Stress has a troubling ability to slow down our productivity while seeming to speed up the day: whether we’re chasing a deadline or preparing for an upcoming meeting, in the fug of stress the idea of taking time to take counter-measures can itself feel stressful. Perhaps this is one reason why two-thirds of us admit we don’t do enough to manage our stress – with 20% saying they do nothing at all. Today could be the day to turn that around, though, when you consider that there are a variety of stress-busting activities that can be completed in 15 minutes or less – and most can be fun, or at least painless.
When our mind gets frazzled with stress, our body soon follows – heart racing, brow perspiring, shoulders hunching – pointing at the close symbiosis between our mental and physical well-being. Thankfully, this process can be reversed: rather than trying to talk your rational mind around, consider one of these several physical activities to reset your system.
Slow, deep breathing has been shown to reduce cortisol levels by itself – combine it with a simple yoga pose (child’s pose or downward dog) to release physical tension. Too new age for you? Basic exercise also works: a ten-minute walk can stimulate the production of endorphins – the happy hormone – and get you back in that productive space.
If all else fails, regress. Pick up a coloring book (they also make them for adults) to switch your brain into a different mode for a few moments. Or find an understanding (or equally stressed) colleague and – wait for it – ask for a hug. Research shows that hugging can reduce blood pressure and stress, and it only takes a minute (indeed, if you make it last longer things could get weird).
For further insights into the stress epidemic and efficient achievable ways to counter it, check out this great new infographic. Then get away from the computer, and stretch it all out!