Feeling a little overwhelmed these days? Between the election, keeping kids on track with remote learning and managing your own Zoom calls, it’s understandable. Stress levels may be at an all-time high, but these are some easy ways to press pause on the news cycle, the working from home grind and your endless to-do list. And the best part? They take five minutes or less and they’re all research-backed.
- Focus on your breathing - Psychiatrist Dr. Marlynn Wei recommends rhythmic breathing as a good stress-reducer that’s easy for beginners. Here’s how to do it:
- Set a timer for three minutes
- Focus on your breath
- Take a deep breath in through your nose while you count to five
- Exhale for five counts
- Repeat for the rest of the time and notice how you start breathing deeper.
- Take a break from your phone and practice gratitude - All those notifications and scrolling can get overwhelming, so Kristine Carlson, co-author of the book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” suggests unplugging for a few minutes to take what she calls a “golden pause” where you focus on something you’re grateful for and practice breathing slowly. And research backs this up: Focusing on gratitude has been found to boost happiness.
- Listen to a relaxing song - Not only will listening to a song you love instantly put you in a better mood, studies have shown music can help people dealing with stress and anxiety.
- Have a calming cup of tea - Another tip from Dr. Wei is to enjoy a cup of hot tea, preferably without caffeine, and to put your phone away while you sip so you can focus on the flavor, temperature, feel of the cup and tune out other busy thoughts.
- Go outside for a few minutes - When you’re feeling overwhelmed, Dr. Monique Tello advises stepping outside for some fresh air and a quick walk. “If someone is feeling very stressed and they have the chance to change their environment, get fresh air, see nature — water, trees — they should,” she explains. “Exercise, take a brisk walk.”