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Ten 30-Second Stress Relievers

Movement disperses stagnant physical, mental, and emotional energy in your body (stress). In her new book, Ariana Ayu encourages us to “Reclaim Recess” and, failing that, to move our bodies with these ten 30-second stress relievers.


In her new book, The Magic of Mojo: The Creative Power Behind Success, Ariana Ayu teaches entrepreneurs and other high-achieving individuals to tap into your mojo for greater personal AND professional success.

Do you remember how much fun we used to have in recess? That golden time after lunch in elementary school was the best part of the day. We’d play hopscotch, kickball, jump rope, and swing on the swings or climb a jungle gym. After spending three to four hours sitting still and paying attention to our teachers, we would break into a joyful run and simply play with our friends. When was the last time you took recess?

Wouldn’t it be great if, as adults, we decided to “Reclaim Recess?” (It could be a whole movement, couldn’t it?)

When I grew up, recess was the time of day that everyone looked forward to. After sitting still for so long throughout the day, we were practically itching to get up and move. We couldn’t wait to run around, move, jump, relax, and play with our friends. Recess was equated with fun and relaxation. It was a necessary mental break from the work we were doing in the classroom.

If you got to have recess as part of your everyday work schedule, what would you do? Perhaps your recess could be walking down the street to get a cappuccino. Obviously it’s not as ambitious as joining a sports team, but it’s a start. It’s not about giving yourself a stressful challenge; it’s about doing something physical that you enjoy and that gets you moving in the middle of your work day. It really will help you be more productive when you get back to your desk.

Look into your heart and your history to find your perfect recess activities. I challenge you to take recess every day for the next week, and see how you feel. If after one week you don’t feel better, more productive, healthier, and more playful, then stop! (But I doubt you’ll want to.)

If taking recess every day for a week is too big of a challenge for you, and you’re concerned that you don’t have enough time or energy, then (at a minimum), I encourage you to start incorporating some short movement breaks into your day.

There are many types of movement and play that are useful to have in your personal toolbox; even less than a minute of movement can provide stress relief. I’m a big believer in what I call 30-second stress relievers. Doing any of these activities for about 30 seconds can help dissipate stress, frustration, and overwhelm.

Many people spend anywhere from four to eight hours at a time in front of their computer. Typical corporate cultures keep people sitting at their desks without moving until they have to use the restroom, get a drink, or go to lunch. Have you ever watched a child try to do that? It’s really hard for them because their bodies are made for movement! Well guess what? Ours are too!

We think that sitting still for a third of the day is normal because we’ve been culturally trained to do this, and we’re very proud of our ability to “tame” our animal nature. Can you imagine a caveman sitting still all day in an office cubicle? It seems ridiculous, right?

So, how do you honor the natural needs of your body without getting in trouble for leaving your workspace or being judged as a “slacker” who’s never at your desk? You get creative!

How many ways can you think of to move your body? You may not feel comfortable doing all (or any) of these in front of your colleagues, so scope out places you can do these (restrooms, hallways, break rooms, etc.). If you’re the boss, consider adding 30-second stress breaks into your regular workday. This could help bring balance to a stressed out workplace.

The possibilities are endless, but here are a few of my favorite 30-second stress relievers:

  • Jump up and down
  • Hop from side to side / front to back
  • Spin around in a circle
  • Shake out your limbs (start at the feet and work all the way up your body)
  • Dance to your favorite music (or no music at all!)
  • Stand up and stretch (neck, arms, back, legs, etc.)
  • Rotate your joints (wrist circles, shoulder rolls, etc.)
  • Sing and act out children’s songs such as:
    • Head, shoulders, knees, and toes (knees and toes)
    • The Hokey Pokey
    • The Chicken Dance

Engaging in any of these activities can momentarily distract you from whatever stress you’re feeling. When you’re in a state of agitation, stress, frustration, overwhelm, or panic, your brain can’t get you out of it on your own. You need something to break the state and interrupt the loop or pattern that’s keeping you stuck. Movement does that.


This article was originally published on in February 2016.
Ariana Ayu is the author of the Business Mojo column on (a website and magazine geared toward entrepreneurs) which was published between 2014-2016. Ariana is the CEO and founder of several companies, including Ayutopia International, LLC, which develops profitable collaborative corporate cultures, personal celebrity brands, and custom branded websites. Her press and media appearances include USA Today, International Business Times, ABC, CBS, CBS Money Watch, the CW, Eyewitness News, FOX, NBC, Newsday,Virtual-Strategy Magazine, World’s Luxury Guide,, Miami Herald, BlogTalkRadio, and Hollywood Industry, among others.

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