Stress and anxiety levels are running high for many of us, and it can be challenging to find time alone to take a deep breath. When life gets busy, we know we need to do some self-care to help ourselves, but we can stress ourselves out even more, trying to find an hour a day to meditate, take a long soak in the bath, or read a magazine from cover to cover.
However, with a bit of practice, you can introduce some one-minute exercises into your day. Perhaps while you're in a queue, waiting for the kids, or boiling the kettle, set your alarm for one minute and enjoy the moment with these simple techniques.
Observe the breath
Check-in with yourself and simply observe your breath. Notice how it flows in and out, feel the air in your nose, notice your chest expand, and your belly move gently in a rhythm. You may find your mind wanders off, and that's ok. It's what minds do. Just bring your focus back to the breath. There is no judgement here, just loving kindness to yourself, and you'll find the more you practice, the easier this becomes.
Tense and relax
Holding a deep breath, curl your toes for about 5 seconds, then let your breath go all at once. Don't ease off — let go completely! Next, clench your calves, thighs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, jaws and finally squeeze your eyelids. Feel the tension leave your body - bliss! Tense your muscles, one area at a time, and enjoy the relaxation upon release.
Stop and name three things that you are grateful for or appreciate in this moment. Gratitude allows you to detach from a stressful period and savour a positive memory or experience. This positive focus can create a positive sense of well-being and distract you from your worries and upsets.
Take a mini-break
Picture a place (real or imagined) where you can be totally relaxed. With your eyes closed, take a moment to visualise your ideal spot to relax. Make it any place attractive to you. Using all senses, feel yourself in comfortable clothes, hear pleasant sounds, see beautiful colours. Visit this spot whenever you need to relax.
Stretch it out
Take a minute to stretch a body part gently. If you are at the computer, your neck or shoulders will thank you. If you have been sitting for a while, stand up and stretch your hips, hamstrings or calves. When your head is running the show, it is easy to ignore what is happening in your body. Your muscles hold onto tension so give them a quick release.
Your brain is mostly made of water. It takes only 2% dehydration to begin to affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills. Keep a water bottle handy and pause to rehydrate your brain and body. Take a sip and pay attention to the experience of drinking your water. Hold the water in your mouth for a moment before you swallow. How does it taste? Visualise the water moving down your throat and into your stomach as you drink slowly and mindfully.
Calm the senses
Aromatherapy uses natural plant extracts to help boost psychological and physical well-being. The most popular essential oils for stress relief are lavender, rose to relieve anxiety, and marjoram to promote relaxation. Add a couple of drops of your preferred essential oil onto a tissue, cotton bud or a tester strip, then slowly and deeply breathe in the soothing scent. Repeat the breathing three to five times, and you'll be well on your way to restoring calm in the mind and body.
Let’s break up.