Did you know you can go from stressed to calm in under a minute? Relaxation exercises that help you take a moment to feel present don't have to take up long periods of your day, and you can do them just about anywhere (even at work). Don't let your hectic schedule deter you from reaping the much-needed benefits of relaxation.
Stress can have many negative effects on your health, impacting not only your body but your mood and behavior as well. Specific health issues that can arise from prolonged stress include increased risk of heart disease, chronic headaches, digestive upset, sleep disturbances, depression and anxiety, and even weight gain. Your mental health is so important to your overall well-being. We're here to help you regain your peace of mind - and protect your whole health.
If your busy day doesn't leave you much time to spare, grab some inspiration from this list of 60-second relaxation tips. These quick and effortless exercises will help you quiet your mind, reset and refocus. Try incorporating these exercises into your daily routine, and soon you'll have a moment to be in the moment every day.
- Deep Breathing. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Repeat. Deep breathing slows the heart rate and calms the body. Focus on your stomach rising and falling, and your breath flowing in and out. Try placing a hand on your stomach to feel the expansion and compression of your breath. This will help you concentrate on your body and not on everything around you, while lowering your heart rate and reducing tension.
- Lengthen Your Breath. Place both feet on the ground, sit up straight and inhale deeply through your nose. Exhale slowly through your nose, for two to three seconds longer than the amount of time it took to breathe in. Do this for 60 seconds to lower your heart rate and calm your mind.
- The 4-7-8 Technique. Begin by breathing in through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven, and then exhale through your mouth for eight. Repeat this technique, uninterrupted, for a minute.
- Mindfulness. We have so many thoughts racing through our minds each day, but mindfulness - the practice of being more aware in the present moment - can help reduce mental clutter. Try and complete a task mindfully, such as 60 seconds of focus while washing your hands. Instead of rushing through the task, slow down and be present before moving on to your next task. Research has shown that mindfulness increases awareness and can even help reduce stress, depression, anxiety and chronic pain.
- Counting. Close your eyes and count slowly (either in your head or out loud). Doing this for 60 seconds with your eyes closed can help you concentrate on your breathing, and ultimately lower your heart rate while calming your mind and body.
- Be grateful. Pause for a moment and count your blessings. It's easy to forget how we're blessed in the middle of a stressful day, but no matter how bad things are, there is always something to be grateful for.
- Take a brain break. When working hard it's important to stop for a moment and clear your mind. Grab a cup of tea, straighten up your desk or take a walk around your office building to enjoy the sunshine - anything to break up your day. When we take brain breaks, we refresh our thinking and can return to our tasks with focus and clarity.
- Do a quick full body stretch. What's the first thing you do before working out? You warm up. So why not stretch before you work out your mind? Take a moment to raise your arms above high your head and extend your legs. Ah, doesn't that feel better?
Now it's time to go try out these exercises to protect your heart and your health. Mix and match them and find what works best for you. Taking a few moments for yourself each day by using a combination of these activities will help keep your body, mind and spirit at ease.