If you’re anything like me, you wake up in the morning, hit the ground running, work through lunch, and only stop thinking about your job when your head hits the pillow. So, needless to say, I occasionally have days where I’m stressed out of my mind.

According to Dr. Paul J. Rosch, the president of the American Institute of Stress, ”Americans increasingly seem to be living life in the fast lane. A better understanding of the harm that stress can cause, as well as the possibility of some benefits, would help an increasing number of people.”

You may think that your day is too jam-packed with meetings and events to find the time for relaxation…and you’d be wrong. Believe it or not, you can take measures to reduce your stress levels that will only take 45 seconds of your time. Here are ten tips that can help you de-stress in record time.

1. Read a Poem

Take 45 seconds to savor a single haiku, or read over your favorite sonnet. Beautiful language can really twist your mind in a way that helps to push away the cares of the day.

And even if poetry isn’t really your thing, you might find enjoyment in reading something with a humorous bent. Think Shel Silverstein, Ogden Nash, or Dr. Seuss.

2. Blow Off Some Steam

Get up and get moving, just for the amount of time it takes to hum a couple rounds of “Happy Birthday”. If you can burn off some of that nervous energy, you’ll feel energized, refreshed, and far more mentally capable of handling the stresses of your day.

If you can get some sun in during those precious few seconds, so much the better. Never underestimate the power of fresh air and sunshine to improve your mood.

3. Follow Your Nose

I’ve written about the benefits of aromatherapy in a previous post here, and I’m still impressed by the speed with which a single sniff of perfume can change my mood. If you don’t have essential oils on hand, peel an orange at your desk and crush the rind in your hand to release the scent of the orange. Orange is a great scent to help you feel energized and rejuvenated.

4. Elevate Your Brain

Meditate, pray, commune with nature…whatever works for you. Take a few moments to center yourself, open your mind, and get spiritual…if that sort of thing is helpful for you.

5. Pump Your Jam

There’s a reason that sporting arenas play songs when introducing the starting lineup for a sports team. The right song can change your outlook on life in under 45 seconds. The trick is to find a song snippet that works for you.

Maybe it’s the “Tro lo lo” guy, something off a Jock Jams compilation album, or the over-the-top intro to “The Final Countdown”. Alternatively, maybe a snippet of something classical would be better for calming you. It comes down to personal preference, and exactly what about your day has got you so stressed out.

6. Don’t Forget to Breathe

Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Slowly. Repeat. Make sure the breaths are steady and full.

It’s just that simple.

7. Chuckle

Hit the randomizer button on your favorite web comic, engage in cube warfare with a co-worker, or check out a website that offers a “Joke of the Day” service. Laughter really is the best medicine, and if you can laugh away the stress, your outlook for the rest of the day will be a lot more rosy.

8. Organize

Sometimes the best way to tackle stress is to clean house and get organized. Set up a new email filter, organize your paperwork, clean the clutter off your desk, or something along those lines. When you have all your ducks in a row, so to speak, your workload will seem a lot more manageable.

9. Snuggle Up

Get cuddly with a pet, a blanket, a favorite sweater….anything soft that you stroke with your fingertips. Just like Lenny in “Of Mice and Men”, most people find that they reach their “happy place” when touching something soft like fur or textiles. Scratching a dog or cat behind the ears can help to quickly lower your blood pressure…if there aren’t any pets allowed in your office, try carrying a lucky rabbit’s foot.

10. Chow Down

Eating or drinking helps to relax us. That’s why we give pacifiers to babies. Just try to make sure you’re making smart food choices (ie, choose a crunchy apple over a bag of potato chips).

Conclusion

There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Stress management is an incredibly important tool, and the more techniques you can master to lower your blood pressure, the better. With just 45 seconds, you can de-stress and re-focus your mind to maximize your productivity.

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