Not everyone needs a cabin the woods, but five minutes of alone time can help you collect your thoughts and clear your head.
Create a Zen Zone
Hiding in a bathroom stall might not sound calming, but do 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.
Find the Sun
Here comes the sun—and some stress relief. 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 folks .
Look Out the Window
No spying on the neighbors allowed. When things get hectic, take a five-minute break to do nothing but stare out the window. Looking at nature scenes like trees and public parks can be a lot more relaxing than staring at the TV screen.
A stack of papers, three tape dispensers, a bunch of misshapen paperclips: All this clutter could be contributing to stress. Take a few minutes to reorganize your desk (or table, or wherever you are), leaving just what you need on top.
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 .
Standing up for a quick stretch can relieve muscle tension and help us relax during a stressful workday . Why not try a shoulder roll-out or a chest-opening stretch right from the desk chair?
Run in Place
We may not be able to run away from stress, but it’s worth practicing. Try running in place for a few minutes to get those endorphins flowing. Even brief physical activity can help beat stress.
Take a Quick Walk
“Now walk it out, now walk [stress] out.” 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!
Entertainment and Creativity
Write It Down
“Dear Diary: Today I feel STRESSED.” Just putting our emotions on paper can make them seem less intimidating. Try journaling before a big exam and it just might improve your score .
Listen to Your Favorite Song
Beyonce, Blondie, or the Biebster, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If you’re in a public place (that isn’t the opera), just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood . Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
To the music! Research suggests people feel less anxious after a few months of modern dance, but if that’s not your style, five minutes of the funky chicken probably works, too . (At the very least, dancing’s a great form of cardio!)
Do a Crossword Puzzle
Number 10 across: Anxious, overwhelmed, or freaking out (seven letters). If you guessed “Stressed,” you’re in good shape to try some crossword puzzles. Brain games that require lots of concentration can help take our mind off whatever’s worrying us .
Smell Some Flowers
Really, stop and smell ’em. Certain odors can change our mood, and it’s hard to feel angry or upset with a nose full of roses . Keep a fresh jar of your favorite flowers near your workspace or in the living room, and take a whiff whenever anxiety strikes.
It takes just a minute to drip some lavender, tea tree, or another essential oil into your palm and inhale. The soothing scents may help send stress and anxiety packing by stimulating smell receptors in the nose that connect to the part of the brain that regulates emotions .
Orange you glad you’re not stressed? The smell of citrus can help us relax by increasing levels of the stress-related hormone norepinephrine.
Socializing and Fun
Cuddle With a Pet
A boyfriend or girlfriend is okay, but they’re (usually) not furry enough. After a rough day, snuggle up with a pet for an instant slobbery smile, since pets can boost self-esteem and even ease the sting of social rejection .
Stressed? Me? Ha! Laughter’s 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. Keep a book of jokes handy in the desk drawer or check out a hilarious YouTube video (maybe a piano-playing pug?) for a quick pick-me-up.
Talk to a Friend
When something’s really bothering you, it can help to share your feelings with a pal. In fact, more talkative folks tend to be happier in general . So vent to a coworker or call a close family member and spill.
Start Planning a Vacation
Crashing waves, warm sand, a gentle breeze ruffling your hair. Well, at least the image is nice. Take a break from work and start browsing the web for some future vacation spots. Sometimes the whole fun of a trip is in the planning, anyway .