The 30-Second De-Stressor That’s Better Than Prozac

By Susan Falcone
February 1, 2013 • comment(s)
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I spent nine years on anti-depressants. Yep, you heard me right. Nine years.

And in that nine years, I was no less stressed, I just didn’t really care enough to acknowledge what was stressing me out.

Essentially, Prozac (Effexor, Cymbalta, etc.) allowed me to function better during post-traumatic stress disorder from sexual abuse, but on the downside, it also totally forced my brain to numb out my emotions most of the time.

Anti-depressants certainly have their place and may help you cope better—and I think they are essential in many cases—but what they won’t do is lessen the amount of stress in your life or work, nor will they teach you coping skills. That’s up to you.

Back when I was just beginning to mindfully navigate uncertainty in my life, I stumbled into a practice that enabled me to de-stress and relax immediately, no pills necessary.

You don’t need to know how to meditate, you don’t need to go all Zen. You don’t need special music, a zafu cushion or sandlewood scented soy candles.

You don’t need to schedule it, wake up early, go to a special place or plan ahead.

You don’t even need to Om.

It can be done anywhere, anytime, and is so fast that probably no one will notice you just checked out for half a minute.

Here’s my quick method to de-stress in 30 seconds:

  • Stop what you’re doing.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a deep breath.
  • On the exhale, remind yourself you are worthy of this moment to yourself.
  • On the next inhale, call to mind someone, something, or an experience you had or moment that you are grateful for.
  • Smile (yes, with your eyes closed, even if you’re standing in the grocery store line). It’s really important to physically smile.
  • Stay in that moment for about 15 seconds and feel gratitude in your mind and body for that person, thing or experience.
  • In your mind (or out loud) say thank you to that person, thing or experience for giving you a moment of peace and joy.
  • Take one more deep breath, with gratitude, and open your eyes.

Everyone can spare 30 seconds to decompress. If you think you can’t, you really need to check-in with yourself and find out why you think you are not worth 30 seconds of peace.

Typically, this practice helps shift your focus from whatever is stressing you out at the moment, and allows your body and mind a temporary break from the weightiness of your current situation. Gratitude feels a lot better in your body than stress and busyness does, and your body will appreciate the momentary respite.

Susan Falcone, the founder of Powering Possible, is a certified personal development coach and seasoned entrepreneur. Dedicated to helping professional women balance the demands of life and career, she guides them towards effectively supporting their personal and professional goals without burning out, freaking out, or selling out. Her professional life is a testament to her dedication to live life fully and passionately despite health challenges and circumstantial limitations. Find her online at and @SusanFalcone.

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Anonymous's picture

I'm going to try this!!!!

Casey's picture

Nice post! Having the ability and mindfulness to control one's own stress level is so important in all of the aspects of one's life. Good tips that we can all try!

Susan Falcone's picture

That's true! Let me know how this works for you.

Rhonda's picture

Great article! I love zenning out too!

Susan Falcone's picture

Thanks Rhonda! Practicing gratitude has changed my life for sure.