We know: you’re busy. Your inbox is into quintuple digits, you do the carpool scramble from school to karate or piano or soccer or champion Lego building, you cook and clean and just simply never seem to have enough time to catch up.
How can you possibly even think about relaxing when you barely have room in your head -or your schedule- to think anymore at all?
Take a deep breath, friends (we’ll talk more about that in a moment here).
We’ve gathered the 40 best ways to relax in five minutes or fewer. This way, you can build relaxation into your day every day…no matter how busy you are.
1. Plan a vacation.
You don’t have to have any dates fixed for it yet, but plan it as though you do. You may not be able to relax on the beach today, but preparing to do so calms your mind and lifts your spirits.
2. Chat with a friend.
Mounting evidence shows that people who are more talkative are happier than those who are not. Enlist a friend to give you five minutes of ranting time…and be sure to repay the favor another time.
Laughter is often called the best medicine and in the case of helping you relax or reduce stress it’s actually entirely true. Check out a funny YouTube video, tell a terrible joke to a friend -whatever gets you going! You’ll be more relaxed in mere moments.
4. Cuddle up with your pet.
Your SO is a good second, but when it comes to cuddling to relax and reduce tension, animals take the cake.
5. Inhale the scent of coffee.
As a great balancing sensation and subtle pick-me-up, the aroma of a cuppa will calm your frazzled nerves. No sipping required.
6. Get a whiff of citrus.
Just smelling orange, lemon or grapefruit aromas can calm your frazzled brain.
7. Have you tried aromatherapy?
This practice of relieving stress by inhaling the scents of different essential oils is highly touted by its practitioners, as different scents affect different emotional triggers in the brain.
8. Stop and smell the flowers.
Really, it’s hard to hang onto tension and stress when you’ve got a nose full of sweet floral scents. Keeping a jar or vase of your favorite flowers near your workspace can enliven your days and help bust stress!
9. Complete a crossword puzzle.
Brain games distract us from what we’re ruminating over or stressing out about by taking our minds away from these thoughts.
10. Get up and dance!
Moving your body + listening to music you love = an endorphin boost to de-stress and a mental break from rumination.
11. Listen to your favorite song.
This gets the feel-good hormones pumping and de-stresses in just a few minutes.
12. Write it out.
Simply putting our thoughts down on paper is often enough to ease the anxiety and stress they are causing.
13. Take a quick walk.
It doesn’t have to be a long one, just enough to get you away from the place where all of your stress is contained.
14. Run in place or, do any medium- to high-intensity cardio for a few minutes.
It’ll get your blood pumping and your heart rate up, as well as boosting those stress-busting endorphin levels.
15. Take a few minutes to stretch.
Even while you’re sitting at your desk, you can still do some chest-opening and other helpful stretches to help ease stress as well as relax your body.
16. Get into an asana or two.
A regular yoga practice works wonders for relieving stress and everyday anxiety, but if you don’t have time, moving gently into an asana or two that you enjoy can help keep you mindfully tuned to your body and its needs.
17. Organize yourself.
Stacks of papers and mail, office supplies everywhere, overflowing inbox…all of these contribute to your stress at work. Take a few minutes to organize your workspace to make it more conducive to productivity. As for your inbox: check out one of these apps.
18. Head for the window.
When you need a few minutes away, don’t start playing with your smartphone. Head for a window and look outside. Observe the world quietly, and curiously. What would the air outside feel like on your skin just now? Is it hot or cold, dry or humid, just kind of middling? You’ll be amazed at how much more efficiently nature de-stresses you than anything with a screen.
19. Light therapy has been used for treatment of depression for decades.
Use this to help with your day-to-day stress by relaxing in the sun’s rays for a few minutes every day. Can’t find the sun? Use a high-intensity lamp that aids in the production of vitamin D.
20. Make an area you can go to for a few minutes as needed to get away from it all.
It can be anywhere, even a bathroom stall, if you can relax there for a few minutes to take your mind off of your stressors.
21. Enjoy alone time.
Learning to be by yourself and enjoy that time, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time, will reduce your anxiety and stress levels.
22. Brush your hair.
Really. Or knit, or fold laundry, or wash dishes. Activities that involve repetitive motion calm and soothe a stressed-out brain.
23. Place your wrists under cold running water.
The cool water will target the major arteries just below the skin and make you feel cooler, calmer, and less stressed. It’s a literal way to chill out.
24. Give the old stress ball a squeeze.
Sounds pretty low-tech, and for good reason: stress balls were CREATED to give us an outlet instead of taking a swing at our colleagues, BFF, SO, or whoever is causing your stress at the moment.
25. Give yourself a foot massage.
Keep it cheap and simple with a golf ball: you can even do it under your desk while working and nobody will be the wiser.
26. Try a little acupressure.
Acupressure might sound like it’s going to contribute to your stress rather than relieve it, but it’s really a system of light touches that encourages better communication between the fluids and energies in your body. You can give yourself a little acupressure by rubbing the soft, fleshy pad between the bases of your thumb and forefingers. Add a little essential oil for extra relief -try lavender, neroli or lemongrass.
27. Give yourself a hand massage.
One of the nicest things about a hand massage is you can actually give them to yourself without compromising the part getting the massage. Bonus: hand massages are especially nice if you type a lot for work.
28. Lower your eyelids.
No, seriously, there’s no faster, simpler way to remove yourself from reality than by simply closing your eyes for a few moments. Give yourself a few breaths to reset and then rejoin the world.
29. Get creative!
Visualization-wise, that is. This is otherwise known as daydreaming: take a few minutes to visualize something that makes you intensely happy, be it fantasy or reality.
30. Count to ten.
Counting slowly upward to ten and then back down to one is an extremely calming exercise. Maybe that’s the reason there’s a YouTube video dedicated to helping with this technique.
31. Give progressive relaxation a try.
Progressive relaxation teaches you to fully tense and then fully relax your muscles to help calm yourself (and help you sleep better, too!)
32. Remember that breathing thing?
It’s helpful. Taking slow, deep breaths can calm a racing mind and a racing heart. Pranayama breathing is super helpful, too.
33. Turn your pillow into a stress-sucking sponge.
Well, visually, anyway. Just the act of laying your head on a pillow can be calming, so rest your head on one and imagine it is sucking up all of your stress.
34. Try meditating.
All you need to meditate is yourself: you don’t need fancy retreats or anything like that. Meditation is just focusing on your breath. When your mind wanders, bring it back to breath. Practicing meditation daily is a known cure for stress and anxiety, and you can do it for five minutes or five days or more, whatever you’d like.
35. Eat a crunchy snack.
Sometimes the sensation of our teeth going through something really crunchy can help. That crunch can come from a candy bar or from a celery stick, so pick your stress-buster and get crunching!
36. Chew on some gum.
Chewing on fruity or minty gum has been shown to relieve stress and improve anxiety.
37. Eat a mango.
Take a five minute break to peel, slice and devour a mango. Tropical deliciousness aside, mangos contain a compound called linalool which is a known cortisol reducer.
38. Eat some honey.
Aside from its widely known properties as a skin beautifier and potent antibiotic, honey also contains compounds which help reduce inflammation in the brain.
39. Eat some chocolate.
Aside from the feel-good aspect of it, dark chocolate can regulate cortisol and metabolism, making it an awesome go-to to relieve stress and anxiety.
40. Sip on some green tea.
Green tea contains multiple potent compounds that are great for your health, including L-Theanine, which helps to reduce anger.
What do you think of these suggestions? Which are you going to try? Which did I miss adding to this list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.