“Doing something positive will help turn your mood around. When you smile, your body relaxes. When you experience human touch and interaction, it eases tension in your body,” wrote Simone Elkeles.
We are at our best when our body and mind are free from tension. However, the busier we are, the less we seem able to engage in relaxing activities.
Here are 30 ways you can unwind quickly, even if you have less than five minutes to do so:
1. Snuggle with your pet – or one you’ve borrowed.
2. Meditate. The benefits of meditation have been proven beyond a doubt. Just try it.
3. Have a one-song solo dance party. Burn off the stress, and then get back to work.
4. Walk it off. Get yourself outside if possible, and move.
5. Smile to yourself in a mirror.
6. Drink a cup of herbal tea. Green tea can be especially effective.
7. Laugh at a friend’s joke. Better yet, laugh at your own!
8. Spend a moment in the sun. Soak it up for as long as possible.
9. Indulge in your favorite yoga pose. If yoga isn’t your thing, do some stretches. Loosen up.
10. Start planning a vacation – even if it may never happen.
11. View a child’s artwork. Keep a picture of your nephew’s drawing on your phone, or frame your daughter’s latest masterpiece.
12. Treat yourself to some chocolate! Dark chocolate is best, but who are we to judge?
13. Go outside and pick a bouquet of flowers. Give them to a loved one.
14. Work on a puzzle. A good Sudoku, crossword, or word search can get you out of your head for a moment.
15. Keep healthy, crunchy snacks on hand – like veggies or trail mix.
16. Treat yourself to a few minutes of quiet time. Just be alone. Allow yourself to decompress.
17. Chew some gum. The flavor doesn’t matter – the repetitive action of chewing is what counts.
18. Light a candle. Choose a scent that reminds you of a treasured memory.
19. Give yourself a hand, foot, or scalp massage.
20. Unload all your worries to a trusted friend. Usually, once we verbalize them, they don’t seem so bad.
21. Play your favorite music. Feel free to turn the volume up to an obnoxious level. Sing along!
22. Squeeze a stress ball, or find a small toy to keep your hands busy.
23. Watch a funny video on YouTube. It’s a silly tactic, but it works!
24. Add honey to your pastry, tea, or favorite fruit. Honey reduces inflammation and fights depression and anxiety.
25. Smell your favorite essential oil. Lavender is a popular one for relaxation. Keep a vial in your pocket or purse.
26. Hug somebody you love. This one is simple, but so, so effective!
27. Journal about your stress. Verbalize your worries. Put them on paper. Then, read them back to yourself. They will sound much less frightening once they’re out of your head.
28. Count up to a hundred. Then, turn around and count down backwards.
29. Eat tropical fruit – like coconut, mango, or pineapple – and pretend you’re on vacation.
30. Try out some breathing exercises. These can do wonders for chronic anxiety.
“Just breathing can be such a luxury sometimes,” wrote Walter Kirn.