Stress Management: The Best Ways to Relax in 5 Minutes or Less

There are plenty of healthy lifestyle changes recommended for stress relief. Practicing meditation decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, for example. Certain foods can help you stave off stress and anxiety as well. No matter what works for you, the most effective stress-busting activities will also be good for your diet, sleep, energy, immune system, and overall health. But it’s a reality of modern life that all sorts of challenges crop up on a daily basis, so people need both long-term and short-term solutions.

If you practice one of these activities, you can restore feelings of calmness in just minutes.

1. Have a cup of tea

Cup of tea with lemon

Try sipping tea for stress relief. | iStock.com

They say a cup of tea solves everything, and for some people, there is some truth to the cliché. There are lots of calming herbal tea varieties, like chamomile, to choose from. Some say the ritual of brewing the tea can be as relaxing as the hot tea itself, and one study finds drinking tea can reduce cortisol levels. A simple cup of warm water with lemon has health and relaxation benefits, so don’t discount taking a tea break next time you are stressed out.

2. Listen to music

Man relaxing and listening to music

Listen to tunes to reduce stress. | iStock.com

Turning on some soothing classical music might be one of the fastest ways to change your mindset and calm your nerves. It can even lower your blood pressure and heart rate. With remarkable power to transform your mood, music and singing can help you let off steam or remind you of a joyful memory. Choose whatever song or genre you think will be most healing for you in the moment. Music therapy is recognized as an effective mental health treatment, so turning on the right tune will help you change your outlook fast.

3. Go outside

A park on a sunny day

Going to the park will make you feel better. | iStock.com

A simple change of scenery is more powerful than you might think. Even if you only have a few minutes, take a quick stroll outdoors if workplace stressors are getting to you. Sunlight, fresh air, and a little movement go a long way. If you can take a break in a more natural setting the benefits will be that much greater. But no matter where you are, change your perspective and do a few quick exercises or stretches to reset your body and mind to take on the day’s next challenge with calmness.

4. Take deep breaths

Man relaxing outside on some grass

Take some time to slow down. | iStock.com

There’s a reason why so many people will tell you to take deep breaths when you need to relax. Though we tend to forget about this strategy, it really works. And you won’t need to move from where you are at the time when the stress hits you. Just close your eyes, put your hand on your belly, and focus on your breath. When you are stressed your breathing turns shallow, so if you slow down and deepen each inhale and exhale, you can lower your stress level as well as your heart rate.

5. Practice an inversion

Man putting his feet against a wall

Even putting your feet up can help with stress relief. | iStock.com

Yoga is one of the best exercises for stress relief, and you don’t need to do an hour-long routine to reap the benefits. Inversions are among the most celebrated yoga poses for reducing stress. If you aren’t an avid yogi who does headstands regularly, don’t worry. Legs-up-the-wall pose, or Viparita Karani, is one that everyone can do. This passive pose calms anxiety and relieves headaches and backaches. It’s also great for blood circulation. When stress has you down, find a wall and take a few minutes to breathe with this classic asana.