Has your over-scheduled, go-go-go lifestyle left you feeling a little (or a lot) stressed? You’re not alone! To relax in a flash, try one of these time-tested tension tamers. From aromatherapy to easy breathing techniques, most of these remedies can be executed anywhere, with little to no special equipment required. Read on to see which of these seven best ways to relax in five minutes or less works for you!
Pet your dog. It’s hard to feel tense when you’re scratching your dog behind the ears. And there’s a good reason why! Research has shown that our blood pressure drops when we cuddle up with dogs, particularly if it’s a mutt we know and love. Getting up close and personal with your pets has also been shown to improve immune function and ease pain (or at least the perception of it).
Give yourself a hand (massage). Since most of us can’t afford to have a masseuse on-call, try a quick-fix DIY approach. Apply some lotion to your hands (this one is my favorite) and knead the base of the muscle under the thumb for an instant reduction in tension in your shoulders, neck and scalp, no appointment necessary. Not only is this one of the best ways to relax, but it’s also good for treating sea sickness!
Sniff some citrus. Citrus oil blends offer a myriad of uplifting effects on the mind, body and spirit. These include increased energy, improved concentration, reduced stress and improved mood. I adore NOW Essential Oils Cheer Up ButterCup Uplifting Blend ($13), a potent mix of bergamot orange, lime, grapefruit and lemon oils. I keep a bottle both at home and at my desk. When I’m feeling run-down, I rub a few drops in between my palms, cup them over my nose and mouth, close my eyes and breathe.
Drink a cup of tea. If the ritual of brewing a fresh cup of tea isn’t relaxing enough, remember that both green and black teas contain an amino acid called L-theanine, which influences the release and concentration of the feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. To avoid adding to your stress, be sure to choose a caffeine-free tea.
Take a hot shower or bath. There’s no denying that hot water relieves sore muscles and joints, reduces stress and tension, and promotes a fresh outlook on life. Bubble baths have always been considered one of the best ways to relax. Add a pampering element like a luscious shower gel or bath truffle to boost the relaxation factor.
Just breathe. Yogis already know that controlled breathing helps keep the mind and body functioning together, but studies have also proven that concentrating on syncing up our breath can lower blood pressure, increase awareness and promote feelings of calm. I mean, have you ever seen a panicked yogi? To de-stress in a flash, try a practice called equal breathing. Just inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four—all through the nose—and feel your worries slip away.
Engage in repetitive motion. Letting go of tension through progressive muscular relaxation doesn’t require a fitness coach, yoga mat or marathon training schedule. Time-honored activities like knitting, crocheting, playing a musical instrument or even–wait for it–doing the dishes, can trigger deep relaxation thanks to soothing repetitive motion. If you only have five minutes, try sitting in a relaxed position, eyes closed, and repeat a word or sound (“om,” “peace,” and “love” are all good options) as you breathe.
Before you shop: Need another way to relax fast? Then treat yourself! A better you is better for everyone else around you as well. A great way to treat yourself is to enter our SuperheroMom Giveaway to win a daily prize of $100 or one of our grand prizes.
Editor by day and the voice of High Plains Thrifter by night, Meghan McAndrews is known for her weekly nacho night get-togethers and ongoing commitment to bringing big hair back. In her free time, she can be found scouring church-basement rummage sales, cooking in her kitchen or daubing it up at the bingo hall.