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5 Ways to De-stress in 5 Minutes

June 18, 2012

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We’ve all heard that chronic stress is detrimental to our health because it weakens the immune system, leaving the body susceptible to disease. Yet despite our best intentions, we often put off relaxation until “more important” obligations are fulfilled, which can take days, weeks, or even months.

It is equally challenging to accept the notion that we deserve time to ourselves, especially for parents, Health Coaches, and those who spend most of their energy supporting the needs of others. At Integrative Nutrition, we encourage a daily dose of primary food, since taking care of your own needs is the best way to ensure your capacity to be fully present for others.

Of course, there are times when it seems impossible to pause life’s pursuits. But that’s no excuse for giving stress the upper hand! These 5-minute relaxation techniques can fit into any schedule, no matter how full it already is.

Here are 5 ways to de-stress in just 5 minutes:

Stand up and stretch. Your body accumulates tension in areas like the neck and lower back, which can lead to aches and pains. If you don’t stretch at least once every 45 minutes, that pesky tension will take much longer to soften and dissolve. For those working at a desk, set a reminder on your computer to take a short break, whether it’s just a stretch or a brief walk outside. This simple act will increase circulation and promote relaxation.

Breathe. Breathing techniques are an excellent way to increase energy and alertness while simultaneously soothing the nervous system. These three breathing exercises, from Integrative Nutrition guest speaker Dr. Andew Weil, can easily be practiced at any time or place.

Make a cup of tea. It’s no wonder the Japanese have an entire ceremony devoted to the magic of tea! A warm and flavorful cup of health-promoting antioxidants is the perfect way to step back from a hectic day of ambitious projects. Simply boil some filtered water, select your favorite tea (we recommend herbal, white, or green), brew for a couple minutes, and add a touch of milk or honey (if you like). Close your eyes and enjoy this simple experience for a moment before continuing on with your day.

Visualize and smile. Ever notice how even thinking about your last vacation makes you feel instantly relaxed? That’s because visualizing and smiling actually causes a release of endorphins, which are natural stress relievers. Whenever you feel tense, just close your eyes, think of your favorite place, and smile.

Essential oils. Pleasant aromas have long been used in aromatherapy to improve mood and boost health. Essential oils come in small bottles which are easy to carry with you or leave in your workspace. Some of the best scents for stress-relief are basil, chamomile, and ylang-ylang. Take a long deep breath of the oil that most appeals to you, or dab a little on your temples for a longer-lasting sensation.

What’s your favorite way to relax when time is limited?