4 Ways to Lower Stress in 4 Minutes or Less

Sporty fit healthy smiling beautiful woman, red head girl holdinLowering your stress level—it’s a fact of life many coaching clients want to address. The sheer busyness of people’s day-to-day work lives causes many to feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and ill equipped to deal with situations that come their way.

This past week, a client came into a coaching meeting feeling just that way. She intended to come to the session to cancel, and started out by saying, “I know I’ll have to forfeit this time with you…”

Rather than do that, I asked if she would be willing to spend just fifteen minutes with me. She agreed. We structured the call so she had three minutes to vent about her day, her week, and all of the things that were stressing her out. Then we tried four different techniques to lower her stress.

4 minutes for Guided Meditation: For four minutes, my client leaned back in her chair, closed her eyes and visualized herself in a mountain meadow. She imagined the sun on her face, the grass between her toes, and the sounds of birds chirping in the trees. With a little bit of guided meditation, she found herself relaxing and felt tension leaving her body.

3 minutes for Affirmations: For three minutes, my client said aloud the things she was most proud of—things she took personal responsibility for. “I am most proud of how I handle unhappy customers. I am proud of my progress on learning German. I am proud of my dedication to my job.” It became a list of the things she is good at that, coincidentally, fill her with energy.

2 minutes for Shifting Perspective: “I feel ____. I want to feel ____.” For one minute, my client acknowledged how she was feeling at that moment—rushed, tired, anxious, frustrated, like coaching might be a waste of time—and a litany of other descriptions that felt negative to her. In the second minute we switched over to how she wanted to feel—energized, excited, ready to get her to-do list done, organized, accomplished, happy. As she acknowledged how she wanted to feel, she commented that she could feel her energy beginning to shift. She realized that she could choose how to feel.

The last technique is perhaps the easiest to put into practice

1 minute to Breathe: It’s a classic. It’s simple. Just breathe. Deeply. In…and out…and again. And again. In one minute, a person can take about eight deep breaths. One minute. Research shows that controlled breathing helps to positively manage stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and contributes to brain growth. Wow—all in one minute!

Each of these techniques takes four minutes or less. You can choose which one to practice. After all, guided meditation during a staff meeting might not be viewed favorably, but eight deep breaths riding  in the elevator might be just the ticket. Or take a lunch break, with dessert being three minutes of affirmations.

My client now finds time in her day to practice these techniques when she feels stress coming on. She reports that while her day is still very busy, her stress level has dropped significantly. Try these techniques for yourself and let us know how they help you.

About the Author

Patricia OverlandPatricia Overland is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

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