s your job, your demanding boss, your mother-in-law, money, health — the list goes on. Whatever the reason, de-stressing is crucial for your well being. Don’t have time for a 5-mile run or an hour at the gym? Try the following to de-stress in just minutes:
Hug someone. Hugs are excellent stress relievers. They release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes relaxation, trust, and compassion. The best part is, when you hug your family and friends, you’ll relieve their stress, too.
Pet an animal. Petting animals raises your levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that have calming properties. A detailed article in HelpGuide notes a wide range of health benefits pet owners enjoy, including lower blood pressure and a reduced depression. Stroking, holding and cuddling, a loving animal can quickly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed.
Take a Breather. If you don’t have time for hours of meditation, try the “4-7-8” breathing technique: Sit in your chair or on the floor with your back straight. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, then exhale for 8. Repeat this for five minutes. I tried it and it works.
Reminisce and Savor. These are basically mind games that you engage in to take away stressful thoughts. You can engage in anticipatory savoring by looking forward to a positive event. Or you can reminisce (bring to mind a past event to rekindle positive feelings).
Empty your brain. Negative thoughts and emotions can build up and by day’s end, your head can feel like it’s ready to explode. Release that anger you felt when that sales person or boss was rude to you. Or the anxiety you built up during the day over that important upcoming presentation. So let go. Let it out. You’ll feel better.
Develop a PERMA-H score. Created by positive psychologist, Martin Seligman, and widely published in his book, “Flourish,” PERMA stands for Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment/Achievement. Using PERMA brings into focus the things that make up your well-being (instead of just chasing happiness). It addresses the many factors that can help you de-stress, like embracing positive emotions, losing yourself in a project, nurturing positive relationships, finding meaning in your life, and improving yourself in some way. For example, when you are having a bad day, if you look at and calculate your PERMA-H score, you can see which area of your well being is lacking that day. Your PERMA-H score helps you achieve and track balanced happiness.
*Image of “businessman” via Shutterstock