Check your stress at the door with these quick tips
Need some stress relief now? Here are 20 surprisingly simple—and super-fast—ways to reset your mood. Each one can help you feel more calm and centered in a minute or less.
20 quick tension tamers
- Take some slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose for four counts. Hold for one beat. Then exhale through your mouth for four counts.
- Put little worries in perspective. Ask yourself, “Will this still matter in a month? In a year?”
- Try a quick shadow-boxing session—jab, cross, hook and uppercut your stress away.
- Sing, hum or whistle an upbeat tune.
- Look at a photo that makes you smile. It could be anything—the latest snap of the grandkids, a close-up of a caterpillar or a work of art you love.
- Bite into a perfectly ripe pear, and savor its sweetness.
- Play with texture. Squeeze a rubbery stress ball, or rub a smooth stone.
- Do three quick stretches: Roll your head and neck in a few gentle circles. Reach your arms toward the ceiling, and bend slowly from side to side. Then stretch your legs in front of you, and flex your feet back and forth at the ankle.
- Close your eyes and picture yourself in a peaceful spot—sitting by a mountain stream, maybe, or relaxing in a treehouse. Imagine what each of your senses would experience.
- Worried by a thought that won’t let up? Jot it down. Then put it away and tell yourself you’ll come back to it later.
- Pet a dog or a cat. Notice how the feel of the fur changes in different spots.
- Tense a group of muscles, hold it for a few seconds and then completely relax. Start at your feet, and work your way up your body.
- Laugh! Find a funny cartoon or a silly knock-knock joke to make you giggle.
- Think of three things you’re grateful for right now—big or small.
- Brush something soft against your skin. Try a feather, a blanket or a scarf.
- Light a scented candle or pour a fresh cup of coffee—and breathe in the aroma.
- Hold something that brings back good memories—maybe a stuffed animal, a family memento or a souvenir from a favorite vacation.
- Give yourself a mini face massage. Rub your fingers in tiny circles across your forehead, cheeks and neck.
- Do something nice for someone else. Bring a coworker a cup of tea, compliment a friend or open a door for a stranger.
- Smile—an ear-to-ear grin can help lower your heart rate and lift your mood.
What’s your stress profile?
Do you know how stress affects your body, mind and behavior? You might be surprised. Use this checklist to get to know your stress response.