It’s the beginning of a new year. For many folks, the new year is a time for setting new goals and adding extra items to their to-do lists. However, new beginnings can also feel overwhelming. As we return to our routines and the reality of a new year, the stress of daily life can slowly creep back in.
For moments when you notice stress resulting in built up tension, here are a few things you can do for some release and relief that take less than 5 minutes!
#1 Go for a Walk
Get outside. Walk around the block or take a few minutes on your lunch break to step away from your job. Notice your environment. Going for a walk – even a quick one- can boost your endorphins, improving your mood and releasing pent up energy.
#2 Full Body Tension and Release
This is an interesting, effective, quick exercise. Tense every muscle in your body for three to five seconds, then release. Repeat as many times as you need to. This can be done while sitting at your desk or it’s a great exercise after a long day at work when you get into your car or after you come home from a long day.
#3 Say It Out Loud
Sometimes the best tension release we can give ourselves is to acknowledge how we’re feeling. Simply stating “I feel a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders today” or “I’m stressed about my day” or “I’m feeling angry” can release tension in our physiology.
Watch a favorite clip of a stand-up show or search for a funny video on YouTube, then share with a friend! A genuine, deep belly laugh can rid the body tension and pent up energy while releasing feel-good hormones to your brain.
#5 Write it Out
Pull out your journal and write out where you’re noticing body tension and mental stress. Don’t worry about doing it right. Just get the words flowing. You’d be amazed how much you can learn about yourself after rereading your entry.
#6 Carry a Fidget Toy
Have you ever seen those little foam squishy balls or other fidget toys? These are great tools for reducing anxiety or for stress relief. Many stores sell them inexpensively.
#7 Drink Less Caffeine
This can be a hard one. Many of us rely on caffeine to keep up with our busy schedules and the demands of our lives. However, caffeine increases cortisol, a stress hormone in your brain. So cutting back on caffeine- even just a little- can decrease the production of cortisol.
#8 Listen to Music
Music can impact your mood instantly. Experiment with different relaxing music when driving or before sleep to help you relax and release the tensions of your day.
#9 Scream into a Pillow
For the moments when it all feels like too much, this is a great strategy for tension release. Go to your bedroom or couch, grab one of your pillows and scream your heart out. Believe it or not, structured releases like this can do wonders, especially if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed.
#10 Deep Breaths
Maybe the easiest and most effective strategy of all, take some deep belly breaths. No matter where you are, deep breathing can release tension in your muscles and help your parasympathetic nervous system calm you down.