In many circles, busyness rates a badge of honor in these modern times. Just about everyone is wittingly or unwittingly in competition to out-busy everyone else. With that kind of peer-pressure, you don’t want to take 20 minutes to let go of tension and:
- Be considered the oddball.
- Get behind in your work.
- Be overlooked for the best assignments.
- Miss out on an impromptu meeting, crucial event, or essential social connection.
So you stay busy instead. It feels impossible to take the time when busyness rules, so why even give it a shot?
After all, to catch up, you have to do more not less, right? This is not necessarily so! Here’s the thing – too much stress makes you counterproductive and eventually can lead to exhaustion when you won’t be able to do anything at all.
Let’s say you have headaches, feel irritable, or slightly depressed. You never feel like having sex anymore, but you want to eat all the time and a full night’s sleep is but a dream. These could be signs of chronic stress coming home to roost. Perhaps this is the tip of the iceberg and serious illness is looming below.
Yes, it’s time to get on it and learn how to unwind! Here are four ways you can find 20 minutes to lessen stress even in a busy life.
1. Bring your lunch and use part of your lunch hour to relax. Get out of the office and take a 20-minute walk. Sit in nature if there’s a pleasant place nearby. Sit in your car if it feels comfortable and listen to relaxing music or take a short nap. If you find it too difficult to bring your lunch, try #2
2. Skip the java break. Coffee only amplifies stress. Instead, drink a glass of water, sit quietly by yourself, and breathe for 5-10 minutes. Slow, deep breathing sends a signal to your brain that the “perceived” danger (e.g., stress trigger) is over and sets off the relaxation response. Try this twice a day and you’ll have your 20 minutes of downtime neatly in place.
3. What could be more stressful than conflict with a spouse, family, or friends? If you find yourself in the middle of a fight or disagreement, ask for a time out. The conversation will most often disintegrate if you stay engaged in a fury. Instead, bring your mind back to your body, sit in silence for 20 minutes, and let the anger gradually settle out by itself. Of course, your mind will keep ranting and raving at first, but just watch it all like a t.v. drama and eventually the discourse will decline.
When you feel a bit more settled, you could even imagine putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to see the conflict from their perspective. This isn’t easy, especially at first when the emotions are coming fast and furious. But, with practice, it will get easier and your body will love you for choosing peace.
Isn’t it better to steal 20 minutes from a fight and focus it on easing the stress instead?
4. Trouble falling asleep? Not uncommon if stress is you way of life. Since you’re still awake, use 20 minutes to listen to a guided relaxation tape. I find the sounds of nature highly effective and the Bone Dreaming Meditation puts me right to sleep.
It’s not worth it to lead a pressure-cooker life. There’s a good chance you’ll eventually explode into despair or irreparable illness. Your life is precious and deserves at least 20 minutes of downtime each day. Don’t you agree?
How do you find time to de-stress?
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