With looming deadlines, emails, kids calling and an ever-growing to-do list, it’s easy for everyday stresses to become overwhelming. “It’s key to take a moment to yourself,” says Ann-Marie Boudreau, a registered spiritual psychotherapist on faculty at the Transformational Arts College in Toronto. For many of us, though, a moment is just about all we can afford. Luckily, that’s all we really need. Here are five anxiety-busting ways to tackle your stress in five minutes or less.
Try walking meditation
Find a hallway or park. Let your eyes glaze over and begin walking slowly, stepping heel to toe. Inhale deeply into your belly with each lift of the leg, exhaling fully as you connect to the floor. “Focus on feeling the breath enter your body,” says Boudreau. “By paying attention to the processes of the body, you step away from the activity of the mind.”
Stimulating acupuncture points in the ear can be a great way to relieve stress without so much as leaving your desk, says Edmonton reflexologist Roxanne Lyon. Place your thumb behind the top edge of your ear, and your index finger in front. Pinch gently on the cartilage, working down toward the earlobe. “Try to keep the motion fluid, then move inward on the ear,” says Lyon. “The theory is that when you work these pressure points, you send the body calming messages, helping you relax.”
Move your mouth
“Some of us hold our tension in our jaw without realizing it,” says Vancouver naturopath John Pidutti. To quit the clenching, tilt your head back and jut your jaw forward to feel the stretch in your neck and jaw. Repeat to the left and then the right, then try it with your head tilted forward. “As you loosen up some of those muscles, you’ll start to let go of your stress.”
Feel your frustration
Daily stress often lingers when we don’t give ourselves a moment to feel the emotions we’re experiencing. Close your eyes and go to that “movie theatre in your mind,” as Pidutti calls it. Tap lightly with all five fingers on the bony area just below your eye sockets, stimulating these meridians—energy channels, according to Chinese medicine—as you replay your stressors in your mind. Pidutti says that it’s important to allow yourself to feel your frustrations, instead of just pushing them aside.
Release your hips
A stressful day at your desk can stress your body—literally, according to Toronto yoga instructor Lindsay Vandenhurk. She recommends a hip-opener hold to release the tension in your lower back, often a result of holding a stiff or incorrect posture throughout the day. Scoot to the edge of your chair and lift your left ankle over your right knee. Use your left elbow to push down your left knee, hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side. “This stretch is a great way to release some tension and wake your body up,” she says.