Feeling stressed: 5 30-second stress busters
BY Noa Belling
3rd Nov 2023 Wellbeing
3 min read
From her new book Stress Less: Managing Anxiety in a Modern World, Noa Belling offers some quick stress-busting techniques for everyone to try
Stop and take stock of your mind
When feeling stressed or anxious, stop for a few seconds to ask yourself what the triggers are. What was the most recent thought or event that set your mind off in an anxious direction? Often stress spirals without clear awareness of what set it off.
To complete this quick process of landing yourself in a more grounded, clear headspace, ask yourself: “Is there something I can do right now, or later on, that could be helpful?” Go through this in your mind, or, if you have pen and paper handy, write it down. Then continue with your day, being more present to what is really going on around you and your ability to make helpful choices.
Cut through overwhelm by putting a hand on the centre of your chest
When feeling overwhelmed, there can be a lot of swirling emotions in your mind, pulling your attention in different directions or just feeling like too much. Placing a hand on the centre of your chest draws your attention down from your thoughts into your heart area.
Doing so is a reminder to centre in yourself and tune into what feels most important in this moment. Now choose what to do next—one step forward can be all it takes to get you going in a positive, heartfelt direction.
Remember to breathe!
Stress creates tension in your body and a tendency to hold your breath or breathe shallowly. Next time you feel stressed, notice where you hold tension in your body. Is it in your shoulders, your back or elsewhere?
"Next time you feel stressed, notice where you hold tension in your body"
Take a moment to release areas of tension by taking breaths into these areas and into your body as a whole. When you let go of the tension and tight breathing that can hold stress in place, it can also open your mind to think more clearly and resourcefully.
Sit or stand tall
When stressed and consumed in our thoughts, worries and to-do’s, our posture can also close in on itself, sometimes subtly as tension puts pressure on our bodies or sometimes more noticeably with stooped posture. Unfolding your posture to sit or stand taller can be an instant perspective shift. It can open your mind to a bigger picture and invite you to come from a stronger, perhaps wiser version of yourself.
"Unfolding your posture to sit or stand taller can be an instant perspective shift"
As simple as this postural adjustment might seem, it is actually an ancient practice, inviting us to align with the earth below and the sky above so that we can feel at once more grounded and more uplifted by extension. Try it to see how it works for you.
Refresh concentration and dissolve anxiety with a five senses check
Here is a great anxiety quick turn-around that also works well when you have been focusing on a screen for a while and your mind is foggy. Both anxiety and focusing on a screen take your attention out of the present moment, either into your thoughts or into a virtual reality. This can sap your energy and mental clarity over time.
To turn your attention away from your thoughts that might be feeding anxiety, while refreshing your concentration, pause for a few moments to tune into each of your five senses. Look around you and take in your environment through fresh eyes. Then listen to the sounds around you. What can you hear nearby and further away? And what is the furthest sound away that you can hear?
"To divert your attention from anxiety-feeding thoughts, tune into each of your five senses"
Next tune into your sense of smell and notice the scent of the air. Follow this by concentrating on your sense of taste. What can you taste at this moment? Finally tune into your sense of touch, taking a few moments to touch and feel one or two objects near you. You can also notice the touch of your clothes on your skin or the feeling of sitting in your seat or standing on the ground.
You can also take a few moments to stretch out your body and notice how this feels from the inside out. With refreshed focus, and perhaps a subtle energy boost too, return to your day.
Noa Belling is a bestselling author, mind-body psychotherapist, corporate consultant and author of new book Stress Less: Managing Anxiety in a Modern World, out on December 7 published by Rockpool Publishing
Banner photo: Tips to bust stress (credit: Daniel de la Hoz)
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