September. The kids are back to school. There’s a nip in the air. It feels like a brand new year, and with that comes a renewed sense of excitement and passion for your business. GREAT news! But for a Virtual Assistant managing a number of clients (who all have a renewed passion for their business) September often becomes STRESS-tember – a month of increased workloads, client demands, deadlines and nerve-frazzling stress.
There’s little time to book that 60-minute massage, get out to a relaxing Yoga Class or soak in a hot bath for an hour. But de-stressing shouldn’t be thought of as a ‘luxury’. It’s something you actually NEED to stay in good health. So what’s the solution?
Here are 10 instant stress-busters you can do in just 10 minutes or less:
- Guzzle some water Believe it or not, when you’re stressed out your body needs even more water. When you’re busy with client work it’s easy to forget to take a water break. As your body becomes more and more dehydrated, your stress level only increases. So chug some H2O for an instant pick-me-up.
- Eat a small snack. Most of us already know the calming effects of eating (like that time you felt anxious and inhaled the mac & cheese with a side helping of mashed potatoes). But I’m definitely not suggesting you over-indulge in comfort foods. A small snack (such as veggies and hummus or 10 almonds) can help keep your blood sugar steady and leave you feeling more clear, balanced and focused. Click Here to visit Prevention.com’s awesome list of snack ideas to combat stress.
- S-T-R-E-T-C-H. We tend to hold onto stress in our bodies – especially areas like the shoulders, lower back and neck. Gently stretching out these areas helps increase blood flow and reduce soreness so you can relax and get back to being a perfect Virtual Assistant. There are lots of 10-minutes or less stretching videos on Youtube that you can use to guide you. Check out the 10-minute desk break from Karen John’s Yoga.
- Get out the coloring book. OMG – Adult coloring is my new obsession. Grab yourself some markers or pencil crayons (I like Prismacolor Premier) and take 10 minutes to zen out with a coloring book. Along with the nostalgic feel-goods that remind us of our childhood – there is actual scientific research that suggests coloring can lower the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress. Many people find coloring Mandala’s (circular designs used in Indian religions symbolizing the notion that life is never ending) particularly relaxing.
- Give ASMR a shot. What the heck is ASMR? Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is kind of a new thing…and kind of hard to describe. Although there is little science to back it up – many people (myself included) get an interesting, pleasurable sensation in response to certain visual, auditory or cognitive stimuli. In other words – when you see or hear certain things (often someone whispering or taking care with something) you get a neat feeling that’s also insanely relaxing. It sounds cuckoo, I know. But it works for me and it just might work for you too. You can learn more about it (and try it our yourself) by checking out GentleWhispering on YouTube.
- Give yourself a hand massage. Virtual Assistants tend to spend aaaaallll day typing so a quick DIY hand massage can do wonders to relax and recharge you. Using a soothing scented hand cream such as lavendar or vanilla will increase the calming effects.
- Crank the tunes. There are loads of studies going on that link the positive benefits of music when it comes to stress levels. Music has been shown to lower pain, alleviate depression, improve mood and reduce stress. Since everyone’s taste is different, it’s hard to say which songs will produce the best effect for you. Generally, choose something calm and familiar to slow down your racing thoughts and produce that sense of relaxation.
- Inhale and exhale. That’s right…breathe. As you know, stressful situations promote a change in breathing patterns (picture lion unexpectedly jumping out at you from behind a bush…are you breathing heavily?) Likewise, the day-to-day stress of a busy workload can often cause us to breathe more shallow and rapidly. Taking 10 minutes to breathe mindfully can help slow us down and leave us feeling calm and refreshed. I particularly like Dr. Andrew Weil’s “4-7-8” breathing exercise to chill me out.
- Step outside. Perhaps you don’t have time for an hour long hike in the woods but it’s easy-peasy to pop outdoors for a few minutes. There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh air after a rain, the feeling of bare feet on grass, the sense of community when saying hello to neighbors or the feast for the eyes of blue sky and greenery to help you de-stress.
- Try a one minute stress buster. Don’t even have 10 minutes you can use to wind down? There are lots of things you can do right at your desk in a minute or less. Count to 60. Look through your vacation photos. Scream and shout for a minute. Close your eyes and visualize your next vacation. Pet your pooch (or kitty) for one minute. Even taking 60 seconds to clean and straighten your desk can help lower stress levels.
So how’s business for you this September? Are you super busy and stressed out? Try one of the stress-busting tips above and let us know how it works for you in the comments.