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Thirty Seconds to Less Stress

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and sometimes the most stressful. We tend to pack a lot of extra stuff into this season—holiday parties, shopping, family, travel, our kids’ holiday programs, and more. With our busy schedules, it’s easy to lose sight of the spirit of the season and instead become overwhelmed by the stress of the season. What if you could banish stress right now, in this moment—and it took only 30 seconds?

Stress is an inevitable—and necessary—part of life. You won’t eliminate it completely, but you can change your response to it. These 30-second stress busters are designed to help you make an instant shift in your stress response, thereby reducing that overwhelming feeling of stress and helping you navigate your life with more peace and presence of mind. There is only one catch: 30 seconds means 30 seconds; 5 or 10 seconds is not enough. Give yourself the gift of 30 full seconds and feel the shift.

Breathe. The breath is the shortest road to relaxation and peace. Take a deep breath. Now take another one. Feel different? You don’t have to engage in any specific breathing techniques or lie on the floor for 20 minutes to reap the benefits of this simple relaxation tool. Just spend 30 seconds focusing only on the breath. Lengthen the breath and allow it to move into the belly. Breathe in and breathe out for 30 seconds. For extra stress relief, you can even place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. You are guaranteed to feel a shift.

Loosen up. Our natural response to stress is to clench everything. If you don’t have time for an exercise session, you can take 30 seconds to do the shake dance. Shake your arms, wiggle your shoulders, and circle your head. Silliness helps. Focus on relaxing your face and jaw and drawing the shoulders away from your ears and down your back. Roll your shoulders and stretch your neck from side to side. Loosen the entire body and feel the stress evaporate in 30 seconds.

Visualize. Go to your happy place. Visualize yourself somewhere real or imagined, where you feel peaceful, happy, and at ease. It could be a beach or a mountaintop or a special place that you have visited in the past. Engage all of your senses so that you can feel, hear, smell, and see the experience. Spend 30 seconds there and notice the instant shift.

Affirm. Affirmations are a simple tool for shifting your response to any situation. If you’re feeling stressed, choose a phrase that works for you and repeat it over and over, either silently or out loud. I am calm and peaceful. I feel relaxed. I am happy and at ease. Find the phrase that works for you and start repeating—for 30 seconds.

Here’s wishing you a stress-free holiday season!