Your inbox just loaded with several emails marked urgent, you’ve a project deadline by EOD, and your mom just called to find out if chicken is gluten-free. It would be an understatement to say your nerves might be a little jangled.
Before you go all Jessie Spano, a few minutes might be all you need to chill and regain your focus.
We’ve rounded up 40 ways to relax and relieve stress, fast.
1. Get your green tea on
This herbal tonic gives you the benefits of L-Theanine, a chemical that can help reduce the body’s stress responses Trusted Source. Plus just staring at a mug of the green liquid on your desk might calm you, too, thanks to the earthy color’s ability to soothe Trusted Source.
2. Chillax with some chocolate
When you need a quick break, break off a square of dark chocolate to boost your brain health and reduce stress Trusted Source. As an added bonus, dark chocolate is lower in sugar than milk chocolate, but it hits the sweet tooth sweet spot.
3. Help yourself to a little honey
The amber elixir from our buzzy friends may help relieve anxiety, fight off depression, and even protect the brain Trusted Source.
Drizzle honey in your tea, coffee, yogurt, or just go straight for the jar with a spoon. The sweet stuff also works for a quick energy boost.
4. Go tropical
Take a five-minute break to peel, slice, and bite into a juicy mango. Weird fact: Mangos contain a compound called linalool, the main ingredient in lavender essential oil. And you know what lavender does — ahhhhh. It may reduce stress and anxiety Trusted Source.
5. Chomp some chewing gum
Maybe you’re stuck in annoying traffic, frantically cleaning the house before your in-laws show, or hammering out that final term paper. Chewing gum is an easy way to keep the stress monster at bay while potentially boosting your mood and productivity Trusted Source.
6. Crunch and munch
Instead of clenching your jaw, may as well put it to work. Trail mix, an apple, or some celery sticks provide a satisfying crunch to curb your spiral.
No need to go on a week-long silent retreat with zen-looking yogis to snag some serenity. It doesn’t require completely clearing your mind, either. You can meditate in as little as one minute with visualization techniques. Give it a go before that meeting where you know Gretchen’s going to get on your nerves.
8. Get your head below your heart
Put your head between your knees, or stand and hang your head and arms toward your toes. Getting your noggin below your heart has restorative effects on the autonomic nervous system (ANS), lessening your reactivity to the fight-or-flight response Trusted Source.
9. Connect with your breath
You’re probably already breathing — unless you’re holding your breath. We tend do that when we’re in a tizzy. Whether you’re holding in your air, taking shallow sips of it, or hyperventilating, you might be adding to the stress response in your body.
The good news is that taking slow, full breaths can calm you. Try a quick breathing exercise to get back to a more relaxed state.
10. Give yourself a squeeze
You know how your cat will go all rigid for a second, tensing all those kitty muscles and then relaxing them? That looks kind of good, right? Well, you can try it too — or a version of it anyway.
Progressive relaxation involves tensing and releasing muscles, body part by body part. You may not have time to do your whole frame in five minutes, but just arms, shoulders, neck, and head will suffice.
11. Say your ABC’s backward
Nope, it’s not an IQ test, but it is a strangely reliable way to chill. Saying the alphabet in reverse temporarily shifts your focus from worrying about your upcoming date or pending performance review. It’s fine to play tricks on yourself once in a while. Counting backward can also do the trick.
12. Visualize what you want or need
Creative visualization is a mindfulness exercise developed by Shakti Gawain in her book Creative Visualization. The technique involves mentally imagining what you want to happen in your life, or how you want to feel. It can slay stress fast.
13. Close your peepers
A little darkness behind your lids can help shut out the external factors causing you trouble. Stressors may look a little different when you open your eyes, ready to face the world again.
14. Massage your hands
Rather than wringing your hands with worry, treat them to a little TLC instead. Just a five-minute hand massage could help relieve anxiety, one study shows Trusted Source.
Rub your favorite cream into your palms. Massage each joint and the webbing between each finger. Clench and release your fists. Then flex your wrists. The stretch will help relieve tension from endlessly tapping at your keyboard or scrolling through your phone.
15. Try acupressure
When you’re already stressed, the last thing you might want is more pressure. But acupressure may help alleviate anxiety, according to a recent study Trusted Source.
Acupressure is like the non-poke-y version of acupuncture. It aims to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. Use your fingers to find the two divots where your neck muscles attach to your skull. Press firmly for 15 seconds to relieve neck tension.
16. Roll a tennis ball under your feet
Borrow Fido’s gross toy for just a minute, unless it’s got slobber on it. A lacrosse or golf ball will do the trick too. Gently roll the ball under your arches, stopping to apply more pressure when you find a tender spot.
17. Take your frustration out on a stress ball
It’s OK to be angry at times. Stress can bring on rage, and what’s important is how you deal with that fiery emotion. It might be tempting to throw your laptop out the nearest office window or lay on your horn in traffic, but squeezing a stress ball is a safer — and cheaper — option.
18. Splash cold water on your face
Head to the loo and turn on the cold tap. Cool your hands and face with H2O and dab some on your pulse points. Cold water has an energizing effect. But it can also calm you if you’re body temp is rising after a sticky convo with your partner or a beef with your boss.
19. Massage your scalp
Is your to-do list making you want to pull your hair out? Hair tugging is actually a massage therapy technique that can help reduce head tension and bring on relaxation. Pull your hair gently so that you feel the scalp lift slightly. Follow up with a light massage of the scalp.