How to Chill Out in 5 Minutes or Less

A new term – syndemic – has been coined, which describes the combination of having a disease (like cancer) during an ongoing pandemic (or synergistic epidemic). This term describes that for those living with cancer, the combined physical, emotional and social toll of the pandemic can be especially heavy. This heaviness points to the need for intentional and specific time to promote relaxation.

Choosing a few intentional times of the day, where you create time to promote relaxation, avoid stimulation and unwind your nervous system, can make a significant difference in your perceived stress, help reduce anxieties, improve mood and energy and support more restful sleep. We recommend choosing something to do that doesn’t involve screens or stimulation, and something that you enjoy doing (or will enjoy doing!).

Here are 3 things that you can do in 5 minutes or less to relax:

  1. Try Vipariti Kirani yoga pose, also known as legs-up-the-wall pose. Lie on the floor or bed (with your feet towards the head) and put your feet up, against the wall/headboard. You will be in an L-shape. This pose facilitates a calm mind and a gentle stretch too.
  2. Close your eyes, breathe and start a body scan. This is an easy, accessible way to regain calm and focus and bring yourself back to the present moment. Find a comfortable seated or lying position, close your eyes, take a few deep belly breaths and start your scan: begin at your feet, brining your attention to any physical sensations that feel (Heat? Itchy? Heaviness? Pain?), without judgement, just noticing. Move your attention up your body, from your feet to your lower legs, up to your thighs and pelvis, followed by abdomen, then back, your chest, each arm and hand, ending on your neck, and head and face.
  3. Write it down. Simply putting emotions on paper can make them seem less intimidating and help release them. Part of this process involves identifying and naming how you feel, which is the critical first step in releasing negative emotions. If it feels like your emotions are in control, spending 5 minutes completing “Today I feel…” can have a significant positive influence on your day.

Our need for relaxation has never been greater but don’t stress it! Be patient and curious with yourself as you experiment with new ways to unwind and chill out – you might surprise yourself with what you enjoy.