Got 10 seconds?
Even though it’s written for kids, the tips in Lauren Brukner’s The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control still works a treat for adults. For a quick grounding, push your palms together (as you would in tree pose in yoga). Hold for five to 10 seconds. This gives your body “proprioceptive input,” which “lets your body know where it is in space,” according to Brukner.
Got 30 seconds?
Close your eyes, place your hand on your stomach and take five deep breaths into your abdomen. Deliberately slowing your breath is a way to jump the queue in your sympathetic nervous system. By giving your brain a physical sign of relaxation (deep, slow breathing), your brain will take that as a message that the body is no longer in threat and will stand down the “fight and flight” response, which is responsible for sending adrenaline and cortisol through your system and mobilises glucocorticoids in the blood. Fight and flight is handy if you need to run from a bear, not so good if you feel it constantly from drowning in emails. Deep breath in…
Got one minute?
Stand up, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend over, hinging at the hips, bending your knees a little if you need to, until your hands are at your feet. In yoga this is called “rag doll pose” or Uttanasana. Grab opposite elbows with your hands and just hang out, swaying a little from side to side if you like. “Rag doll pose calms the mind and helps the whole body move towards relaxation by triggering the ‘parasympathetic response’, which means the brain and nervous system switch into their more restful mode,” says Nicole Walsh, co-founder of InYoga studio in Sydney (inyoga.com.au). “The benefits of this pose include helping to relieve back and neck pain, stress, mild anxiety and insomnia.”
Got five minutes?
“The pace of life, the screen time, the deadlines and travel are all increasing and yet the time to recover from these activities is decreasing – we sleep less hours and our sleep is less restful,” says Lauren Godfrey from Lotus Meditation Centre (lotusmeditationcentre.com). Meditation de-excites and calms both the mind and body, bringing with it a range of physical and mental benefits including lowered blood pressure, better sleep, relief from headaches, depression and anxiety.
Godfrey offers a simple technique to get you started: “Find a comfortable spot to sit (for example, on your bed, in your car or your chair in the office). Close the eyes, take a deep breath in through the nose and then sigh out through the mouth, repeating this a couple of times before allowing your breathing to return to normal. Gently bring your attention to the space around your heart. Thoughts will naturally arise and that’s absolutely okay. Thoughts are a natural part of being human and therefore an inevitable part of meditation. When the mind wanders and thoughts arise, quietly and gently return your attention to the heartspace again and continue with this process for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel calmer and ready to get going again.”
Got 15 minutes?
We aren’t designed to sit in chairs all day. When you feel the steam hitting epic proportions, get away from the desk and make time to move. Exercise releases endorphins, the feel good neurotransmitters we all need. Increase in endorphins leads to improved immune response, moderation of appetite and an all-round happy vibe. Damien Kelly (damienkelly.com.au) is an expert trainer known for his killer workout mix that blends strength, cardio and core. “If you’re pushed for time, you can do this workout almost anywhere,” says Damien. “Find yourself a bit of space in a park near a bench or some steps. Then do three rounds of the following: run 200m, 30 squats, 30 second plank, 30 alternate step ups, 30 second plank. Using a running clock, start the clock and round one at the same time. Then start round two on the five minute mark, and round three on the 10 minute mark. If you finish the circuit in less than five minutes you can rest!”