My Go-To Habits That Eliminate Stress Instantly (And Only Take 5 Minutes)
By Rachael Taylor
I remember sitting on the bench by the front desk of my Pilates studio waiting for my turn to teach. It was the first time I'd ever taught a class, and I was so far past nervous it wasn't funny. I had my very detailed and color-coded notes that contained my entire routine and I kept re-reading it so I could commit it to my memory. I'd start to go through the routine from front to back, then forget a step, completely panic and start all over.
Why am I telling you this? That experience was very stressful for me, but it in no way compared to the chronic stress I felt every day from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
The difference being, the stress of that first teaching moment was simply because I was stepping out into the unknown. I was taking a risk of looking like a fool or "failing" in front of my mentors, even though they were (and still are) the sweetest, most supportive women.
The stress of chronic pain was an entirely different ballgame. That came from a much deeper place, it was a stress monster that had been unleashed into my life at sixteen and it seemed to have no end in sight.
What if I told you that today I no longer suffer from chronic pain or fatigue? That I found a way to face and defeat those monsters with a toolkit that I still use to this day?
When I became a business owner, I was so excited that I got to help people for a living and I was in control of my schedule. However, I didn't fully comprehend the big picture of entrepreneurship and the stress of starting out. Searching for my groove started to bring back those same monsters.
You may be feeling like that today. Starting, running and growing a business is no small feat and at times the stress of it all can seem chronic and never-ending. Some of what you deal with on a daily basis as a business owner may relate more to my teaching story, but the other half of what you go through could more closely resemble the way I felt with fibromyalgia.
If you’re feeling stressed out all the time and it’s like your mind and body can’t seem to find a break from it, then this post is for you.
When I first started connecting the dots to stress and chronic pain/fatigue, I had already been fighting for seven years and it took three years to get to a place where I had a high quality of life. You can imagine my alarm when those symptoms started to come back into my life as I began my online coaching business. I knew that no matter what, I was not going down that road again.
This marked my line-in-the-sand moment with stress and I committed to making sure that I did all that I could to manage it.
I’ve spent years practicing these techniques and I know that they work. The best part is, they’re fast, simple and easy to incorporate. They only take 5 minutes (some even less) and most of them are location independent - they can be done anywhere at any time.
1. The 5-5-5 Breathing Technique
Breathe. Go ahead, try it. Deep breath in, deep breath out. You'll notice that your shoulders physically lower and your body almost goes "Ahhh, thank you!" Most of us don't breathe correctly and many of us hold our breath when we're concentrating. Have you ever had a side stitch or cramp? That's where that comes from.
The 5-5-5 Breathing Technique is something I learned from teaching Pilates and incorporate into my mindset coaching because it's so effective, it's scary.
Ready to learn? Count up from 1 to 5 silently in your mind as you take a deep breath in through your nose (make the inhale match the count). Then, count down from 5 to 1 as you exhale through your mouth, make a whooshing or "haaah" noise. Repeat 5 times.
Take a moment and do it, I promise it won't even take a whole minute of your time and you'll feel better.
This breathing technique tells your body to relax and switch over from feeling stressed and tense. It's like a mini reset for your nerves and will have a huge impact on how stressed you feel.
You can do this anywhere and at any time, this is a take-it-with-you stress relieving technique that will make your day infinitely better. Practice this when you're driving, eating, before you go to sleep, before a big meeting or right after an argument with someone. Literally anywhere, any time.
2. Shower Mantras
I'm a big believer in multi-tasking when it comes to reducing stress and working on my mindset because I know myself. I know that if I add something to my to-do list that's a complete separate activity, the likelihood that I'll do it is slim.
I learned long ago that if I was going to become a stress management master, I was going to need to trick my brain into thinking it wasn't doing more work than it needed to.
Voila! Shower mantras were born! It's really simple, I take a 5-minute shower every morning. During that time, I talk to myself out loud and reset my mindset for the kind of day I want to have and start the day with a massively reduced stress level.
It's where I disprove my inner critic, shut down negative thinking, speak life and abundance over my relationships, go through the long list of what I'm grateful for and overall set the tone for my life.
I choose to not let things bother me, I choose to look for peace wherever I can find it (or create it if I need to), I choose to focus on what's good in my life rather than my problems and I choose to encourage and build myself up in confidence and courage.
This is not to say I'm not actively working to solve my problems, this isn't a 'just don't think about it" kind of habit.
My shower mantra time gives my mind and body a chance to start on the right foot and not internalize stress. When you start your day full of positive intention and your mind made up, you'll find that things that normally stress you out don't appear on your radar anymore. The more you practice this, the stronger you get and the list of things that stress you out will grow smaller.
3. Laying face up or child's pose
This is one you may be familiar with if you've taken Yoga or Pilates, but in case you aren't sure what I’m talking about let me break it down for you.
Before your mind yells out "I don't have time to do that!" listen to how this works.
Set a timer on your laptop or your phone for 2 minutes. Then lay on your back, face up with your arms out wide (palms up) and your legs straight OR go into child's pose, kneel with your feet together and knees wide then sit back on your heels and lower your forehead to the ground (your arms can be in front of you or by your side).
Whichever you decide, stay there and focus on your 5-5-5 breathing and let your body lift and sink. Stay there until your 2 minutes are up, then stand up, shake out your body and go back to what you were doing.
It’s that simple, you just have to want to do it.
As you build this habit, you can set your timer for longer periods of time. I recommend you stay around 5 minutes at a time since the purpose of this exercise is to be practiced daily. Our minds tend to like fast and instant, so it'll be more inclined to practice 2 or 5 minutes every day instead of 20 or 30 minutes.
The whole point of managing stress moving it out of your body and not letting it sit and tense up your muscles. Each of those habits are things I do my very best to practice on a daily basis, because I notice it big time when I don't. I'm not interested in living my life stressed out and filled with tension, and I know you aren't either.
It will also help you accomplish more in your business, because your mind won't be cluttered with negativity and how awful it feels. Think about it, have you ever had a really painful knot in your neck or shoulder? Did you spend all day thinking about it? It kept getting your attention, didn't it?
Our body is funny like that, it calls attention to itself whenever something is out of balance and it's unhappy. It's like spilling water on your bathroom counter. Unless you grab a towel or sponge as a stop, it will spill over the edge, down the side, onto the rug and soak over to the floor.
Think of whatever is stressing you as the water and the part of your body it's going to is the counter. When you step in and address the situation, that stress not only stays contained at its origin, but it also no longer spills to the rest of you.
I know you're stressed out about your business, there's a ton to do and sometimes it feels completely overwhelming and disheartening. I've been there, we all have, and I know how awful it can feel.
It might be turning internal right now - you may find yourself tempted to agree with the inner criticism that you’re to blame that your business not being farther along. Don’t give in to that bossy voice, your business will grow because I know that you’re not giving up until it does. After all, a strong mind leads to a strong business. If I can do it, you can do it.!
Remember, being an entrepreneur is a big adventure with limitless possibilities and potential but it requires you to grow, be bold and pull on courage to stand up to what’s in your way. Growing to a new level may not be comfortable, but it’s always worth it.
You have this dream for a reason and it’s the perfect time for you to chase it! Enjoy the journey and trust the process.
From one entrepreneur to another…