We all have those days — the ones when everything seems to be going wrong. The days when traffic is awful, work is piling up, and we just need a few simple ways to relax in five minutes or less before we can face the rest of the day. It's normal, and for better or worse, we've all been there.
And taking a few minutes out of the day to calm ourselves and recenter can be incredibly important for our overall feeling of balance. In an article on relaxation for Psych Central, life coach and retreat leader Rachel W. Cole said that she always makes sure she tends to herself when she's feeling overwhelmed, "Tending brings calm, order, and a deep reminder that I’m cared for and safe," she said. Self-care is incredibly important. And the times that we're feeling the most stressed are often the times when we spend the least time taking care of ourselves, which is the exact opposite of how it should probably be.
If you often feel overwhelmed at work or at home, or even just have a super busy week coming up, it's important to have the tools and techniques to help you relax to get you through. And because I've definitely been there myself, I've compiled a list of seven ways to help you relax almost instantly that can help to quickly alleviate feelings of stress.
1. Breathing Exercises
According to holistic medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil, breathing is one of the fastest and most effective ways to calm your system and reduce stressful feelings. He advocates the 4-7-8 breathing technique on his website, in which you breath in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and breath out for eight.
2. Watch A Relaxation Video
YouTube is full of super helpful guided relaxation videos that can help calm you down within just a few minutes. Also, if you're someone who is calmed by soothing sounds and soft voices, you can also check out one of YouTube's many ASMR videos to help soothe you during a stressful moment.
3. Drink A Cup Of Green Tea
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea consumption was linked to lower psychological distress, indicating that it has definite calming effects. A study published by the National Institute of Health also links hot beverages with caffeine to an almost instant mood improvement.
4. Light A Scented Candle
A 2009 study published on PubMed.org found that teens who received aromatherapy were significantly less stressed than those who received a placebo, indicating that it could be a very effective treatment for stress management. Additionally, according to the National Institute of Health, aromatherapy is even used to help cancer patients, based on the theory that certain scents can have an impact on the brain's emotional center and provide sedative effects. So always keep your favorite relaxing scent on hand for when you're having one of those days.
Pearberry 8 0x Mason Jar Soy Blend Candle, $9, Etsy.com
5. Give Yourself A Massage
In an article on MassageTherapy.com, Mary Atkinson, author of A Practical Guide to Self-Massage, said that, "A simple five-minute hand-and-foot massage can lower blood pressure and heart rate and reduce feelings of panic," and that self-massage can go a long way in reducing the "cumulative effects of stress" throughout the day. Don't hesitate to spend a little time on yourself for this when you need to relax.
6. Organize Your Space
As I mentioned in a piece on how to improve your mood in less than five minutes, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine Aron, Ph.D., said that "clutter is a reminder of things that should be getting done, but aren't," and that, "just the illusion of order is enough to ease the mind," She recommended just putting things into neater stacks and piles for an instant feel a little better and more in control.
7. Wash Your Face and Brush Your Teeth
In an article on Psych Central, professional life coach Natasha Lindor recommended brushing your teeth and washing your face to help you instantly relax and calm down. “By connecting to something that is part of your ‘start the day’ routine, you give your brain signals that you’re starting fresh," she said.A stressful moment or situation doesn't have to consume your whole day or leave you off-balance for hours. Take some time to tend to yourself and try some of these super easy, super fast techniques to feel better almost instantly.
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