5 Quick and Easy Ways for Teachers to Destress in Just 5 Minutes
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We all know that life can be stressful. Between work, family, and social obligations, it's hard to find time for ourselves. That's why we've put together a list of 5 quick and easy ways to destress in just 5 minutes! Whether you're at school, at home, or on the go, these tips will help you relax and unwind. So, take a few minutes out of your day and give them a try!
#1. Take a few deep breaths.
Breathing deeply can help your body relax and ease tension. Deep breathing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce stress. When you breathe deeply, it sends a signal to your brain that you are calm and relaxed. This can help to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as improve your mood. Deep breathing also helps to increase the supply of oxygen to your cells, which can improve your overall energy levels.
Mental clarity is another great benefit of deep breathing. When you take a few minutes to breathe deeply, it can help to clear your mind and increase your focus. This is because deep breathing helps to reduce the level of stress hormones in your body, which can lead to improved mental clarity and focus.
While the best way to practice deep breathing exercises is to sit down and close your eyes. We all know all too well what happens when we do this: you sit down, try to get comfortable, and then close your eyes and guess what happens? Our minds start to go crazy where it tells you that your nose itches, your neck hurts, you probably look ridiculous, etc. You remember those 3 things you need to get from the store. What is on TV tonight? Did I forget to send that e-mail to a parent who contacted me? What if someone walks in on me?
The thing is that the whole purpose of taking this time is to redirect ourselves back to our breath and overtime, the practice becomes easier. You will be able to notice when your mind goes haywire, and you'll be able to redirect it with ease.
For some teachers, these deep breathing activities are a difficult task but as Elena Aguilar states in her book Onward: Cultivating Educator Resilience, "When you sit down to meditate, begin by setting an intention. This could sound like, My meditation today will help me respond kindly to my students and will help me find joy in teaching today. Or My intention in sitting today is so I may be aware of my emotions."
#2. Get moving.
A little bit of exercise can go a long way in relieving stress. Even just 5 minutes of walking or stretching can make a difference. One of the benefits of a five-minute workout is that you can do it anywhere even in your classroom on a lunch break. You don't need to go to the gym or buy any equipment. All you need is your body and some space to move around.
One way that teachers can destress and become more resilient is to build new neural pathways. New neural pathways allow us to integrate varied thinking and responses. According to John Medina who wrote Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, Physical activity is what brings blood to your brain with glucose for energy, oxygen to combat toxicity, and stimulates the protein that helps neurons connect.
Elena Aguilar says, "Movement: Your brain needs it, your physical body needs it, and your emotions need it to."
Additionally, a five-minute walk or stretch doesn't require much of a time commitment. You can fit it into your busy schedule without having to make major changes to your routine.
#3. Listen to some calming music.
Music has the power to soothe and relax us. It can help to reduce anxiety and also boost your mood. If you're feeling down, listening to calming music can help you to feel happier and more positive. It can also help to increase focus and concentration. If you're having trouble focusing on a task, try listening to calming music. You may find that it's easier to concentrate and get the task done.
Furthermore, calming music can also help to lower blood pressure. Research has shown that listening to calming music can decrease systolic blood pressure by up to three points! This is a significant reduction, considering that high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stress can impact your blood pressure and heart. You may also find that calming music may help you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep for longer periods of time. So, try putting on your favorite calm tunes and let yourself unwind.
#4. Connect with nature.
Spend a few minutes outside, surrounded by trees, plants, and fresh air. Let the natural world help you relax and de-stress.
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help reduce stress levels by lowering cortisol levels and decrease overall heartrate. In addition, nature can also help improve your mental clarity. In fact, as little as 10 minutes outdoors begins to lower our blood pressure and improve our mood and focus, according to 2020 research out of Cornell University. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or bogged down, spending some time outside can help clear your head and give you a new perspective. Spending time outdoors is also known to improve sleep quality. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try spending some time outside during the daytime. Doing this will allow your body to sync with Mother Nature's light and dark cycle, which will align and positively influence our natural Circadian rhythms.
One of the best things about nature is that it is free and easily accessible. Some more outdoor activities include: bathing in nature, growing flowers or food, volunteering to beautify your town or area, etc. There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors, so find what works best for you and get started reaping the benefits today! Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel afterward!
#5. Talk to someone you trust.
Sometimes just talking about what's stressing you out can help you feel better. Talk to a friend, family member, or therapist about what's on your mind. Talking to someone can help lighten your mental load, as well as, break down thoughts into smaller ideas so that you feel less overwhelmed.
According to Psychology Today, "neuroscience studies by Lieberman et. al. (2007) and Vago and Silbersweig (2012) have found that labeling our feelings reduces activation in the amygdala, our brain’s alarm system that triggers the fight-or-flight reaction. When we give words to our emotions, we move away from limbic reactivity by activating those parts of the brain that deal with language and meaning in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (Lieberman et al, 2007)." All in all, just talking about what is going on creates a function in our brain that is less reactive and more mindfully aware.
Do you have any other quick and easy destressing tips? Share them with us in the comments below! And remember, if you're feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes for yourself and try one (or all!) of these stress-busting tips. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you. You deserve it!
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