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22 Ways to Relax in 5 Minutes or Less

Food and Drink

Sip Green Tea: Instead of turning purple with rage, get green with a cup of herbal tea. Green tea is a source of L-Theanine, a chemical that helps relieve anger. Boil the water, pour it out, and take a soothing sip — there’s probably still a minute to spare.

Nosh on Chocolate: A carton of chocolate ice cream is no stranger to stress relief, but just a square (about 1.4 ounces) of the sweet stuff can also calm your nerves. Dark chocolate regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stabilizes metabolism.

Slurp Some Honey: Replace stress with sweetness and try a spoonful of honey. Besides being a natural skin moisturizer and antibiotic, honey also provides compounds that reduce inflammation in the brain, meaning it fights depression and anxiety.

Bite Into a Mango: Take a tropical vacation without leaving the desk chair. Use a five-minute break to peel, slice, and bite into a juicy mango, which packs a compound called linalool that helps lower stress levels. Don’t fret about the juice dripping down your chin — the stress relief is worth the mess.

Chew Gum: Minty, fruity, or bubble-gum flavor, a stick of gum is a surprisingly quick and easy way to beat stress. Just a few minutes of chewing can actually reduce anxietyand lower cortisol levels.

Munch a Crunchy Snack: Sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than munching away on a candy bar when we’re stressed — one study found stressed adults craved crunchy and salty snacks more than usual. But that salty crunch doesn’t have to be so sugary — a handful of trail mix or a bag of celery sticks work just as well.

Inner Peace

Lay Your Head On a Cushion or Pillow: There are days when all we really need is a nice, long nap. But it’s not always possible to start snoring in the middle of the office. If you’ve got a pillow, you’re already on the road to relaxation. Try this visualization technique: Lay your head down for a few minutes and imagine the pillow is a sponge sucking up all your worries.

Meditate: No need to go on a retreat to the mountains — five minutes of peace is all it takes to reap the benefits of meditation. There’s evidence that just two quick bouts of silent meditation per day can relieve stress and depression. So find a comfortable spot in a quiet place, concentrate on your breath, and feel those anxieties start to disappear.

Remember to Breathe: Is there any simpler way to relax? Slow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. For the fancy noses out there, try pranayama breathing, a yogic method that involves breathing through one nostril at a time to relieve anxiety. The technique’s supposed to work the same way as acupuncture, balancing the mind and body (and possibly eliminating the need for a tissue).

Try Progressive Relaxation: Anxious? Just squeeze, release, and repeat. Progressive relaxation involves tensing the muscles in one body part at a time to achieve a state of calm. The method (also used by actors) is a great way to help fall asleep.

Count Backward: Nope, it’s not an IQ test, but it is a way to relax. When worries arerunning rampant, try slowly counting to 10 and then back again to calm down. It’s harder to freak about an upcoming date or job interview when you’re busy remembering what number comes before seven. (Hey, kindergarten was a long time ago.)

Use Creative Visualization: The doorbell rings. It’s Ryan Gosling, and he wants to know if you’ll marry him. “Yes!” you shout and then — sorry, time’s up. These little daydreams, also known as “creative visualization,” involve thinking of something that makes us feel happy. It’s an instant mood boost on hectic days when we’re feeling tense.

Close Your Eyes: James Taylor said it: You can close your eyes, it’s all right. Take a quick break from a busy office or a chaotic household by just lowering your eyelids. It’s an easy way to regain calm and focus.

Total Body Relaxation

Give Yourself a Hand Massage: When there’s no professional masseuse in sight, try DIYing a hand massage for instant relaxation that calms a pounding heart.  Massagescan be especially helpful for people who spend a lot of time typing on a keyboard. Hands in general can carry a lot of tension. Apply some luxurious lotion and start kneading the base of the muscle under the thumb to relieve stress in the shoulders, neck, and scalp.

Try Acupressure: Pressure to meet a deadline can be stressful, but acupressure can help release all that tension. Acupressure’s a kind of touch therapy that works by balancing the circulation of fluids and energies in the body. Use the thumb and forefinger to massage the soft area between the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Dab on some lavender oil for extra relaxation.

Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball: Leave the clubs at home and just bring the ball. You can get an impromptu relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.

Squeeze a Stress Ball: On days when you want to strangle a coworker, your BFF, or the driver in the next lane, squeeze a stress ball instead. It’s an easy, portable, and non-violent way to relieve tension.

Drip Cold Water On Your Wrists: Pass on the perfume and go with water. When stress hits, head for the bathroom and drop some cold water on your wrists and behind your earlobes. There are major arteries right underneath the skin, so cooling these areas can help calm the whole body.

Brush Your Hair: Really, it looks like a rat’s nest. Even if you’ve already done your 100 strokes for the day, repetitive motions like running a brush through your hair can cause the body to relax.

New Environment

Be Alone: 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.