5-minute tips that will change your life

These days we’re all typing away on our laptops and smart phones too busy to notice everything going on around us. Yet, all that time spent on our digital devices seems to draw us further apart, not closer together. No wonder we are so stressed and overwhelmed these days.

According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2010 Stress in America survey, chronic stress is up. In fact, the APA is considering it a public health crisis. Only 40% of Americans feel their health is very good or excellent. Fortunately, being more connected and relaxed does not necessarily mean taking huge chunks of time out of your schedule. In fact, it can take just five minutes. Here are five things you can do in five minutes, but over time can lead to lasting bouts of pure happiness, joy and healthy living.

Take a Tree Shower
Clinical health psychologist Maureen Lyon, Ph.D. and associate research professor in pediatrics at George Washington University says she often recommends her patients take a tree shower. Find a tree and for five minutes, sit under it, notice what is going on in your body and breathe deeply.

Most of us breathe the wrong way. According to clinical health psychologist Amanda Withrow, Ph.D., you may be unconsciously breathing into your chest. But the proper way is to breathe through your diaphragm. Slow breathing through your stomach is a great stress management tool. iTunes has a Long Deep Breathing app for $0.99 which teaches and helps you practice deep breathing throughout the day.

Engaging all of your senses can help bring you back to the present moment. And present moment focus can help relieve stress and take your mind off of constant worrying.

To plug back in to your life, spend five minutes noticing five things you see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Withrow says, “It kind of forces you to pay attention to the current moment and stop thinking about what happened two hours ago. And stop worrying about what’s going to happen two hours from now.”

According to recent research, giving and receiving four hugs a day could increase your life. And besides that it just feels good. But if you do not have a significant other to fulfill your quota, don’t worry. Lyon says that dogs and cats count too.

Don’t be Cruel
How many times today have you called yourself “stupid” or “dumb” today? An easy way to prevent stress and depression is to begin paying attention to negative self-talk. Notice when it happens and then practice self-compassion.

Article courtesy of Beliefnet.com. Beliefnet offers daily inspiration with news articles on faith, religion, politics, health, family entertainment, sustainable living and more.