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  • Writer's pictureNicole King

8 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress in Less than 10 Minutes

Updated: Mar 23



Stress is a natural part of life that can provide the energy needed, particularly during short bursts to complete tasks and meeting deadlines. However, it's the prolonged periods of stress or unexpected circumstances that can throw us off course, and which can, over time, have a profound impact on our health and wellbeing.

 

In today’s ever-changing world, many people are feeling a sense of overwhelm and uncertainty – whether it be concerns with the increased costs of living, relationship challenges, health concerns, work issues, concerns for our children's wellbeing and the demands of parenting. Many are concerned about global conflicts, climate change or the political landscape here and/or overseas. How can we adapt and maintain our sense of safety and wellbeing amidst these turbulent times? Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor famously wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”. Developing some quick and easy go to stress reduction techniques for our toolkit is one thing that we can do to help ourselves through stressful and uncertain times.

 

Here are some powerful yet simple ways you can reduce your stress. The key is to find methods that work for you and use them regularly and in times of stress.

 

1.  Deep Breathing

Practice deep breathing exercises to calm the nervous system. Deep breathing, also known as abdominal breathing, is a type of breathing technique that involves the use of the diaphragm, so the abdomen (rather than your chest) expands as you inhale.

 

Deep breathing has a profound impact on the nervous system, particularly through its

stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system which is the body’s “rest and digest” response. This type of breathing can dampen the activity of the sympathetic nervous system (which is associated with the “fight or flight” response), counteract the stress response and reduce the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol.

 

How: Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen to feel the movement. Inhale slowly through your nose for 4 seconds, noting the abdomen expand as you inhale, hold the breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly and completely through your mouth for 6 seconds. Notice the gentle contraction of your abdomen as you release the breath.  Hold for a few seconds before repeating. You can repeat this 10-15 times, stopping if you feel lightheaded.

 

2.     Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is where you tense and then gradually release each muscle group, can also help relieve physical tension.

 

How: Loosen any tight clothing, sit or lie comfortably and close your eyes. Tense different muscles of your body as much as you can for at least a count of 10 (never so tight or long that it hurts). Then slowly release the tension and allow the muscle to relax. Let that feeling of relaxation flow through your body. Start at your feet and move up.

 

3.     Mindfulness

Although more recently embraced in Western psychology, Mindfulness has been part of Eastern philosophies for thousands of years. Mindfulness is about bringing non-judgemental awareness to the present moment. It is about bringing attention on a moment by moment basis, to the hear and now with openness. It's a form of training that increases awareness and ability to disengage from negative patterns of thinking that can make us more vulernable to stress.


Techniques like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or guided meditations can help in reducing stress levels. See below some simple free Mindfulness Meditations you can try:

 

-       5 minute stress buster

 

 

 

4.     EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, also referred to as “Tapping”)

EFT can be used as a self-help method that is thought to have an effect on the stress response. Peta Stapleton, an Australian Psychologist has carried out much research in this field and there are now hundreds of studies demonstrating its efficacy in treating many conditions including stress, worry, pain and much more.


It involves tapping on specific acupressure points on the body while focusing on an issue or problem, aiming to release emotional or physical distress. It’s sometimes referred to as psychological acupuncture.


To try tapping for stress reduction, see video ‘EFT Tapping for Stress Reduction’ by Peta Stapleton (5.30 mins). For more information visit our EFT page.


5.     Nature Breaks and Sunlight

Take short breaks to connect with nature. Whether it's a walk in the park, sitting by a body of water (ocean, lake), or spending time in your garden. Try to factor in spending some time outdoors each day if you can. Fresh air, sunlight and being in nature can have a calming effect on the mind and can assist your sense of wellbeing.

 

6.     Laughter and Humour

Watch a funny video on YouTube in your lunch break, Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, promoting a sense of well-being and reducing stress.


7.     Warm Baths or Showers

A warm bath or shower can help relax tense muscles and provide a soothing experience. Consider adding calming scents like lavender, frankincense or chamomile to enhance the relaxation effect.

 

8.  Gratitude Practice

Cultivate a gratitude mindset by regularly reflecting on aspects of your life that you are grateful for. It can be helpful to note down three things you are grateful for each day.

 

It’s important to note here that this is not about dismissing or trivialising genuine concerns or challenges in your life. It’s important to recognise and validate a range of emotions, allowing people to express and work through both positive and negative feelings. But gratitude also acknowledging some of the aspects of your life that is working. Focussing on what’s good in your life can shift your perspective and reduce stress.



Other activities not listed above that can reduce stress levels are things like limiting our exposure to screens and designating specific times to disconnect from devices, limiting news consumption and choosing specific times to catch up on news, 20-30 minutes of exercise a day, or even taking some Bach Flower Essences to bring about balance.


Remember, the key is to find activities that work for you personally, that bring you joy, that help you relax. Experiment with different strategies to discover what works best for you and try to build these into your daily or weekly routine.

 

Supports:

For immediate support, you can contact the following:

  • Beyondblue Ph: 1300 22 46 36 (24/7)

  • Lifeline Ph: 13 11 14 (available 24/7) 

 

Resources:

 


If you would like more support in managing your stress, you can book in for a counselling session here

 

 



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