Stress affects us all, be it work, home or the streets between them. The question is: how does one deal with it? If it’s a chronic problem, then a vacation to a tropical beach could fix it. But the real deal is when you have to calm down within the next few minutes because you have an important meeting or a crucial discussion lined up. If this sounds like your case, then don’t fret, because we’ve got your back. Here’s a round-up of 30+ ways to help you calm down in 5 minutes or less.
1. Green Tea
We all have heard the countless benefits of drinking green tea, and guess what? They are all true! Green tea has a high concentration of molecules called polyphenols that help alleviate stress and lift up one’s mood. Add to that the feeling of some nice, hot tea slipping down your throat, and you have got yourself a strong stress buster to help you calm down.
Chocolate is also considered as a significant mood booster, which probably explains why all age groups love this delicious sweet treat. And by chocolate, we mean dark chocolate. In fact, the darker the chocolate, the healthier it is. Dark chocolate comes packed with the goodness of antioxidants which are known to relieve stress. So, go ahead and indulge in that bar of dark chocolate. Fair warning though: the effects only last about half an hour.
3. Crunchy Snacks
Be it potato chips, French fries, candy bars or popcorn, crunchy snacks are quite addictive because they make us feel good. So dip into that bag of crisps and munch away; but not too much though. Just enough to get past whatever is bugging you at that moment. Make sure you do not fall prey to emotional eating.
4. Chewing Gum
Chewing gum has no nutritive value per se, but the act of constantly chewing and rolling it around your mouth has been shown to decrease levels of stress and anxiety hormones like cortisol. Also, it makes you look cool. But just to be safe, try not to chew gum in front of your boss.
The benefits of meditation have been proven over time, and it really is a good way to calm down your stressed nerves. And you do not have to embark on a journey to distant mountains to practice it. All you have to do is find a quiet and comfortable place right at your workplace and meditate peacefully, at least two times every day. Getting in tune with your inner self is one of the ideal ways to combat stress and anxiety, and is also beneficial in the long run.
6. Focused Breathing
If meditating is not exactly your cup of tea, then why not just focus on your breathing. Stressed individuals tend to huff and puff all the time, so it is always a good idea to stop and breathe in and out every now and then. You can also try pranayama breathing, which is breathing through each nostril individually. Another good method is the 4-7-8 technique, where you inhale gently for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, exhale for a count of eight, and repeat this cycle three more times. This will help you achieve a balance between mind and body.
7. Close Your Eyes
This is the simplest of all methods that can enable you to calm down: just close your eyes and lean back in your chair. Spend at least five minutes in that position. Now just focus on the task at hand. Ignore all the troubles plaguing you. Ignore all the noise and clutter outside. You will find yourself becoming calmer and more sedate.
8. Count Backwards
A little exercise for your brain cells, counting backwards will help you focus on the numbers rather than the stress. You can also make it even more challenging by counting down in multiples of a certain number, say 7 or 17, just to keep things engaging and interesting. Soon you will be more impressed with your cerebral skills rather than concerned with your anxieties.
9. Stress Ball
At times, we tend to channel our stress outwardly towards a co-worker or a family member. It is during times like these that a stress ball can come in handy (no pun intended!). The soft, squishy ball can be squeezed and tormented as much as you want, as it absorbs all the stress out from you, leaving you refreshed. And you can also enjoy a game of catch with it if you like. What a fun way to calm down, right?
Though stress is a psychological factor, it can also take a toll on your body. From a sore neck to backache, joint pain and headache, these are all common symptoms associated with stress. In order to alleviate this, consider giving yourself a gentle massage. Or you can even ask a friend or family member to give you one (which you will probably have to reciprocate for them sometime later). The soothing effects of a massage can do wonders to your mood.
11. Personal Grooming
Everyone is concerned about their appearance, at varying levels of course. And especially in a stressed work environment, more often than not, neatness goes for a toss. So why not take a trip to the restroom and fix your look. This will take your mind off work and keep you prim and proper.
12. Lie Down
When all else fails, just push that keyboard aside and lay your head on the desk. Just lie there for a while, and try to give your eyes, your hands and your mind some much-needed rest from all the anxiety. It will surely help you relax and calm down.
13. Cold Water
A quick splash of ice cold water on your face may be exactly what you need. This will activate all the nerves on your face, thus leading to a refreshing and rejuvenated state of mind. Alternatively, you could apply cold water to your wrists or behind your earlobes. These regions have a large number of blood capillaries and can help you calm down quickly.
14. Alone Time
Try to find an isolated and quiet room or space somewhere. And just sit there, maybe with a cup of tea or coffee, and just try to ignore the stress in your life. Concentrate your thoughts on what needs to be done and solutions to combat your problems. The alone time will give you an opportunity to refocus your efforts and collect your ideas.
14. Clutter-free Zone
A clear desk is a sign of a clear mind. So keep your desk and your drawers clear and devoid of any clutter. Ensure that the lighting is good and that you receive fresh air regularly from a nearby window. This also contributes to the aesthetic appeal of your workplace and can help you calm down by relaxing your senses and soothing your mind.
15. Out In the Sun
Sunlight has numerous benefits, with Vitamin D being one of them. Whenever you feel bogged down and stressed, just walk outside and breathe in the fresh air. Let the sun shine on your skin and let the warmth pervade all that is bothering you. Sunlight also suppresses hormones that induce sleep, thus making you more wakeful and aware.
Consider taking a short break when things start getting tiring and hectic. Go to a nearby window and observe the city- the vehicles on the roads, the pedestrians on the pavement, the order amongst the chaos. This distraction can prove useful as it will take your mind off work and help you calm down.
Smell is a potent mood changer. So make sure you have some flowers next to your desk all the time. Oh, and we do not mean the fake plastic ones. Fresh flowers have an uplifting aroma that will definitely put you in a good mood.
Sitting for long hours in front of your computer can be extremely tiresome, for both the mind and the body. So every once in a while, get up from your desk and stretch those muscles. If space is a problem, then you can stretch whilst being seated as well. Just make sure you don’t accidentally hit someone who happens to be passing by.
If your workspace is both spacious and isolated, squeeze in some time in-between your meetings and channel your inner yogi. Make sure you carry your yoga mat and workout gear. Just a few basic poses are more than enough to help you calm down and forget the anxiety that has been haunting you.
If you want to practice something a bit more strenuous than yoga, then try jogging around the compound of your office? Besides, you can also head to the nearby park or activity centre for a quick run. Physical activities like jogging will boost the level of endorphin in your brain, thus helping you calm your nerves.
A quick walk around your office can boost up your work spirit, especially if you’re someone who gets stimulated by competition. If your workspace is not so huge, you could consider walking up and down the stairs. Brew some coffee while you’re at it.
Misplaced office documents, missing files, an empty roll of tape, all of these could be possible causes of work-related stress. So take out a few minutes to organize your workplace and infuse that energy into your work. Arrange all your stationery, files and electronic items in an easy-to-access, clutter-free manner.
23. Distract Yourself
Taking small breaks at work always helps beat the stress and stay collected. Whether it ishumorous humourous videos, gossiping with friends, reading the newspaper or indulging in some other hobby, make sure that this break time is super re-inforcing.
24. Note It Down
Writing down what exactly is troubling you is a great way to begin with. Firstly, putting your problems on paper makes them more tangible, rather than battling them as some demons in your head. Moreover, it can serve as a reference point to come back to whenever you feel stressed again in the future because of the same problems.
Create your “Happy Playlist” and tune in to it everytime the shit goes down. And do not just listen to it, hum along to it, move your hands and legs rhythmically, and if you have your own room, then you can even sing out loud. It will make you feel energetic and nostalgic and relaxed, all at the same time.
Who does not love their fluffy four-pawed pals? And the great news is, they love you back more than you’ll ever know. Cuddling with pets significantly increases endorphin levels in the brain and infuses a positive and enthusiastic energy in you. If your workplace does not allow pets, then try to get a stuffed toy to mimic the effects.
28. Have A Good Laugh
Laughter is the best medicine, and this is especially true for the stressed and the anxious. Laughter alters the state of your brain to a more cheerful disposition, so make sure you hang around the perennial jokester of the group. Or you can watch comedy routines and funny videos online. As long as you have a good laugh, you can overcome anything.
29. Moral Support
When stress becomes extremely overwhelming and too much to handle, you can always turn to your loved ones for support. Family and friends are always there to care for you, and just talking to them about the things that are bothering you will make you feel that the whole burden has been lifted. Always keep such ride-or-die people close.
30. Plan a Trip
If you think you need a much-deserved break after all the stress that has been bugging you, then why not spend a few times browsing for potential holiday destinations. Now, whether you actually go on the trip or not is an open question, but just having something relaxing and exciting to look forward to can help you calm down and make you more positive in approach.
31. Creative Visualization
Visualizing something positive or exciting is a great way of elevating your mood, especially on a stressful day at work. Creativity and imagination can program your subconscious mind to ignore the outside sources of stress and anxiety and remain positive through the toughest of times. Whether you visualize travelling to your favourite destination, getting pampered by the beach or earning a million dollars, all you have to do is close your eyes, and let your imagination run wild.
Well, there you have it. There are numerous ways by which you can beat stress within a short span of time. Not all the ways will work for everyone, so you just have to find which one suits you and your workplace or home best. So, if you want to calm down and relax even in the face of impending doom (i.e. that appraisal meeting with your boss or a confrontation with your partner), all you have to do is follow one or more of our tips. Relaxation is guaranteed!