Stressed Out? This Simple Solution Works in Minutes

Stressed out? It happens. Maybe there’s trouble at work, family issues, or health problems. Or you’re worried about money, a relationship, or a whole bunch of things at once. How you handle it can make all the difference.

Some stress is actually helpful. It’s a normal part of life. But if you’re constantly feeling anxious, sad or worried, or you can’t sleep at night, it’s going to take a toll.

If you don’t manage stress in healthy ways, it can lead to things like:

  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Stomach problems
  • Memory loss


The good news…there’s a simple solution to reduce stress that works in minutes. It’s free. And it doesn’t require any special skills or training. The next time you’re feeling stressed out…

Breathe.

In a recent study, researchers found that breathing slowly and clearing your mind can reduce stress hormones and lower blood pressure in minutes.1

“Breathing is the single most important act that we do every day,” says Stanford University researcher Dr. Emma Seppälä, author of the book, The Happiness Track. “Daily breathing practices activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with resting and digesting, and a more peaceful mind and body.”

So how do you use breathing to tell your brain to chill out? Slow down.2

  • Normal breathing = 12 to 14 breaths per minute
  • Breathing to relax = 5 to 7 breaths per minute

7 simple steps to breathe easy

Looking for an easy way to beat stress, improve your mood, and feel better? Breathe. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Follow these 7 simple steps:

1. Create a breathing practice. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes each day to breathe. Schedule it just like you would an important meeting.

2. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Close your office or bedroom door. Go to your car. Sit on a bench in a quiet area of a park.

3. Set a timer. Start with 10 minutes. As you get comfortable with breathing, increase the time to 15 or 20 minutes.

4. Sit comfortably, and place one hand on your stomach.

5. Breathe in through your nose. Inhale deeply and slowly. Pay attention to your chest rising as your lungs fill with air. Focus on your breathing, and try not to think about anything else.

6. Exhale through your mouth. Tighten your stomach muscles, and try to push out as much air as possible.

7. Repeat the process until time’s up.

When you’re stressed out and you’ve got a million things to do at home or at work, it’s easy to think you don’t have time for mindful breathing. But before you rush off to the next thing on your to-do list, give it a try.

If you’re feeling stressed, but you’re not in a place where you can take a 10-minute breather, stop and take five deep breaths. It’s often enough to let your brain know, it’s OK to relax.

Mindfulness: 5 Simple Ways to Create Calm

Woman Practicing Yoga

Ever feel like you’re in a frenzied state of mind?

It happens. You’re stuck in rush hour traffic. You’re stressed out and running late. You’re worried about money.

Maybe there’s a personal or family matter taking a heavy toll on your happiness…maybe even your health. Or every day seems like there’s a sad or anxious cloud following you around.

Been there, done that? You’re not alone. But is there anything you can do about it? Yes.

Practice mindfulness.

Even though more than 30 million people in the United States practice mindfulness every day, it’s still a bit of a misunderstood activity.

  • Do you sit cross-legged on a pillow and hum quietly to yourself?
  • When you meditate, do you try and solve all your problems?
  • Is it just for people who have an interest in spirituality?
  • Does it require long periods of silence for hours a day?
  • If you do it once to try it out, will it work?

The answer to all of these questions: No.

“It’s about paying attention in a systematic way,” says mindfulness expert Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn.1

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment. But instead of trying to problem-solve, mindfulness is simply being aware of what’s happening in the present moment.

Need a mindfulness moment? Do this to find out….

  1. Stop and pay attention to your thoughts for just a minute.
  2. Is your mind racing from one thought to the next? That’s typical. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Mindfulness can help you learn to focus your thoughts and be more aware of what’s really happening.

It takes consistent effort. But anyone can learn to practice mindfulness. It doesn’t cost anything. And you can tap into the benefits of mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.

Discover the health benefits of mindfulness

Is mindfulness just for the woo-woo crowd, or can it really improve your mood and your health? Mindfulness can help lower stress and anxiety. Research also shows a regular mindfulness practice can:2

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve mood
  • Help you relax
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce pain
  • Promote creativity
  • Control stress hormones

Plus, in just 10 minutes a day, mindfulness can change the way you think and feel to be happier, healthier, and more productive.

5 simple ways to practice mindfulness:

1. Read. Take a couple minutes to read about something that interests you. A book, article, or blog post, for example

2. Be active. Go outside, weather permitting. Take a brisk walk. Bike around the block. Jump rope. Or stretch your muscles. About 20 to 30 minutes of exercise will make a difference. Exercise helps improve your mood. It burns up stress hormones, and stimulates the mind to help you relax and think better about things.

3. Meditate. Sit in a quiet and comfortable place. Some people use this time to pray. Others simply focus on breathing for a few minutes.

4. Breathe. It might sound too simple, but it really works. Try it. Take 10 deep breaths. Inhale, then exhale…slowly. Deep breathing has a calming effect that can reduce stressful feelings such as anger, anxiety, and fear. Making this a regular habit can also help lower blood pressure and increase your energy level.

5. Write. Keep a journal. It’s a great place to write down your thoughts, feelings and events of the day. But there’s an easy way to make this more meaningful. Keep a list of things you’re grateful for, then review the list periodically.

Want to know how to stress less, be happier, and feel better? Create a daily mindfulness practice.