By Mary Ellen Zung, Lakeland Hills YMCA

We could all use some help when we feel overwhelmed, and much of what we really need is determined by our own self-reliance. But, if we don’t have the skills to muster up the strength or clarity to know what to do, things can get even more out of control. Learning to help ourselves cope is essential to our overall health and happiness. 

 Here are 7 simple one-minute lifestyle hacks to try when feeling uncertain, overwhelmed, or stressed out!  Really, all it takes is one minute!


  1. BREATHE – This is the most essential and foundational hack, and that’s why it is first on the list. Just stop, inhale and sigh it out with a big exhale with your mouth open, then close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose, and exhale through your nose.  Repeat this for one minute.  Thoughts will come and go, but try to tune into your breath, and what is happening in your body.  Let the thoughts float away and come back to your breath.  Don’t judge yourself during this time, just focus on your breath.  It’s only one minute.
  2.  THINK – Ask yourself and think: “What is the most important thing I can do right now for myself to get in control.”  There will be all kinds of answers each time you do this, based on the situation.  Sometimes the answer is to breathe for a minute.  Sometimes the answer is to walk away.  Sometimes you might need to have a calm conversation with someone, or let them know you’d like to schedule some time with them; then schedule it. Or maybe sit quietly and write for a minute.  That brings us to the next hack.
  3. WRITE – Try the three gratitude’s activity.  Again, this only takes one minute.  Grab a piece of paper or a post-it note, or a cocktail napkin, anything that is around, and write three things you are grateful for today and why.  It could be as simple as “I woke up this morning.”  “Why, because I have an alarm clock, and I was responsible enough to set it in order to meet my responsibilities and obligations today.”  Then write a second, and a third.  If you are not accustomed to this, it might actually be difficult to come up with something, but just pick something and write it.  Just like yoga and meditation, gratitude is also a practice.
  4. SAY NO – Protect yourself and your time by not agreeing to do things that are not in line with your purpose, and your goals.  This might sound selfish or mean spirited, but we’re talking about your health and happiness.  No one else is better equipped to take care of you than YOU. Don’t allow someone else’s monkey to jump on your back.  If you are feeling taken advantage of, then you ARE being taken advantage of.
  5. GO TO SLEEP – When there are too many things on our plate and we are trying to get everything done, we may be forfeiting our all-important sleep time.  Our bodies do not function well with lack of sleep, and this just adds to the stressed state in our bodies. This interferes with mood, rational thinking, hormones and weight, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and the list goes on. Set a bedtime each day and try to stick to it no matter what is not done.  This is one of the most difficult challenges I see with many of my clients.  Decide what time you have to get up the next day, and then subtract at least 7 hours.  That’s when you need to go to sleep.  Keep a notebook at your bedside table when starting this new practice because your mind will probably be racing with everything that still needed to get done.  Write these things down. You can take care of it tomorrow.  And with your new delegating practice (next hack), things will get better.
  6. DELEGATE – Take one minute to STOP and think about something that can be taught to and delegated to someone else at home or at work.  Make a list of all the things that can be delegated and then jot some notes about how that will happen.  Yes, it will take some time later to have conversations, teach, and make sure the work is getting done appropriately, but once it is delegated, in the future, these tasks will no longer be consuming your day and precious time.  So just take one minute and make a list.  It’s a start to a powerful change in your life.
  7. PLAN – Before you go to bed each night, look at your calendar for the next day, and a week at a glance as well.  Have a schedule for each day with chunked times of appointments and your priorities.  And schedule time for YOU.  Start to put YOU into your schedule.  Schedule time with friends, for exercise, and for other passions.  Scheduling only takes a minute.  Then stick to it.  Stick to you and what you need for a happier and healthier you.

 Mary Ellen Zung is a Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach. She can be reached at