25 Quick Ways to Reduce Stress

Taking care of your long-term mental and physical health is important in stress management. However, there isn’t always time to 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.

1. Breathe

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 is, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favourite tune makes everything seem all right. If you’re in a public place, just listening to music can quickly fix 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, 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.

7. Stretch

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 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 you 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 against a wall. Not only does it give the body a good stretch, but it helps create peace of mind, too.

15. Eat Some Chocolate

A square (about 1.4 ounces) of the sweet stuff can calm your nerves. Dark chocolate regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stabilizes metabolism.

16. Meditate

Five minutes of peace is all it takes to reap the benefits of meditation. There’s evidence that 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 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 flavour, just a few minutes of chewing can 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.

20. Laugh

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 cold water on your wrists and behind your earlobes. Major arteries are right underneath the skin, so cooling these areas can help calm the whole body.

22. Create a Zen Zone

Make (or find) a space completely free of stress where you can relax. Set up a comfortable chair or light some incense and disappear 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 and fight 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.