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Two-minute de-stress

Two-minute de-stress: reducing stress in the current emergency

 

by Dr Paul Duignan


Many people are feeling stressed at the moment with the COVID-19 situation. These include people working on the frontline; people stressed with having their kids at home all day while they are trying to work virtually from home; and, people worrying about their future work and financial situation. Sometimes this stress just hits you like a wave of worry that crashes over you.
 
This two-minute stress tool can help you de-stress really fast when it all feels too much. Whenever you get a chance during the day, follow the steps set out below and do it as often as you can.
 
  1. If possible, go somewhere undisturbed (e.g. the bathroom, if you do not have anywhere else to go). You can use it in the shower, if that is the only time you get to be alone!
     
  2. Close your eyes. Inhale and exhale three deep breaths, take longer on the out-breaths.
     
  3. Count in the following way: (under your breath, or out-loud if it is appropriate to do so) one and one, one and two, one and three, one and four, one and five, one and six, one and seven, one and eight, one and nine, one and ten. Then move onto: two and one, two and two, two and three, two and four and keep going, then move onto three and one next. You might get to about ten and ten over the course of two minutes.
     
  4. Just try to keep your full attention on the numbers as you count them. If you can, slow your counting down so you are taking more time for each count. Slowing down the pace at which you are counting will help you de-stress.
     
  5. If you can, try to drop your awareness down into your body to ‘ground’ yourself. Regardless of how it feels, just keep counting.
     
  6. When you need to finish the exercise, again inhale and exhale three deep breaths. As you inhale, imagine you are taking in positive clean stress-free light. As you breathe out, breathe out all your tension and stress as you exhale.
     
  7. Later on, if you are able to grab two more minutes, standing, walking, or sitting, start counting again at about the place where you last left off, e.g. if you were up to about ten and ten, then start with eleven and one. This gives you a feeling that you are making progress during the day, even if you are just doing it when you manage to catch two minutes here and there.
     
  8. This is the emergency version of the full Focus Your Thoughts Technique that you can use as part of developing a mindfulness practice as part of reducing your overall stress. You can find the full technique described at tinyurl.com/focusdrpaul.

Article posted 4 April 2020
 
photo of Paul Duignan clinical psychologist
Paul Duignan is a Clinical Psychologist with a private practice in Wellington and Online.
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