Your loved ones will thank you

Winter is here. You can tell by the crisp cool edge to the air, the iced plop sound of the raindrops on your windowpane, and the undeniable desire to wind a warm, splash of color scarf around your neck. The last act only makes me want to indulge in buying more scarves for the long winter ahead. But with these little joys comes a bittersweet anxiety that the holidays are coming and I’m probably not as ready as I’d like to be. Work, school, and the upcoming holiday chores clumped together can add to the pressure cooker I call life and stifle every loving thought and creative spark in my brain.

For most of us, juggling the needs of the many can overwhelm the few (in other words — YOU). But, I don’t have time to take care of myself, you say. Yes, you do. Your loved ones will thank you for taking the time to remove the edge from your voice and the sting from your comments. They will thank you for allowing yourself the time to fill your empty vessel so you can give them the gift of spending time with the real you.

Here are 3 ways I survive all that stress in 5 to 30 minutes a day. Do yourself a favor and choose just one to start on today. You’ll get hooked.

Visualize in 5

If possible, reclaim a moment of relaxed vacation mode by closing your eyes and taking 5 minutes to visualize the sights, smells, and feelings that surrounded one joyous memory of your summer or any wondrous moment in your life. I force myself to take a five minute break from my laptop or visualize while driving to work, or while washing the dishes. In just five minutes, visualization can slow down your heartrate, ground you in the moment, and put you in a more positive place for dealing with term papers, deadlines at work, shorter days, longer commutes, and planning for the string of holidays that pop up like a game of Whack-a-Mole between November and January.

Super Quick Fitness in 10 – 15

I know. Sometimes you’re too busy, too tired, or have too much to do to carve out time for your regular routine. But, ten to fifteen minutes of Yoga, stretching, playing with your pet, or lifting hand weights while you watch TV can keep the stress to a minimum. Volunteers tried increasing their fitness for 21 days just doing these simple things for 10 to 15 minutes per day and found that their blood pressure and health improved. For more ideas, check this out

Brain Play in 30

It’s important for your brain to play – no, not video games. Create Art! You’re not an artist? You don’t have to be one to make art. Creating trains your brain to concentrate on details and pay more attention to your environment. When I create it puts me in a meditative state. The proliferation of Adult coloring books on Amazon is an indication that many people are turning to this childhood love because they’ve discovered the benefits of creating. Don’t want to color? No problem. How about tweaking a favorite cookie recipe, writing down that funny story that happened to you today, playing an instrument, or dancing to your favorite music. The time will fly by without you noticing and instead of feeling exhausted afterward, you’ll feel relaxed and refreshed. You can read more about how art affects the brain at Be Brain Fit, click here.

I know it’s hard to do any of these things when you feel stressed, but instead of thinking of it as something you have to do, think of it as treating yourself. After all, a mental vacation, playing with your dog, or dancing to your favorite music is a wonderful gift to receive. But be warned, rewarding yourself with extrinsic things like guilty pleasure foods, clothes you don’t really need, electronic toys and flashy cars only satisfy for a little while. Intrinsic rewards last a lifetime, help you live longer, and improve relationships at work and at home.