Stress is a part of everyday life, and a certain amount of stress can be useful to spur us on to be productive and get things done. However, stress is only healthy if it appears in short bursts, and we are able to bring our nervous systems back into balance. The problem is that most of us live with too much stress, and chronic stress, especially over the long-term, is detrimental to both our physical health and our mental health.

Most people experiencing chronic levels of stress is often because they have so many competing priorities, self-care often takes a backseat to more pressing problems and say they don’t have the time to look after themselves in a way that would be helpful.

The truth is, reducing stress, and prioritising self-care, does not necessarily mean signing up to a gym or spending hours meditating. It is possible to build in good self-care practices, in small increments. It is also possible to reduce stress by bringing our nervous systems into balance at various times throughout the day, and this may help to stave off more serious physical and mental health issues. Here are some quick and easy five minute activities which will re-centre you and calm your stress response:

1. Breathe! Taking a five minute break to take a couple of deep breaths will make you feel calm and relaxed and will signal to your nervous system that you are safe. Breathe deep into your belly, as far as you can go, followed by a long out-breath and repeat 2 – 3 times.
2. Practice gratitude. Think about 5 things you are grateful for in this moment.
3. Connect with a friend or smile at a stranger. Being in co-regulation with another person helps us to feel like we are not alone.
4. Take in nature. Simply take a moment to look at the sky or a tree or plant. Notice the soothing and calming feeling that nature offers.
5. Listen to your favourite relaxing song. Enjoy the rhythm and melody of soothing sounds.
6. Take a five minute mindfulness break. Simply relax and take in your surroundings. Notice what you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel.
7. Enjoy some soothing scents. Light your favourite or use a diffuser with some calming essential oils such as lavender or bergamot.
8. Go for a short stroll. Walk slowly and rhythmically for a few minutes.
9. Give yourself five minutes of doodle time. Allowing your creative self to draw or scribble can have a calming effect on the brain.
10. Jump around or shake it off. Being silly for five minutes can activate our play circuits which can de-activate our stress/fear circuits.