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How’ve you been? No, seriously. I mean how have you been? If you want to plead the 5th here, I completely understand. To say that this past year has been a challenge, is simply an understatement.

Last year, I shared a little perspective into what it’s like to be a copywriter and a new parent, and how both jobs can be similarly challenging and rewarding. Back then, in the “before times,” I was just trying to navigate the early days of motherhood. Flash forward and we’re almost one year into a pandemic. Covid-19 has changed everything, for everyone. And I don’t know about you, but in my home, we were blindsided by the new balance of being work-from-home professionals and parents.

Working from home has many challenges that can add to your stress.

Whether working from home with kids or not, we all need ways to decompress during our busy days. In advertising and so many other industries, we’re met with incredible peaks of busyness throughout the year. I’ve learned during this time spent at home that it’s so important to do things for myself to maintain sanity.

If you’re like me and can’t take an incredibly long time out of your day to de-stress, one of these 30-minute-or-less activities may help you clear your mind and reset.

5 Ways to de-stress in 30 minutes or less

Tip #1: Take a 30-minute drive

Home isn’t just home now. It’s work, school, and the gym. Because of that, we all need a place where we can chill out – alone. When I need that space, I take refuge in a drive.

It’s no surprise that fake commutes have become all the rage. People are getting up early and driving (some to their old offices and back) just to feel some sense of routine. While I don’t really miss my actual commute, I do miss the alone time in my car. The silence. Time to think. Or just to zone out with my favorite podcast.

Time alone in your car can drive away the stress of the day.

Whether it’s in the morning, or sometime during the day, get in your car all by yourself and put on the music you like, stop at your favorite coffee place, roll down the window, and just enjoy the solitude. Just do whatever you want to do. If you don’t have a car, see tip #2!

Tip #2: Get outside for 20 minutes

Experts say that just 20 minutes spent outdoors in nature each day can improve your mood and brain function. I know this one is easier said than done, especially if you have kids or a full calendar, but get out there if possible, because the benefits are definitely worth it!

Busy day working from home? Take a walk outside. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

You can do this any time of year. Grab a lawn chair and drive to your favorite local park to get some summer sun, take your umbrella for a rainy stroll, zip up your winter coat and go for a quick walk around the block.

Tip #3: Meditate for 15 minutes

It’s easy for me to spend every moment when I’m not working, or caring for my son, on tasks around the house. A quick load of laundry between meetings, logging off from work only to do dishes that stacked up from the day, pulling weeds in the garden over a lunch break. It goes on and on (and on … and on!). After months of this cycle, I tapped into a resource that I valued so many years ago — meditation.

If you don’t know how to meditate, don’t worry. There are affordable and free ways to learn how, right at your fingertips. YouTube has great guided meditation accounts to follow for free, so you can dip your toe into the meditative waters without the financial commitment. Many apps, like Calm and Headspace, can help you decompress from your day but charge a monthly subscription fee, around $15.

With any of these resources, you choose the time and type of meditation you want to embark on, whether it’s a 15-minute guided meditation during the day or something longer to help you fall asleep at night.

Tip #4: Try a 5-minute bullet journal

As a writer, I love to journal. Not only are journals a great way to record these “unprecedented times,” they’re a wonderful way to get out your thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a space just for you. If you’re not a writer, and you’d like to try journaling, there are few ways to start. One method is called free association — just start writing and see what hits the page.

A bullet journal helps you reflect on the past, organize the present, and set goals for the future.

But, if you crave more organization or purpose, try a bullet journal! This highly intentional system of journaling, also known as “Bujo” to its cult followers, helps you reflect on the past, organize the present, and set goals for the future with organized bulleted lists. These journals even include symbols and an index to help you keep track of goals. Though I’m more of a free-association journal keeper, I know many friends that find bullet journaling very rewarding.

Tip #5: Do acupressure for 5 seconds

An instant way to relieve anxiety and stress is right in your hands.

This is one I use often. As someone who has a bit of presentation anxiety, acupressure comes in handy (no pun intended) anytime I need to present on a call. Or even when I simply need to pause to give my hands a break from typing throughout my day. While there are many acupressure points, the most accessible points on your body while at your desk are your hands and wrists.

The easiest point to access is called the union valley point. It is positioned in the fatty part of your hand between your thumb and index finger. Simply find this spot with your other hand, and apply firm pressure while taking slow, deep breaths for 5 seconds. Repeat if necessary.

Another point to try is the inner frontier gate point. You can find this point at three fingers width below your wrist. Apply pressure to this point and massage for up to 5 seconds.

While it’s true that research is limited on acupressure, I find that just the act of practicing it takes my mind off of stress or anxiety I may be feeling. And it takes no time at all!

This pandemic has been tough on all of us. Whether you’re a parent, a dog mom, a cat dad, you live alone, or you have a full house, you should devote some time to yourself during the day for your health and wellness. I genuinely hope these quick tips help you to de-stress and decompress while we ride out the storm together.