Are you checking your email today? Being interrupted with text messages while you in the middle of something? Scrolling through the endless stream that is the internet?
Then you definitely owe yourself a few minutes of peace and calmness and I’ll show you how to do just that in only 5 minutes.
Our days (and nights) are often packed full of errands, driving, debating with ourselves, and focusing on others. All of those mental and physical demands can start to catch up with you and fast! You may have noticed it’s harder for you to start focused while at work or in conversation. You might be drifting to a state of autopilot often or you may even, like myself, find it impossible to quiet your overactive mind.
This all stems from stress.
Stress is your body’s way of alerting you of something.
It’s responding to any struggle with overload, demands or threats to our wellness in our daily lives.
It doesn’t matter if this stress is real, imagined, tied to relationships, money, work, personal situations or even our pets. Stress isn’t all bad though, usually a stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. We’re addressing the “bad” stress in this article.
If your body is easily triggered by stress or in a constant heightened state of stress, as is the case for many of us, cue up the list of possible and very real health problems. Chronic stress can upset your digestive and reproductive systems, weaken your immune system, sip from your fountain of youth by speeding up your natural aging process and put you at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
When not used as a motivator, stress can actually rewire the brain, thus leaving you more susceptible to anxiety, self loathing, and other mental health problems. Your new friends could be brain fog, insomnia, body aches, and depression!
Those are not the kind of unseen buddies I want hanging around. According to the annual stress survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), average stress levels in the United States are constantly self evaluated as on the rise.
I know you’re thinking… then what can I do in just 5 minutes do? One word: Meditation.
If you have 5 minutes to do anything in each day, I urge you to make the time for this. Your body and mind will thank you in the long run.
Meditation is easy, free, available anywhere and has a variety of wonderful benefits for stress management. Done regularly, meditation can build resilience over time, while helping you de-stress in minutes. This simple but very effective practice can relax your mind and body all at once. With practice it can be an almost automatic response to meet the challenges we have each day head on. It can also help us let go of unwanted reactions or negative feelings presented within ourselves.
5 Minute Quick Meditation
Find the time. Really, skip that last checking of social media and give it to yourself. Set a timer for five minutes, and trust it to go off so you can relax and not worry about watching the clock. There are many apps and sound clips of mediation music if you find that helpful.
Relax. Easier said than done right? Try to just close your eyes, get in a comfortable position (whatever that is for you where you are) and relax. A few deep breaths from your diaphragm will release some tension in your body. If you like you can try to visualize the stress leaving your body. Imagine it draining from you through your toes, releasing it from your body with every breath, or simply melting away like candle wax drips.
Clear your mind, but not too much. Sometimes we can add unnecessary stress to meditation by focusing on ‘thinking of nothing’. What works best is to just focus on ‘being’. If and when random thoughts enter your mind, just let them be for a moment and then gently let them go. This will get easier to do the more you practice. When you’re ready, return your focus back to the present moment again. Constantly bring your mind back to the present moment as the meditation, this will promote ease keeping your mind still.
That’s it really. For 5 whole minutes make your mind and body focus on you and only you. Repeat this as often as needed. Sometimes I do this several times a day and other times only once a week. No matter how much I do it I always return to my day feeling more relaxed and refreshed. Focusing on my breathing, how my body feels, the sensations that arise all contribute to focusing on letting go so I can tackle the rest of my day in any way I need.
Don’t fear your ability to activate the relaxation response to enter an integrated state so your mind and body can function more optimally. A quick break like this can really make a difference in your reversing stress or anxiety levels.