Diet & Nutrition

5 ways to bust stress in 60 seconds

Strung out and anxious? Don't be. Bust that stress in one minute flat.

By Danielle Colley
Everybody lives with stress. We’re all busy and juggling multiple roles in our lives, and a manageable amount of stress can actually help us to perform at a higher level.
Too much stress, however, has a detrimental effect on the body and mind. You can become irritable, sleepless, anxious and even depressed. Over a prolonged period it may cause life-threatening heart problems, issues with immunity and effect your reproductive cycle. Your relationships may suffer and you may struggle to make sensible decisions.
By managing your stress level on a moment-to-moment basis, you can prevent the build-up that leads to chronic stress overload, and possible brain explosion (NB not a technical medical side effect of stress, merely a suggested messy side-effect.).
1. Mindful breathing
When we’re feeling stressed our autonomous nervous system kicks in. One of the first physical symptoms can be irregular or shallow breathing. Our heart rate elevates, our fight or flight response activates and our blood pressure can soar.
“There are two ways that controlled breathing helps with stress: The first is that by focussing on the breath we are using Mindfulness, and that focusing on the present, we are not thinking about the past or the future, and the source of the stress fades away. Focus on the breath coming in and the breath as it goes out, and become aware of it passing over your upper lip (breathing should be done with the mouth closed), and you will find that you become calmer,” Northern-beaches-based psychotherapist, Annie Gurton says.
“The second is that by having a longer out-breath than in-breath, we calm our autonomous nervous system, which controls our basic bodily functions. Do this and you will notice that you can immediately think more clearly.”
2. Tense and relax
Close your eyes for a moment and put both feet on the floor. Clench your fists as tight as you can, and hold for a few beats before releasing them back to relaxed. Lift your shoulders up as high and as tense as you can, and then relax them.
Repeat the process with all of your major muscle groups in your body for one minute and allow the stress to slip away a little further every time you relax.
3. Five-things focus
Wherever you are, gently take your focus to five things that you can hear. Maybe you hear a car in the distance, the air-conditioning, or people talking?
Once you have mentally listed five things, move on to things you can feel. And then five things you can smell.
This practice catapults you into the now and calms your mind to focus on this precise moment. You become present in the here and now. Unless you are actually in a true fight-or-flight situation, often stress is in our head so getting into your body can help dissipate the stress.
4. Get active
Research has shown that regular exercise relieves stress and is great for overall health, but what you might not know is that as little as 60 seconds of getting your blood pumping can help with stress-busting.
“Exercise has multiple and complexly-interlinked effects on mind and body, but mainly it is a release of energy that calms us down, and allows us to think more clearly and rationally,” Annie tells.
Keep a skipping rope nearby, or do push ups or jumping jacks for 60 seconds and help reset your brain. As long as the exercise is high intensity one minute bursts can alter the chemicals in your brain sufficiently to see you right.
5. Stretch it out
As much as high intensity helps reset the brain, as can taking it down a level. Deeps breaths, big stretches, getting out of your head and into the tight areas of your body can have the same effect.
“When we are stressed we have a lot of pent-up feelings and frustrations, and the process of stretching our muscles, breathing more deeply and focusing our minds on something else will allow those pent-up feelings to release,” says Annie.
“Some stress is good for us, it’s the amount, frequency and intensity that matter. And some people like more than others. Some people really thrive on stress while others find the smallest amount is too much. We are all different, and our responses are different,” says Annie.
“There is a big school of thought that says that too much stress causes cancer or other serious illnesses, and there is no doubt that excesses of stress can have a detrimental effect. But a life that is too cruisy gets boring and dull, and that can be equally unhealthy.”
Manage your daily stress levels carefully, and be aware of when you’re carrying too much stress for your body and mind. Take small steps regularly to prevent stress piling up and consuming you.

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