Taking care of your long-term mental and physical health is an important part of stress management. However, there isn’t always time to take a nap, hike a fourteener, or read a novel. Thus, here are 25 ways to reduce stress in five minutes or less. From eating chocolate to meditating, there is a quick stress-relieving tactic for everyone.
Slow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Try pranayama breathing, a yogic method that involves breathing through one nostril at a time to relieve anxiety. The technique is supposed to work the same way as acupuncture, balancing the mind and body.
2. Listen to Music
No matter what the song, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If you’re in a public place, just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
3. Take a Quick Walk
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating, go for a quick stroll around the block. You’ll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts.
4. Find the Sun
If it’s a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy people.
5. Give Yourself a Hand Massage
When there’s no professional masseuse in sight, try DIYing a hand massage for instant relaxation that calms a pounding heart. Hands in general can carry a lot of tension. Apply some lotion and start kneading the base of the muscle under the thumb to relieve stress in the shoulders, neck, and scalp.
6. Count Backward
When worries are running rampant, try slowly counting to 10 and then back again to calm down. It’s harder to freak out about an upcoming exam or job interview when you’re busy remembering what number comes before seven.
Standing up for a quick stretch can relieve muscle tension and help you relax during a stressful workday. Try a shoulder roll-out or a chest-opening stretch right from the desk chair.
8. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball
You can get an impromptu, relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.
9. Close Your Eyes
Take a quick break from a busy office or a chaotic household by just lowering your eyelids. It’s an easy way to regain calm and focus.
10. Squeeze a Stress Ball
On days when you want to strangle a coworker, your roommate, or the driver in the next lane, squeeze a stress ball instead. It’s an easy, portable, and non-violent way to relieve tension.
11. Try Progressive Relaxation
Anxious? Just squeeze, release, and repeat. Progressive relaxation involves tensing the muscles in one body part at a time to achieve a state of calm. The method (also used by actors) is a great way to help fall asleep.
12. Be Alone
Five minutes of alone time can help you collect your thoughts and clear your head.
13. Get Organized
Clutter could be contributing to your stress. Take a few minutes to reorganize your desk (or table, or wherever you are), leaving just what you need on top.
14. Do Some Yoga
Put your feet up—against the wall, of course. The Vipariti Kirani yoga pose involves lying on the floor and resting the legs up against a wall. Not only does it give the body a good stretch, but it helps create peace of mind, too.
Five minutes of peace is all it takes to reap the benefits of meditation. There’s evidence that just two quick bouts of silent meditation per day can relieve stress and depression. Find a comfortable spot in a quiet place, focus on your breath, and feel those anxieties start to disappear.
17. Cuddle With a Pet
After a rough day, snuggle up with a pet. Pets can boost self-esteem and even ease the sting of social rejection.
18. Chew Gum
A stick of gum is a surprisingly quick and easy way to beat stress. No matter the flavor, just a few minutes of chewing can actually reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels.
19. Sip Green Tea
Green tea is a source of L-Theanine, a chemical that helps relieve anger. Boil the water, pour it out, and take a soothing sip.
Laughter is one of the sillier ways to beat stress, but there’s science behind it. A fit of hysterics can increase blood flow and boost immunity. Check out a hilarious YouTube video (maybe a piano-playing pug?) for a quick pick-me-up.
21. Drip Cold Water On Your Wrists
When stress hits, head for the bathroom and drop some cold water on your wrists and behind your earlobes. There are major arteries right underneath the skin, so cooling these areas can help calm the whole body.
22. Create a Zen Zone
Make (or find) a space that’s completely free of stress where you can go to relax. Set up a comfortable chair or light some incense and disappear there for a few minutes until the tension dissipates.
23. Write It Down
Putting our emotions on paper can make them seem less intimidating. Try journaling before a big exam to calm your nerves.
24. Slurp Some Honey
Drown that stress in sweetness with a spoonful of honey. Besides being a natural skin moisturizer and antibiotic, honey also provides compounds that reduce inflammation in the brain, meaning it fights depression and anxiety.
25. Talk to a Friend
When something’s really bothering you, it can help to share your feelings with a buddy. In fact, more talkative folks tend to be happier in general. So vent to a coworker, friend, or family member.