There’s a lot to be anxious, angry, and stressed out about right now. Whether you’re adjusting to work-from-home life, worried about a loved one’s health, or experiencing mood swings and melt downs, it’s safe to say we haven’t dealt with this much global unrest, well, ever.
With many of us clocking work hours from the home office (a.k.a. the couch), some days are feeling longer than others. Without our usual routines which included lunch and coffee breaks and catching up with co-workers, you might find yourself turning to the news more frequently, setting off even more anxiety and frustration. Except now you can’t channel those feelings by venting at girls’ night or pumping out a killer workout.
So how can we relieve the pressure when it all feels like too much? When you find yourself consumed by headlines scrolling across your television or social media, it’s time to break the cycle. Interrupt the downward spiral and release some fear and anxiety with these exercises that take just five minutes or less.
1. Make your exhale longer than your inhale.
You’ve probably heard of breathing techniques where you set your breaths to a numbered count, but ensuring the length of your exhale is longer than your inhale sends a message to your brain that it’s time to relax. According to Psychology Today, longer exhales also combat the fight-or-flight response, lower chronic stress levels, and improve cognition.
2. Engage your senses.
No matter where you are, look around your environment and notice it with all five senses. What do you see? What can you smell? What can you hear? What are you touching? What are you tasting? Present-focused awareness exercises such as this one can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety and depression, reports findings in JAMA Internal Medicine.
3. Stabilize your blood sugar and drink some water.
These simple acts of self-care can get missed in times of stress, and can bring on extra crankiness. If you’ve been putting off snack time because you wanted to catch the latest news reel, stand up, put some peanut butter onto an apple and get a cup of water. Bonus points if you finish it without looking at your phone or the TV.
4. Focus on a singular activity.
Are you a multi-tasking guru? While you may think this is an answer for productivity, your already scattered mind disagrees. Instead, try scheduling singular work tasks in order of urgency, cook dinner with your phone out of sight, and turn off all devices while you read a book.
5. Progressive muscle relaxation.
While lying in a comfortable place, progressively tense and release each muscle group in your body until you’ve worked through each muscle. In a study conducted on Iranian nursing students, this technique helped to relieve anxiety in the moment, but practiced over time, can promote overall stress reduction.