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Even before the pandemic, Americans were among the most stressed people in the world. Then COVID came and hit us even harder. Name a group of Americans, and chances are there was a recent survey showing their stress levels have become unbearable: parents, teachers, health professionals, teenagers – the list goes on and on.

Of course, no one can self-care out of this deeply difficult time, and if you feel overwhelmed, you should contact your primary care physician or mental health professional as soon as possible.

But if you just need a way to cope and refocus during times of greatest stress, here are five incredibly simple strategies that can help, in 60 seconds or less. Try them all and see what works for you.

1. Imagine someone you really love.

“You can do this if you’re waiting for the subway, waiting for an elevator, or if you’re just unloading the dishwasher. Think of someone, vividly, whom you really love.” susie moore, life coach and author of “Make it Easy: Simple Ways to Stop Stressing and Start Living, he told HuffPost. It can be your child, your partner, a friend or even your pet.

Remember how they look, how they smell. Think about how comforting they are or how you feel in their presence. “Just think how much you love them,” Moore said.

Researchers have found that personal connection is one of the four pillars of personal happiness, and simply focusing on someone in this way may be enough to help them tap into their calm, happy place and cultivate connection.

2. Schedule your personal worry time.

If you feel like your anxiety is really getting the best of you, a simple “trick” is to write down a designated worry time.

“Many people are anxious during the day and at night, and everything in their environment is associated with anxiety,” Robert Leahy, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy and author of “The Worry Cure,” previously told HuffPost. “What if you could put those worries on a shelf and take them off, say, at 12:00 pm for 20 minutes?”

People often think that if something comes to mind, they have to worry about it at the time. But that’s not true, Leahy said. Instead, it can help to put a time on your calendar where you can sit down and really immerse yourself in your worries, and by the time you do, some of them may have melted away.

So if you haven’t scheduled that designated worry time yet, go ahead and add it to your calendar. You’ll feel better knowing you’ve taken steps to manage your stress instead of trying to ignore it or let it control your days.

3. Host a dance party.

Okay, this one will probably take more than two or three minutes, but if you feel like you need to calm down, put on a song you like and dance your heart out. Research shows that both music and dance can reduce stress levels and increase happiness.

If dancing isn’t your thing, or you’re not in a place where you can do it, just move your body for a minute. Section. Jump up and down. Hold a single yoga pose. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even do a short, vigorous task! Try anything that helps your body release feel-good hormones like dopamine and that will get you out of your own head. (Bonus points if you get active while listening to a song you really love.)

4. Try a three-breath hug.

This one can be especially helpful if the cause of your stress is a child who is about to collapse, but it really works any time you’re with a friend or loved one who wants a hug.

Here’s how it works: In a time of stress, give your child or partner (or whoever you’re with) a “big bear hug,” Shonda Moralis, women’s conscious empowerment coach, psychotherapist, and author of “Breathe, mama, breathe”, he previously told HuffPost. Then take three big inhalations and three big exhalations together.

It is a powerful stress reliever for several reasons. On the one hand, much research shows that deep breathing can promote feelings of calm. Too, touch can ease feelings of anxiety.

5. Change your phone wallpaper.

Another way to take your mind off what’s bothering you, and once again foster that all-important sense of connection, is to look at a photo that makes you really happy. Moore likes to change her phone’s lock screen and wallpaper every week, so she can see something that makes her smile on a regular basis.

“Think about how often we reach for our phones every day. I think there are more than 200 [times],” she said. So put something in there that makes you feel really good, whether it’s a photo of your pet, a friend, a landscape that really moved you, or even a great meal you ate recently. Then change it frequently, because your mind adapts to what you see.

The goal? You want to have something on your phone that “gives you a little excitement or makes you smile” when you look at it, Moore said.

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