One Simple 5 Minute Activity I Always Do When I Am Stressed Out

It helps to relieve stress, increase my positivity, and maintain my sanity

Photo by Dev Asangbam on Unsplash

5 minutes isn’t a lot of time. But it is enough time for an activity I like to do when I’m stressed out. It was born out of late nights working on client deliverables as a consultant. It helped me maintain my positivity when I had to go to work on the weekends. When I could feel myself going insane from the work I had to do, I daresay it helped to reset my sanity.

The activity is writing three things I am grateful for. What? How would writing three things you are grateful for help to relieve stress? I don’t know how it does it, but it helps me.

Late into the night, I finish grinding away at a deliverable. I close my laptop, open my journal, and write three things I am grateful for. And it’s not the exercise of writing three things I am grateful for. I think about it, re-live it in my mind, silently give thanks, and then I write it down.

This simple act has made all the difference for me.

Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. And I like to practice gratitude not because it helps make me happy, but because it is something I can always do, no matter where I am, or what situation I am in. I can be on top of the world, or down in the deepest dumps, but there is always something in my life to be grateful for, whether it’s a roof over my head, food in my stomach, or just the shirt on my back.

The activity is simple enough that I can do it anywhere too — whether I’m at home, travelling abroad, or at work. And it’s a small enough activity I can practice every day (I mean who doesn’t have 5 minutes to spare?).

If I had to point to the biggest benefit of the exercise, it would be this: it helps me shift into a positive mindset. It’s one reason why you shouldn’t look at your phone the first thing in the morning — you bombard your mind with negative news and burning fires and that affects you throughout the day. And every time I complete the activity, I come away positive and grateful, not just for the three things I listed, but for many other things too.

Listen, if you made it this far, can I ask you for a favour that will help you more than it will help me? Take out a piece of paper, think about your day so far, and write three things you are grateful for in your life. It can be your spouse. It can be a hot cup of coffee. It can be a splendid book you have read. A delightful conversation you had with a friend. As you write what you are grateful for, re-live the memory. Imagine yourself drinking that hot cup of tasty coffee. Or laughing at your friend’s jokes. Or thinking how you were enlightened reading a certain passage in a book you read.

Author of Essential Habits. Inspiring others to live better and happier lives through better habits, work and career advice, and mindset changes.

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