Feel Like You’re Going To Pieces? Here’s How To Pull Yourself Together

Sometimes five minutes can make a world of difference.


Michael Easter |

Increasing deadlines, unavoidable bills, social obligations – somehow our to-do lists just keep growing without an end in sight. It can be overwhelming to say the least. While jumping on the first plane to a luxurious destination seems like an attractive idea, it’s not feasible for most of us.

Your best bet? Carve out some time in your day when you can just be still without worrying about your problems.

Related: Motivate Yourself To Meditate

Start by trying this simple six-step mediation:

1/ Sit with Your Eyes Closed
You don’t need a monastery, just a spot with minimal distractions. The point is to practice tuning out intrusions.

2/ Focus on Your Breath
Take several slow inhalations, exhaling completely after each one.

3/ Quiet Your Brain
“Imagine your mind as a clear, calm, blue sky,” says Timothy Olson, a North Face athlete and two-time winner of the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run. Sometimes a cluster of storm clouds will obscure that blue sky, but the sky is always there. Allow your breath to take you to a less turbulent place.

4/ Do a Body Scan
Take stock: How are you feeling at this moment in time? Where in your body do you feel clenched? Where do you feel light? Don’t try to change anything you observe. Just recognise it.

Related: 15 Instant Ways to Make Yourself Happier

5/ Suspend Judgment
“It’s okay if you’re having a stressful day,” says Olson. Try to pay attention to the way you’re feeling without becoming discouraged. Whenever your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath – again and again.

6/ Build Endurance
Start with five minutes and be patient. Then work up to 10, 20 and 30. “Meditation is exercise for your brain,” Olson says. “The more you do it, the easier it becomes.”

Otherwise, take a five-minute vacation. You don’t need a beach in Belize to escape your problems. These three tricks stop stress faster than a mai tai.

Related: 24 Ways to Smile Through Life’s Stress

Sniff This: Mix a drop of eucalyptus oil with 19 drops of almond oil. Then place a few drops of the formula on a cotton square and enjoy the aroma for five minutes. In a study from Korea, people who did this saw their anxiety levels dip. That may be because a compound in eucalyptus called 1.8-cineole reduces blood pressure and relaxes muscles. Put that cotton square in your car’s cup holder to take some of the rush out of rush hour.

Go Row:
Is the boss treating you like a piece of old takkie? Get thee to a rowing machine. Just five minutes on the erg can ease feelings of aggression caused by criticism more than hitting a punching bag will, according to Ger­man research. Rowing at a moderate 11 km/h can relax your muscles in a way that counter­acts the tension induced by anger.

Eat Chocolate:
Men who ate 50 grams of dark chocolate two hours before a stress­ful task developed less inflammation than those who munched a placebo chocolate, a study in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity found. Credit the antioxidants. The chocolate was 72% strength – like Honest (honestchocolate.co.za) or De Villiers (available at Woolworths).

READ MORE ON: anxiety meditation mental health stress