Wellbeing

I Tried Three 10-Minute Hacks To Reduce Stress. Here’s What Happened

It’s called ‘the rat race’ for a reason: our work lives can be messy, stressful and fast paced. It’s great to take a break to get back on track, and it can take as little as 10 minutes per day. I took a week to test three hacks to reduce stress:

#1. Practice meditation

You say ‘mumbo-jumbo’, I say ‘medically backed stress-reduction strategy’. The Mayo Clinic, a non-profit medical research group, says that, ‘even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace’.

While meditation may once have been a religious practice, today it’s commonly used to reduce stress and anxiety, and even treat more serious medical conditions. You don’t need to cross your legs, become a mountain hermit or grow a beard. There are many types of meditation, including mantra (repeating a word or phrase to clear the mind), guided (being led through meditation), or mindfulness (concentrating on your body and surroundings).

I tried guided meditation with Headspace. For a week, I took ten minutes each day to chillax and get away from what was causing me stress. I didn’t like it at first – it’s hard to prevent stressful thoughts popping up when there’s nothing to distract you. That’s why the guide in guided meditation is so great. It’ll tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing, helping you relax and let stressful thoughts pass you by. At the end of the week, I definitely felt an improvement in my stress levels generally, especially immediately after a session, and found it easier to deal evenly with stressful situations.

If you’re up for more meditation, try the 30-day meditation challenge.

#2. Write a journal

Sure, journalling may sound daggy, but you don’t have to start each entry with ‘Dear Diary’. Rather, I used journalling as a zone for complete creative expression without fear of judgement.

There are many theories about journalling, which link it with benefits as wide ranging as improved memory, boosted problem-solving ability and refined communication skills.

At first it takes time to adjust. I took ten minutes each day for a week to write entries, with the goal of writing something about my day, and something I was thinking about for the future. When I began, I felt I had nothing I wanted to write about. Gradually, however, it felt like a block was disappearing, and I even found myself wanting to write for longer than 10 minutes each session.

I also found that if I wrote in my journal before taking on a tough task at work, I was more able to do that task with a clear head and improved concentration.

#3. Tidy your spaces

I wouldn’t call myself untidy, but my stacks of documents and detritus do get a bit out of control. It’s actually one of the signs of how busy my week is – the messier my desk is, the more stressed I am. It’s the same at home. But it’s been shown that being tidy can be beneficial for concentration and health, as well as working to reduce stress.

It didn’t always take 10 minutes (not a boast), but setting a mid-morning reminder to tidy my workspace, and one each evening to tidy the house, made a difference to my attitude. At work I didn’t feel like I was blocked in, and I felt fresh and organised. At home, because I made a conscious effort to be tidy every day, I didn’t felt like I was coming home to more work – on cleaning and tidying.

Stick with it

Journalling was the best way I found to reduce stress. The creative freedom it gives me helps in my job and my general sense of wellbeing. I can do it wherever I am, on paper or on my computer. It’s quick, easy and works for me.

But everyone is different, and each person should have their own strategies. These three had me feeling less stressed, more creative and more organised, helping me both at work and at home. I’ll be making it a habit to continue with my own most effective stress-reduction strategy, and I recommend you find your own.

If these approaches don’t calm your farm, maybe cleaning will.


Mitch Brook is editor of The Cusp. Find him on Twitter @MitchBrook or on Instagram @Mitch_Brook.