Take 5 for stress whenever you can . . . and you'll be healthier, happier and longer lived. There is an epidemic of heart disease in the world today, and stress is a strong risk factor. The more stressed you are, the more likely you will have a heart event, damage your relationships and lower your effectiveness in life.
Those who manage stress, take frequent breaks and provide good self-care live longer and have healthier, happier relationships.
Ignore stress and you'll pay the price:
Whenever my clients complain about excessive stress in their lives, or lacking time to do anything about it, I always tell them about my favorite stress reduction tool: my 5-Minute Stress Reducer, which I call Take 5 for Stress. Anyone can find five minutes to de-stress and unwind. And, if you can't, you need to take a serious look at your life and what has gone wrong.
How to take 5 for stress. Here's how I did it this morning. You can do the same thing. Or something similar. It's easy, fast and very effective.
I walked away from people, responsibility and all my technology (cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices) and sat on my front porch in an Adirondack chair. I took my shoes off and sat still. Then I began to observe, feel and listen to my surroundings (it helps to be in a relaxing place, like a flower garden, grassy park or near water, but anywhere you can find some privacy will work.) I was in the mountains of West Virginia on a beautiful, sunny day, with a temperature of 72 degrees.
Within seconds, I noticed a large cloud moving very slowly across the sky. Perfect! I trained my eyes on the cloud and watched it drift and flow. Yellow leaves began to drop from the small tree in front of me. Perfect! I watched them fall to the ground, and waited for more to come. Only the clouds and the leaves were of interest to me. Their quiet beauty filled me with a sense of tranquility.
A breeze began to flutter the boughs of the nearby spruce trees. Perfect! I followed their movements closely, taking notice of how the breeze changed the shape of the trees. Soon I felt as though I was moving in harmony with the trees. So now I had three things to focus my mind on: clouds, leaves and the breeze.
That's the key to relaxing: narrowing your focus.
As I was tuning in to these natural phenomena with my senses, I noticed my body becoming more relaxed and the tension in my face and shoulders decreasing. My breathing was getting deeper, my respiration rate decreasing. The stress was peeling away.
The breeze stiffened, and I felt the cool air kiss my face. I let my eyes close and just concentrated on the feeling of the breeze as it touched my skin. The longer I focused on the nice tactile sensation, the more relaxed I became.
Opening my eyes, I saw a small spider spinning a web in the corner, under the floor of the deck above the porch. Now my task was to observe the spider's movements, focusing all my attention and energy upon it and the web. It was easy to do because the more I gave myself to the task of watching, the more relaxed I grew.
I spent the next minute, switching my attention from the silken nest to the sky, falling leaves, the breeze in the trees and the breeze caressing my skin. And nothing else! Now I was really relaxed and my body felt perfectly at rest and at peace. My eyes closed again, and wanted to remain shut for a while.
I was sitting in a comfortable position with good back support, letting my body become a lump in the chair, letting it sink into the chair. If a worry or concern came into mind, I simply brushed it away with a mental broom and returned to my quiet space. There was a slight ringing in my ears. I listened and let it relax me even more. Silence swirled about me and I was sealed in a cocoon of peace and tranquility. Soon, I felt like a new person.
Sometimes I listen to relaxing audio programs to beat down stress. A good program has relaxing and therapeutic suggestions interlaced with soothing music. Many of my clients listen to Bridges Beyond Stress, an original Guided Meditation that I wrote and recorded, once or twice a week to reduce their stress levels and to help them to find peace and serenity. If you're interested in learning more about Bridges Beyond Stress, click the link for more information.
How to take 5 for stress?
1. Sit quietly in a relaxing place where you can spend a few minutes alone.
2.Observe nature in its various details.
3. Let your breathing become deep and slow.
4. Close your eyes and drift with the clouds, feel the breeze or air against your skin and tune your senses to any other natural elements in your environment.
5. Sit, wait, sink and breathe.
6. Dispatch errant or distracting thoughts quickly and return your focus to relaxing stimuli.
Also, you can take 5 for stress by doing a walking meditation or a few yoga exercises on the beach. There are different ways you can rest and chill. Your heart and brain will thank you for it. What's good for one is usually good for the other. And both need a regular and deep break from stress. Even children need a break from stress.
Take 5 for stress and you can give your tired or stressed body a break from all the trouble of life. It only takes five or ten minutes to make a difference. Sometimes maybe you can devote 15 minutes to the delightful task of tuning into the silence and setting your mind, body and soul free. I try to take 5 for stress three or four times a day, and sometimes I can even take 10!
For more info on overcoming stress and instilling a sense of quiet repose in heart, mind and body, try a few of my other articles:
Heart Disease and Relationships