"I Tried 4 Different Stress Busters – Here's What Happened"

“I Tried 4 Different Stress Busters – Here’s What Worked The Best”

by | Aug 27, 2020

It’s not just me. In a 2018 survey by the Mental Health Foundation think tank, 81 per cent of women said they felt overwhelmed during a 12-month period. So, when meditation teacher Liza Kindred’s book – Eff This! Meditation – arrived in the mail, I was intrigued. Can small daily practices truly slow life down? I decide to put Kindred’s strategies to the test.

If you have 1 minute… Try inbreath < outbreath

WHAT?

Just take a few (preferably deep) breaths, where you count your inbreath to five and give your outbreath a count to seven. Breathing as a calming technique is not new advice – it’s probably the first thing I ever learnt to do for my own wellness. But, do I actually use it? No, I do not. “We can take direct control of our nervous system by making conscious choices about how we breathe,” says Kindred.

VERDICT:

I set the ‘Breathe’ function on my smartwatch for 60 seconds, three times a day. At first I found the prompts (which beep at random times) a little annoying because I didn’t have a minute to waste on frivolous breathing! But, the watch has a sensor and knows if I’m cheating, so I had to down tools wherever I was – in the cheese section at Sydney’s Harris Farm Markets once – to stop and exhaaaale. By the week’s end I’ve come to enjoy these forced micro breaks, which my heart rate monitor also registers as a drop in my BPM. Nice!

RELATED: The 5 Different Types Of Stress You Need To Know About

If you have 5 minutes… Make a to-done list

WHAT?

List everything that you’ve gotten done so far today, or this week, or even this year. “Be specific, re-read it and take a moment to really appreciate everything that is on it. You’re doing better than you think!” explains Kindred.

VERDICT:

The smuggery I got from this retrospective over my week was really quite surprising. I called my mum! I worked out four times! I made a roast dinner! I went to the movies by myself! Look at me go! I managed to list 22 things that I’d never give a second thought to. This was a great slowing-down moment and it also gave me a confidence boost. I’m going to make it a Sunday night ritual.

If you have 30 minutes… Do a deep clean

WHAT?

Set a timer for 30 minutes and spend that time deep cleaning something that’s been bugging you: the junk drawer, your kitchen pantry. “The point is to stick to the time and relieve some low-grade stress in your life,” explains Kindred.

VERDICT:

I chose a digital deep clean. I deleted thousands of sent Gmails (very satisfying), cleaned my desktop and trashed a load of old files. I still had 15 minutes left so I attempted to clean up my iPhotos but got sidetracked clicking through old travel albums. I’m not sure if this was the point of the exercise, but I found a wonderful photo I’d forgotten about of me standing in the ocean in Cambodia and I set it as my desktop because it makes me happy.

RELATED: 10 Signs Of Burnout And How To Treat It

If you have 1 hour-ish… Try forest bathing

WHAT?

This is about spending time among the trees and connecting with the Earth. “This might help create spaciousness for you,” Kindred advises.

VERDICT:

I’m fortunate that my backyard backs onto bush, so there’s a forest literally on my doorstep. I spent one glorious, uninterrupted hour absorbing it. It’s magical that, if you really tune in, you can hear the song of magpies, whipbirds, kookaburras and wagtails separately. I love that you can hear, see and feel the wind, as well the distant sound of a neighbour playing the radio. I got a kick out of noticing one solitary purple flower in a towering tree that gives shade to my garden, and spent a long time admiring a riot of tropical orange bougainvillea flowers. This is the most relaxing and delightful tip. Nature is the real antidote to modern life, and it’s right there whenever I need it. This little pink book is now a permanent fixture on my work desk. In the words of Ferris Bueller, life moves pretty fast; Kindred’s book can really help you stop and look around so that you don’t miss it.

Best of the Rest

Upgrade your zen with these 60-second stress-busting tricks

1. Belt it out

Singing – especially in groups – promotes an ongoing feeling of wellbeing, according to a study by the University of East Anglia.

2. Legs-up-the-wall pose

Or any fave yoga pose, actually. A Harvard study found that people who consistently practise yoga sleep better.

3. Feel your feet

The practice of grounding – where you focus completely on the bottom of your feet touching your shoes or the ground – increases energy and improves mood, reveals research published in Explore

Recommended to you

More From