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Need a Post-Sandy Stress Reliever? Take Small Breaks

November 6, 2012
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228864

As entrepreneurs on the East Coast can attest, starting and running a business doesn't always go as planned.

Hurricanes and other natural disasters aside, on many days lunch is not an option and working twelve or more hours straight can seem like the norm. But there is a way to make these less overtly stressful moments easier to handle.

Consider taking more breaks. It sounds simplistic, but breaks can actually have a big effect on your overall health and wellbeing. Here are six simple and quick suggestions for breaks that will help you feel refreshed in just five minutes or less:

1. Breathe. Taking deep and relaxing breaths can change your perspective and lower your stress level in just a few minutes. Start with a simple breathing pattern. Stand up and take a deep breath through your nose for the count of seven. Work hard to fill your lungs and belly, holding your diaphragm to feel it move. Hold that breath in for seven seconds, and let it out through your mouth for a count of seven. This is just one simple breathing technique. Search “yoga breathing” for a much fuller discussion of various breathing techniques with instructions.

Related: 8 Tips for Finding Focus and Nixing Distractions

2. Stretch. Stand up, get up on your toes and stretch your arms up as far as you can. Bend over and try to touch your toes, relaxing down rather than forcing it. Reach your arms toward your back and stretch your chest. Roll around from your waist, bending forward, to the sides and backward and let your body move in a fluid, relaxed way. Place your head against your chest and slowly roll it around three times in each direction, reaching your head toward your chest, sides and back as you roll. Bring your shoulders up and then roll them around from front to back. Sit down and roll your feet at the ankles in both directions. If you want, shake your whole body to loosen it. In a few minutes you can wake up your muscles and get your circulation pumping. These tactics are particularly helpful if you spend a lot of time at a desk in front of a computer.

3. Stop snacking. Just don't do it. Don’t reach for that candy bar. You will get a short burst of energy followed by a drowsy drop as your body reacts to the sweets. Try a few nuts -- whatever kind you like -- some trail mix, sliced cheese on crackers or any combination of protein and carbs that you prefer. Combining protein and carbohydrates with a little fat will give you a snack that will keep you fueled for longer during extended work hours. Think of adding a hot drink, too. That can also keep you calm.

Related: 5 Ways Start-up Founders Can Eat Healthy on the Cheap

4. Go outside. A short walk is ideal, but even stepping outside for a few minutes gives your mind and body a break. Simply breathing fresh air, looking at something new and seeing the sky will refresh you.

5. Call friends or family. A quick phone call to someone who is important to you will take your mind away from work and allow you to access your personal support system. Even a five minute conversation can leave you refreshed and ready to continue with your day.

6. Bonus. Combine any of the above steps. Step outside for your breathing, stretch and then take some deep breaths, take your cellphone outside when making that personal call. Combining two or more of these techniques will more than double the relaxing impact of your mini-break.

Related: Want to Nurture Creativity Among Employees? Assign Crazy.

None of these breaks require more than five minutes of your time, but they can all give you that second wind needed to continue with your entrepreneurial efforts. You might want to encourage your employees to take advantage of these same tactics. Who knows, you could end up with a more relaxed and productive work environment for everyone.

What's your best relaxation technique? Let us know in the comments section below.