Workload and time pressure are cited as top stressors for farmers. Each season brings its own hectic pace, and carving time out of the day for self-care may seem impossible. Here are five research-based ways to reduce stress in five minutes or less.
Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Almost any form of exercise or movement can improve your fitness level while reducing your stress. Pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, dancing, weightlifting, and gardening. (And chores don’t really count . . . exercise away from your stressors is ideal!)
Mindfulness can lead to less intense stress responses. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment on purpose. Use your senses. Start with a mundane task such as brushing your teeth, washing dishes, or driving . . . and try being mindful for one minute. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste? As you get the hang of it, dedicate a little more time to this activity.
Taking six deep breaths within 30 seconds significantly reduces blood pressure. Deep, slow breathing is the oldest and best-known techniques to reduce stress. Take six slow deep breaths. Slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Each breath should take about five seconds.
When we express and cultivate gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, two hormones that make us feel happier. Taking time each day to feel gratitude may improve your emotional well-being and help you cope with stress. Try to start or end your day with one thing you are thankful for. Using this practice during difficult times is even more beneficial.
Studies show that a network of social support is critical in helping you through stress and tough times. Surround yourself with at least a few good friends. Make an intentional effort to reach out to friends on a regular basis. It is not only good for you but beneficial for them, too.