Stress Management

Stressed, No Time? Reset Your Stress Levels

Make the most of your daily commute with these simple exercises that you can do while travelling
BY Jennifer Ellis TIMEApril 14, 2017 PRINT

Too often we can feel as though we’re rushing from pillar to post, struggling to meet various work commitments and deadlines. It’s important to take time out from the relentless go, go, go. Even with a very limited amount of time you can create space to bring yourself back into balance, managing your stress and gaining some much-needed perspective.

The six simple exercises shown here are perfect for a micro-session on your bus or train to work. If you feel self-conscious at first, try following the mental exercise tips to ease yourself into a calm and centred mindset.

Be Here Now

Too much of our time is spent reliving the past or worrying about the future. Focus on being in the present moment.

Action Not Reaction

Our stress increases if we feel a work situation is out of our control. Make a mental note of the aspects you think you can control and focus on them, letting go of those aspects you can’t.

Plan Your Breaks

When energy lags, our productivity drops and stress increases. Break each hour of your day down into 50 minutes’ work + 10 minute break / 45 minutes’ work + 15 minute break. Use the breaks to stretch, take a walk, do some breathing exercises.

Simplify and Eliminate

Unnecessary distractions and interruptions increase our stress. Think about simplifying your work area into a non-distraction workspace and limiting the amount of information on view.


Remember listening to music is a great way to relax. If your work environment doesn’t allow music, spend your commuting time listening to pieces you enjoy.

When you have less than a 5-minute journey:

  • Take five long, slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths, lengthening and deepening the exhale. Imagine you are exhaling stress and inhaling energy.
  • Spend a moment in contemplation and immerse yourself in a memory of a time when you felt most happy and relaxed.
  • Stand-up and stretch.

When you have a 10-minute commute:

  • Walk briskly or climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator.
  • Do a few stretches in your seat, to loosen up tight muscles.
  • List five things that are positive or amusing about a tense meeting or situation that you have just come out of.

When you’re doing a longer commute of 15–20+ minutes:

  • Practise 15 minutes’ seated meditation, focusing on the body breathing itself.
  • Play a piece of music you enjoy.
  • Write down your anxieties and contemplate them for a while, until you’re no longer feeling stressed about them and are bored of them.

When things all feel too much:

If you feel close to a panic – take four conscious breaths; not too deep. Draw the air in through your nose; feel your stomach muscles gently engage. Be comfortable – don’t strain. Exhale slowly through your nose (or mouth if necessary). Keep the mind concentrated on the breath.

Chair Yoga Poses

1) Grounding

(George Watts)
(George Watts)

Sit on front of seat. Feet firmly grounded. Hands on thighs. Practise slow breathing – inhale (note to yourself ‘breathing in’) and exhale (note to yourself ‘breathing out’). Practise with your eyes closed, focusing on slow breaths, clearing your thoughts to just focus on the movement of the breath in all the parts of the body involved.


2) Ankle stretch

(George Watts)
(George Watts)

Sit on front of seat with feet firmly grounded. Lift left leg straight in front of you, draw up with the kneecap and thigh muscle and slightly engage the abdominal muscles. Flex and point foot (toes stretch up). Stretch toes down. Repeat on other leg.


 3) Hip flexion

(George Watts)
(George Watts)

Sit on seat. Feet and legs shoulder width apart. Sit straight. Slowly bring one leg up and squeeze towards chest. Repeat on other side.


4) Hip opener

(George Watts)
(George Watts)

Sit on front of seat with feet firmly grounded. Place right foot on left thigh; to deepen stretch, very gently push down on right thigh. Repeat on other leg.


5) Neck incline

(George Watts)
(George Watts)

Sit on seat. Feet shoulder width apart. Sit straight. Feet grounded. Right ear to right shoulder. Left ear to left shoulder.


6) Neck flexion

Epoch Times Photo
(George Watts)

Sit forward on seat. Feet flat on floor. Clasp hands behind head but do not yank on the head. Press head into hands. Lift gaze. Look diagonally upwards. Pull elbows up and out as you stretch up, lifting your chest. Tuck chin into neck. Roll head down. Look at chest. Hold briefly. Roll back to start.

Chair Yoga poses and images devised by George Watts.

Jennifer Ellis is the founder of The Yoga Wellness Company a new London-based company that works to develop and share the mind, body and well-being benefits that flow from the practice of yoga.

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