10 Things You Can Do in 6 Minutes or Less to Help with Stress
As a lawyer, there are times when you’re going to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Realizing that this truth is inevitable is the first step, but understanding that there are ways you can improve your stress and having a plan for when that stress comes on is an equally important second step. You may be thinking, “I’m a lawyer, I don’t have the time for stress management right now.” I hear you, but in order to become the leader and lawyer you’re meant to be, you have to take care of yourself even when it feels impossible to fit into your schedule.
Luckily for you, stress management doesn’t always have to be a long-winded, transformational process. There are things you can do quickly to improve your situation. Read on to learn more about my “6 minutes or less” recommendations.
1. Take a Walk
If you’re feeling keyed up and are having trouble de-stressing, take a walk. Yes, even a walk around the office to the break room to grab some water or a coffee can be enough to bring your stress down and allow you a brief re-set. Walking helps you get away from stress and helps your body release endorphins, the neurotransmitters that make you feel good. Walking can serve as a moving meditation, allowing you to return feeling more calm and collected.
2. Connect With the Outside World
It can be helpful to get outside to take a break and connect with the outside world. Sometimes, though, there’s not enough time to take the elevator downstairs, walk outside and physically take a walk around the block. The good news is that getting off your computer, taking an intentional pause, and looking out your window to connect with the outside world can help you re-center and provide time for you to calm down. When we experience stress, we can quickly become unproductive and start spinning our wheels. Instead of staying stuck in this place, re-centering briefly with the outside world can provide just enough of a respite to help us move back into problem-solving mode.
3. Connect With Your Body
Often, when we’re stressed, we ignore physiological symptoms. We start to believe that we just have to push through until we finish a task. This can keep us back. Instead, it’s important to stop and focus on what you’re feeling. Close your eyes. Notice where you feel tension. Take deep breaths, counting slowly to 4, hold for 7 seconds, then release for 8 seconds. Deep breaths can be effective in combating anxiety, stress, and depression and also help us re-center and release muscle tension effectively and in a relatively quick time frame.
4. Call a Friend to Share a Joke
When you think about friends who make you laugh, who are they? Is there someone you can call that instantly makes you smile or laugh? Call them, tell them you just needed a laugh, and share something funny you’ve seen or experienced lately. Laughter counteracts our stress hormones, decreases our cortisol levels, and is even more important in times of stress.
5. Make a Dinner Reservation at Your Favorite Restaurant
Sometimes, when we’re super stressed, we are so focused on the present that we can’t see ahead. Something as simple as getting on Resy and making dinner reservations at our favorite restaurant can help us “see outside the box” and allow us to see that there is an end in sight, something to look forward to after we work through our stressful situation.
6. Listen to Music
Do you have a favorite song? Something that either makes you feel calmer (e.g., classical music) or a favorite tune that instantly evokes happiness or a memory of a happy time. It can be helpful to have a music list at the ready with your favorite songs so that you can play one in times of stress. Again, this helps you re-center and counteracts the negative emotions we sometimes feel when we’re under intense stress.
7. Do Something that Brings you Joy
Depending on where you are and your ability to integrate into your current situation, focus on activities that bring you joy. A quick 6-minute walk around the building. Going to pick up your favorite take-out meal. Sitting outside for a few minutes on a sunny day. Playing 6 minutes of guitar in your office. Picking up your knitting project for a few minutes. Be creative in thinking about ways to integrate your “go-to” de-stressors into your workday in quick, 6-minute spurts. This will leave you feeling calmer and also, more productive.
8. Work out Muscle Tension
Take a minute to roll out your muscle tension with a foam roller you keep close by or stand up and stretch. Sitting at a desk all day often builds up stress and muscle tension, and as we are able to work it out, toxins are released. The result – feeling more invigorated and productive as we move through our day.
9. Listen to a Quick Podcast
Whether it be a meditative podcast or something you’re really interested in such as a true crime story, take a few minutes, set the timer, and plug into something that brings you calm and joy. This looks different for everyone as interests vary widely, but have a few interesting podcasts downloaded at the ready so you can connect in quickly. You can add a walk to this or just listen while standing up and moving around in your office to make it even more effective in reducing stress.
Often, especially in times of stress, we forget to dream. Think about a big trip you’d like to take or a destination you’d like to travel to—take a few minutes to research the area and take one small step towards planning one of your dreams. You can even use this as a regular de-stressor as you move through the planning process. Remember to make it fun. Dreaming and taking steps to plan allows us to integrate our work and personal life, while also reminding us that our current stress levels will dissipate at some point.
Contact Rachel Fry Consulting for Additional Support
Rachel Fry Consulting is dedicated to helping lawyers live their best lives (both in and out of the office) and provides training and coaching for associates, partners, and legal teams. For more information services, contact me today!