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5 Stress Reduction Techniques to Use Now

I created my own toolbox of simple techniques to instantly calm me and help me focus. It makes me feel like I'm living more and actually enjoying even the days of chaos. Next time you're about to freak out, try these tips instead.
09/11/2015 12:13pm ET | Updated September 11, 2016
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Woman with head in hands

Days when you have 40 things to get done, four places to be and four people to take care of before even thinking about dinner?

All you really want is to pull your hair out, but then you'd be stuck with the same list (and patches of missing hair)?

As a busy mom of three and an entrepreneur, I have days like this frequently. So I created my own toolbox of simple techniques to instantly calm me and help me focus. It makes me feel like I'm living more and actually enjoying even the days of chaos.

Next time you're about to freak out, try these tips instead:

Breathe

When we get all worked up mentally, we also increase our heart rate. The faster your heart beats, the faster your thoughts spin. When you slow your breathing and make it deeper, you literally slow your mind. Take one big breath, in through the nose and out through the mouth, then close your eyes. On your next inhale, breathe in through the nose slowly and deeply, while you count to four. Hold that breath in for a count of four, then slowly exhale through the nose to a count of four. Hold that out for a count of four before starting again. It doesn't get much easier than that, and you can continue for between one minute and five minutes. You will notice a huge difference instantly in your heart rate and mind racing.

Walk

Taking a walk isn't only good for your heart. Five minutes of walking and you instantly can be clear-headed. I'm not talking about feverishly power walking to a destination for calorie burning while you think the whole time. This is becoming more and more aware with each step -- feel your legs move, listen to your breathing and create a rhythm that will instantly calm you AND energize you because you're moving. Look at your surroundings as if it's the first time you've seen them. Sometimes you'll even notice something that has been there for years but you've mindlessly passed by. Keep a slower pace, using full awareness, and let the movement bring you clarity and calm.

Talk to yourself

We control our bodies and the energy within our cells with our thoughts. You can use a simple affirmation like, "I am taking one moment at a time. All is well." The moments our minds buzz and we focus on the future or the past keep us frazzled. Being in the moment isn't always easy, but when you are reminding yourself it's all going to work out, you calm down. Adding slow breathing to this is also a huge help. You can also use a mantra, such as Sat Nam (sounds like sut nom), repeating it as you walk. Mantras are made up of sounds that awaken and balance our energy within and are powerful for helping us to refocus and manifest feelings or things into our lives.

Visualize

You can recollect a memory of being with friends where you were having a blast and instantly feel uplifted, right? Your thoughts create feelings. One simple visualization is to close your eyes and let a color come to mind. As you sit, imagine this color is a light shining above your head then travels down into and around your body. While you see this colorful light moving in and around you, you'll be adding a feeling to it, as if it's melting that feeling (calm, peaceful, relaxed) into every muscle, tendon, nerve, ligament, cell, etc. Try this with every part of the body, watching the color soak in to the head region, being specific with the scalp, eyes, bridge of the nose, temples, jaw, lips, and so on. Eventually, when you come to your feet, feel as if your body is floating in this color while becoming relaxed, take a big breath, and then open your eyes.

Yoga

Yoga is popular for reducing stress and anxiety because it combines different tools that become one beautiful practice with more benefits than any exercise or meditation alone. Combining deep breathing while you move from Mountain pose, then standing forward fold, Downward Facing Dog, into Seated twists then Child's pose is simple and super effective. You can repeat it as many times as you like, flowing through the postures or holding them longer. When finishing in Child's pose, take a few really deep and slow breaths, feeling yourself centered with the energy coming into your body from the Earth. Yoga helps you create the union of a clear mind and calm body.

Next time the to-do list in your head starts piling up and you break down, give one (or a few) of these techniques a try.

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