How do you manage stress when you don’t have a lot of time? I hear people all the time say, “I’m so stressed out but I don’t have the time to deal with it. I’m just too busy.” So, the stress rarely, if ever, gets addressed. This is unfortunate, as there are many things people can do to reduce their stress which take little or no extra time.
1. Breathe—This sounds obvious, but when you get stressed, your breathing becomes shallower and moves to the chest area. Proper breathing should be from the diaphragm (a sheet of muscle that separates the rib cage from the abdomen). When you breathe in, your stomach should expand like a balloon, and when you exhale, your stomach should go down (deflate). You can put your hand on your belly and watch to see if it rises and falls as you breathe in and out; your chest should move only minimally (for the perfect example of diaphragmatic breathing, watch a baby breathe while it sleeps). When stressed, close your eyes and take five deep breaths in and out from your diaphragm. You will notice your stress decrease immediately.
2. Take a Short Break—Taking a short break from work, the kids, your partner, etc., can significantly reduce your stress and refresh you. Even just a few minutes can help. It’s best to step away from wherever you are and go outside or into another room. While on break, stretch your body and move, and take those deep breaths. Grab a snack to eat or drink. When you return to your task, you will feel more relaxed and grounded. People sometimes resist taking a break for fear that they will lose valuable time. But, you actually save time by taking a break, because you will come back more alert, focused, and relaxed, which creates more efficiency.
3. Humor—As they say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughing naturally reduces stress. It’s hard to be stressed when you have a big smile on our face. Watch a funny clip on YouTube, read a funny cartoon, read a funny joke. You can find all of these options on the Internet or through your PDA. You can even paste up funny cartoons around your desk or work area to look at when you need a laugh.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep—Sleep is many times overlooked as a way to manage stress. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to managing stress, as you need to be well rested and refreshed to fight off the demands of the day. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more susceptible to stress, because your body doesn’t have the strength to resist it. If you can’t increase the length of your sleep, improve the quality by using some of these sleep hygiene techniques.
5. Eat—People sometimes skip meals or don’t eat properly when they’re stressed. However, eating (like sleeping) is vital to your healthy functioning. If you skip meals, don’t eat enough or don’t eat healthily, you will have less energy and feel more fatigued, which leaves you more vulnerable to stress. Eating takes time, but it will also provide you with that much needed break. If necessary, you can eat while you work.
6. Talk to a Co-Worker or Friend—Talking with someone takes your mind off your stress (and the things making you stressed) and puts your focus on something more enjoyable. Of course, choose someone you enjoy talking to rather than someone who’ll increase your stress. Again, this doesn’t have to be long, but can be just a quick chat.
(Originally appeared on Examiner.com)