- Five Ways to Chill Out in Five Minutes
- 40 Ways to Chill Out in Five Minutes or Less
- How can you possibly even think about relaxing when you barely have room in your head -or your schedule- to think anymore at all?
- We’ve gathered the 40 best ways to relax in five minutes or fewer. This way, you can build relaxation into your day every day…no matter how busy you are.
- 1. Plan a vacation.
- 2. Chat with a friend.
- 3. Laugh.
- 4. Cuddle up with your pet.
- 5. Inhale the scent of coffee.
- 6. Get a whiff of citrus.
- 7. Have you tried aromatherapy?
- 8. Stop and smell the flowers.
- 9. Complete a crossword puzzle.
- 10. Get up and dance!
- 11. Listen to your favorite song.
- 12. Write it out.
- 13. Take a quick walk.
- 14. Run in place or, do any medium- to high-intensity cardio for a few minutes.
- 15. Take a few minutes to stretch.
- 16. Get into an asana or two.
- 17. Organize yourself.
- 18. Head for the window.
- 19. Light therapy has been used for treatment of depression for decades.
- 20. Make an area you can go to for a few minutes as needed to get away from it all.
- 21. Enjoy alone time.
- 22. Brush your hair.
- 23. Place your wrists under cold running water.
- 24. Give the old stress ball a squeeze.
- 25. Give yourself a foot massage.
- 26. Try a little acupressure.
- 27. Give yourself a hand massage.
- 28. Lower your eyelids.
- 29. Get creative!
- 30. Count to ten.
- 31. Give progressive relaxation a try.
- 32. Remember that breathing thing?
- 33. Turn your pillow into a stress-sucking sponge.
- 34. Try meditating.
- 35. Eat a crunchy snack.
- 36. Chew on some gum.
- 37. Eat a mango.
- 38. Eat some honey.
- 39. Eat some chocolate.
- 40. Sip on some green tea.
- We’ve gathered the 40 best ways to relax in five minutes or fewer. This way, you can build relaxation into your day every day…no matter how busy you are.
- Here are 7 signs you need to chill out:
- 101 Ultimate Ways to Chill Out and Reduce Stress
- TAKE NOTES …
- Breathe This Way
- Take a Break From Your Devices
- Clench, Then Release
- Get Together With a Buddy
- Spend Time in Nature
Five Ways to Chill Out in Five Minutes
Sometimes we can find ourselves in pretty stressful situations. Whether you are just about to do a presentation, or take a final exam, we’ve got some tips on how to calm down quick!
1. Put your hands in the air (like you don’t care!)
Yes – having your arms in this position can chill you out. Get your omm on and relax!
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart
- Roll your shoulders back
- Extend the arms forward and lift up to the ceiling
- Straighten elbows, wrists and fingers
- Relax neck and shoulders
- Keep your head straight and look forward
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
2. Write it out
Get all your worries out of your head and onto paper. It can help to write down your worries and get them out of your head, so you have more room in there for the things you need to focus on or remember.
3. Have a laugh
Laughter can help get rid of stress, so why not bookmark some of your favourite silly YouTube clips to watch whenever you need, or keep a joke book in your bag and laugh away.
4. Take a breather
Try some of our breathing exercises or check out this abdominal breathing technique to get you feeling chilled out
- Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest, right over the breastbone
- Open your mouth and gently sigh, and as you let your shoulders and the muscles of your upper body relax down with the exhale. It’s all about relaxing the muscles of your upper body.
- Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose by pushing your stomach out. Inhale as much air as you comfortably can.
- Open your mouth. Exhale through your mouth by pulling your belly in.
5. Listen to music
Putting on some of your favourite tunes that make you happy can help you de-stress. Music can remind you of fun times or can act as a distraction to your worries, so put on some upbeat tunes (or songs you know every word to) to help you get rid of stressful thoughts. Why not check out our #YSSpotify playlist for some new tunes every month.
Why not have a look at our six ways to take a mind vacation for other hints and tips to help?
40 Ways to Chill Out in Five Minutes or Less
We know: you’re busy. Your inbox is into quintuple digits, you do the carpool scramble from school to karate or piano or soccer or champion Lego building, you cook and clean and just simply never seem to have enough time to catch up.
How can you possibly even think about relaxing when you barely have room in your head -or your schedule- to think anymore at all?
Take a deep breath, friends (we’ll talk more about that in a moment here).
We’ve gathered the 40 best ways to relax in five minutes or fewer. This way, you can build relaxation into your day every day…no matter how busy you are.
1. Plan a vacation.
You don’t have to have any dates fixed for it yet, but plan it as though you do. You may not be able to relax on the beach today, but preparing to do so calms your mind and lifts your spirits.
2. Chat with a friend.
Mounting evidence shows that people who are more talkative are happier than those who are not. Enlist a friend to give you five minutes of ranting time…and be sure to repay the favor another time.
Laughter is often called the best medicine and in the case of helping you relax or reduce stress it’s actually entirely true. Check out a funny YouTube video, tell a terrible joke to a friend -whatever gets you going! You’ll be more relaxed in mere moments.
4. Cuddle up with your pet.
Your SO is a good second, but when it comes to cuddling to relax and reduce tension, animals take the cake.
5. Inhale the scent of coffee.
As a great balancing sensation and subtle pick-me-up, the aroma of a cuppa will calm your frazzled nerves. No sipping required.
6. Get a whiff of citrus.
Just smelling orange, lemon or grapefruit aromas can calm your frazzled brain.
7. Have you tried aromatherapy?
This practice of relieving stress by inhaling the scents of different essential oils is highly touted by its practitioners, as different scents affect different emotional triggers in the brain.
8. Stop and smell the flowers.
Really, it’s hard to hang onto tension and stress when you’ve got a nose full of sweet floral scents. Keeping a jar or vase of your favorite flowers near your workspace can enliven your days and help bust stress!
9. Complete a crossword puzzle.
Brain games distract us from what we’re ruminating over or stressing out about by taking our minds away from these thoughts.
10. Get up and dance!
Moving your body + listening to music you love = an endorphin boost to de-stress and a mental break from rumination.
11. Listen to your favorite song.
This gets the feel-good hormones pumping and de-stresses in just a few minutes.
12. Write it out.
Simply putting our thoughts down on paper is often enough to ease the anxiety and stress they are causing.
13. Take a quick walk.
It doesn’t have to be a long one, just enough to get you away from the place where all of your stress is contained.
14. Run in place or, do any medium- to high-intensity cardio for a few minutes.
It’ll get your blood pumping and your heart rate up, as well as boosting those stress-busting endorphin levels.
15. Take a few minutes to stretch.
Even while you’re sitting at your desk, you can still do some chest-opening and other helpful stretches to help ease stress as well as relax your body.
16. Get into an asana or two.
A regular yoga practice works wonders for relieving stress and everyday anxiety, but if you don’t have time, moving gently into an asana or two that you enjoy can help keep you mindfully tuned to your body and its needs.
17. Organize yourself.
Stacks of papers and mail, office supplies everywhere, overflowing inbox…all of these contribute to your stress at work. Take a few minutes to organize your workspace to make it more conducive to productivity. As for your inbox: check out one of these apps.
18. Head for the window.
When you need a few minutes away, don’t start playing with your smartphone. Head for a window and look outside. Observe the world quietly, and curiously. What would the air outside feel like on your skin just now? Is it hot or cold, dry or humid, just kind of middling? You’ll be amazed at how much more efficiently nature de-stresses you than anything with a screen.
19. Light therapy has been used for treatment of depression for decades.
Use this to help with your day-to-day stress by relaxing in the sun’s rays for a few minutes every day. Can’t find the sun? Use a high-intensity lamp that aids in the production of vitamin D.
20. Make an area you can go to for a few minutes as needed to get away from it all.
It can be anywhere, even a bathroom stall, if you can relax there for a few minutes to take your mind off of your stressors.
21. Enjoy alone time.
Learning to be by yourself and enjoy that time, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time, will reduce your anxiety and stress levels.
22. Brush your hair.
Really. Or knit, or fold laundry, or wash dishes. Activities that involve repetitive motion calm and soothe a stressed-out brain.
23. Place your wrists under cold running water.
The cool water will target the major arteries just below the skin and make you feel cooler, calmer, and less stressed. It’s a literal way to chill out.
24. Give the old stress ball a squeeze.
Sounds pretty low-tech, and for good reason: stress balls were CREATED to give us an outlet instead of taking a swing at our colleagues, BFF, SO, or whoever is causing your stress at the moment.
25. Give yourself a foot massage.
Keep it cheap and simple with a golf ball: you can even do it under your desk while working and nobody will be the wiser.
26. Try a little acupressure.
Acupressure might sound like it’s going to contribute to your stress rather than relieve it, but it’s really a system of light touches that encourages better communication between the fluids and energies in your body. You can give yourself a little acupressure by rubbing the soft, fleshy pad between the bases of your thumb and forefingers. Add a little essential oil for extra relief -try lavender, neroli or lemongrass.
27. Give yourself a hand massage.
One of the nicest things about a hand massage is you can actually give them to yourself without compromising the part getting the massage. Bonus: hand massages are especially nice if you type a lot for work.
28. Lower your eyelids.
No, seriously, there’s no faster, simpler way to remove yourself from reality than by simply closing your eyes for a few moments. Give yourself a few breaths to reset and then rejoin the world.
29. Get creative!
Visualization-wise, that is. This is otherwise known as daydreaming: take a few minutes to visualize something that makes you intensely happy, be it fantasy or reality.
30. Count to ten.
Counting slowly upward to ten and then back down to one is an extremely calming exercise. Maybe that’s the reason there’s a YouTube video dedicated to helping with this technique.
31. Give progressive relaxation a try.
Progressive relaxation teaches you to fully tense and then fully relax your muscles to help calm yourself (and help you sleep better, too!)
32. Remember that breathing thing?
It’s helpful. Taking slow, deep breaths can calm a racing mind and a racing heart. Pranayama breathing is super helpful, too.
33. Turn your pillow into a stress-sucking sponge.
Well, visually, anyway. Just the act of laying your head on a pillow can be calming, so rest your head on one and imagine it is sucking up all of your stress.
34. Try meditating.
All you need to meditate is yourself: you don’t need fancy retreats or anything like that. Meditation is just focusing on your breath. When your mind wanders, bring it back to breath. Practicing meditation daily is a known cure for stress and anxiety, and you can do it for five minutes or five days or more, whatever you’d like.
35. Eat a crunchy snack.
Sometimes the sensation of our teeth going through something really crunchy can help. That crunch can come from a candy bar or from a celery stick, so pick your stress-buster and get crunching!
36. Chew on some gum.
Chewing on fruity or minty gum has been shown to relieve stress and improve anxiety.
37. Eat a mango.
Take a five minute break to peel, slice and devour a mango. Tropical deliciousness aside, mangos contain a compound called linalool which is a known cortisol reducer.
38. Eat some honey.
Aside from its widely known properties as a skin beautifier and potent antibiotic, honey also contains compounds which help reduce inflammation in the brain.
39. Eat some chocolate.
Aside from the feel-good aspect of it, dark chocolate can regulate cortisol and metabolism, making it an awesome go-to to relieve stress and anxiety.
40. Sip on some green tea.
Green tea contains multiple potent compounds that are great for your health, including L-Theanine, which helps to reduce anger.
What do you think of these suggestions? Which are you going to try? Which did I miss adding to this list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
- Listen to music without distractions. (If you’re streaming, pick a playlist with no ads and only look at your device to change songs!)
- Walk around outside, taking time to actually check out the sights, sounds and smells of your neighborhood.
- Relax on your porch or patio, enjoy the night and people watch.
- Keep a paper journal, and respond to a different prompt each night. (Here are some ideas to get you started.)
- Prep food for a healthy breakfast you’ll be excited to wake up to like overnight oats or egg muffins.
- Pack a healthy lunch tonight and save $10 on a sub-par sandwich tomorrow.
- Buy a copy of a physical local newspaper on your way home from work. Sit in a comfy chair and read what’s going on in your town.
- Organize your sock drawer, KonMari style.
- Take a steaming hot shower with a few drops of soothing eucalyptus oil.
- Make a sleep-friendly snack, like popcorn. Bonus points if you skip the microwave bag.
- Call your friend instead of texting them. If it seems weird at first, all the more reason to do it.
- Start a giant jigsaw puzzle.
- Spend quality time with your pet. Pets provide proven relaxation and mood benefits.
- Paint a picture. If you don’t want to make a big investment, simple watercolors and sketch paper can do the job just fine.
- Try a paint or color-by-numbers book to zone out while working on your artistic side.
- Draw a comic strip about your day at work.
- Draw a self-portrait.
- Draw a self-portrait, blindfolded.
- Draw a portrait of your partner, friend, or kid.
- Draw a picture of your stress, then send it away.
- Visualize your happy place and sketch a picture.
- Practice calligraphy or improving your handwriting.
- Try making your own creative fonts.
- Knit something. Or embroider something. Or crochet.
- Pick up some flowers on your way home and rearrange them into an original bouquet.
- Be a tea connoisseur and make your own evening (caffeine free) nightcap blends. Natural foods stores often have loose teas and herbs available by the gram.
- Tell stories by flashlight or candlelight.
- Make a list of things you want to see before you die.
- Make a list of things that scare you. Try to figure out what they have in common.
- Make a list of 100 things that make you feel good.
- Do a crossword puzzle or a word search.
- Color in a detailed coloring book with crayons (there are even coloring books for adults now, and they are becoming quite trendy!).
- Play whisper down the lane with your kids (or your roommates).
- Build a fort together and camp out for the night.
- Start building a model airplane or car.
- Slow dance in the kitchen to oldies.
- Cuddle with your partner.
- Give your partner a massage.
- Write a letter with no intention of sending it.
- Write postcards to five friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, and definitely send them.
- Make a collage. Of places you’ve been, places you want to go, things you want to do, the latest fashions, beautiful recipes, or anything that piques your interest.
- Write a short story about someone you see but don’t actually know. (Paper notebook, please.)
- Make your five-year plan and lay out steps you need to take to get there.
- Give your mattress a good vacuuming, change your bedsheets, and spritz a calming scent in the air for a bed that screams “get in!”.
- Clean something you’ve been avoiding, like that hall closet or junk drawer.
- Write a list of things you’re grateful for. Higher levels of gratitude have been associated with better sleep.
- Listen to NPR.
- Listen to a sports game on AM radio.
- Listen to an audiobook or a podcast.
- Listen to binaural beats.
- Make a video journal of your day, and end it with positive affirmations.
- Make a mixtape of songs that make you feel blissful and tune in.
- Do a load of laundry. Because folding can be seriously relaxing.
- Lay out your outfit for the next day or week and get your ironing out of the way. It’s one less thing you have to worry about tomorrow.
- Look through an old photo album and try remember the faces, places, sounds, sights and smells of that moment.
- Stretch. Doing light yoga or deep stretching before bed can help reduce pain.
- Massage sore or tense spots with a foam roller or tennis ball.
- Try dry brushing or a full body sea mud mask to pamper your skin.
- Do a facial complete with steam, exfoliation, and a mask. Look forward to waking up gorgeous.
- Give yourself a manicure and pedicure.
- Take a nice, long bubble or epsom salt bath. Keep lights low and play calming sounds. A warm bath before bed helps encourage your body’s natural temperature drop that coincides with drowsiness.
- Teach your dog a new trick.
- Pick out a week’s worth of outfits so you’re not rushed in the morning.
- Recap your day. What were five things that made you happy?
- Recap your day. What was one thing that bummed you out or made you mad? Can you let it go?
- Recap your day. What’s one instance where you could have done better?
- Recap your day. What was the strangest/most interesting thing you saw?
- Recap your day. What was the most inspiring thing you saw?
- Recap your day. Without consulting social media, do you have any idea what you did on this day last year?
- Start learning a new language. Write several phrases on flashcards, and play memory until you’ve mastered the group.
- Write a letter to your sixteen-year-old self.
- Write a letter to your eighty-year-old self.
- Write a letter to your child or future child.
- Make overnight pizza dough and have pizza for dinner tomorrow night.
- Make a weird diorama using junk around your house.
- Make up a new bedtime song with your kids.
- Blow bubbles outside.
- Sit outside and listen to the crickets.
- Pretend it’s your job to come up with cool new names for every crayon in the crayon box.
- Learn how to fold origami cranes.
- Count your spare change. (Very boring, very meditative.) Bring it to the bank tomorrow and buy yourself something silly.
- Different constellations are best seen during different times of the year. Go outside and see which ones you can find.
- Or just stare at the sky and watch for shooting stars.
- Make your own yogurt.
- Make a friendship bracelet.
- Make a five-item time capsule, then stuff it in the back of your closet. Proceed to forget about it.
- Read a really old magazine or newspaper.
- Read a book of meditations.
- Read a book of poetry or practice your own haikus.
- Read a classic novel that you never got around to.
- Read a cookbook or cooking magazine and bookmark recipes that you want to make.
- Experiment with aromatherapy and pay attention to how your senses react to different smells and combinations.
- Lay in a comfy spot and practice deep breathing.
- Lay in a comfy spot and practice progressive muscle relaxation.
- Lay in a comfy spot and practice guided imagery.
- Try relaxing like a cat.
- Practice child’s pose or legs up the wall pose.
- Practice savasana.
- Write your worries on a piece of paper and burn it.
- Lay in bed with your partner and play 20 questions.
- Lay in bed and listen to white noise, rain, ocean waves or other relaxing sounds.
Unfortunately, most people feel an enormous amount of stress in today’s world, with mounting responsibilities and not enough time in the day to take care of them all. According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of working adults in America feel that they cannot manage their stress levels effectively. Not only does stress and anxiety take a toll on one’s mental health, but it can also make its presence known in the body.
The stress epidemic in this country, and all around the globe, seems to only keep growing as time wears on. Some people feel stressed the majority of the time, but don’t even realize it because they now run on an operating system of fear and anxiety. Because it seems normal to them now, they don’t recognize the warning signals that their body and mind need a break. If this sounds like you, read on for the most common warning signs of excess stress.
Here are 7 signs you need to chill out:
1. You have nightmares often.
Having an occasional nightmare is a normal part of being human; however, having bad dreams most nights of the week can signal a serious imbalance in your nervous system. Some people believe that our dreams mirror our dominant thoughts in our every day lives, so if your dreams consist of mostly darkness and negativity, this means that your thought processes need some tending to. Stress presents itself in our lives in a variety of ways, but most people don’t think about stress interfering with our dreams.
Nightmares can wake us up in the middle of the night, making it difficult to go back to sleep. Try to spend some time each day in meditation or some other form of relaxation to counteract excess stress. This will help you have a more restful night’s sleep.
2. You have trouble falling asleep at night.
Even if you don’t have nightmares, you might just have a lot of difficulty getting to sleep at night. Maybe you lie awake for hours, thinking about all the bills you have to pay or the speech you have to give for school or why and how the universe came about and what we have to do with it all. It seems many people’s brains become most active at night, maybe because they can finally have some alone time with their thoughts after a long day of work or school.
However, if your thoughts inhibit your sleep too often, the lack of sufficient rest can take a serious toll on your health.
3. Your mind constantly feels clouded and foggy.
Brain fog occurs when we don’t give our minds the rest they deserve. With all the responsibilities, noise, and chaos in everyday life, our brains seem to absorb it all and make our mental clarity fade. However, the noise in the outside world doesn’t have to replicate itself within your mind; you can control the state of your brain by taking time for self-care and relaxation. If you find it hard to focus or think clearly, this is a clear sign you need to chill out.
4. You get sick a lot.
Getting sick frequently means your immune system is overwhelmed and cannot do its job to eliminate harmful toxins and bacteria. Many people attribute sickness to just “something going around,” but often don’t think about how their mental state plays a part in contracting a cold or flu. If you experience stress for prolonged periods of time, it can weaken your immune system, inhibiting the function of cortisol in the human body. Cortisol helps to regulate immune cells during a stressful situation, but if the stress continues, it loses its effectiveness over time.
5. You use food to drown out your problems.
So many people eat food not when they’re actually hungry, but when they feel too many negative emotions that they cannot process or deal with. Emotional eating can become a very detrimental habit, and using food as a crutch will only exacerbate the real problem at hand. Feeling full acts as a way to temporarily forget about emotions and problems in life, and gives us a quick dose of dopamine to make us feel relaxed and happy. However, many foods people reach for to appease their emotions are highly addictive and harmful to the human body in large quantities.
Next time you feel stressed, make some hot tea, take a bubble bath, meditate, or do something to truly relax your mind and nourish your soul.
6. When you actually have time to relax, you don’t know how.
With cell phones constantly beeping and buzzing, and hundreds of shows we can binge-watch on Netflix, many people don’t even know what it means to relax anymore. To truly clear the mind, surrender to the nothingness when the mind is quiet, and just breathe. Relaxing doesn’t mean drowning out your thoughts and emotions in food, shows, social media, or other distractions; it means giving in to the now, and enjoying your own company. If you don’t enjoy alone time, and instead feel stressed or anxious when you have time alone with your own thoughts, this might mean that you have too much stress in your life.
7. You have frequent skin flare-ups.
Like we said before, stress can show up anywhere in the body, including on the skin. According to WebMD, stress causes your body to produce excess cortisol and other stress hormones, which in turn, signals to your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Excess oil can lead to acne and other skin rashes, so if you feel stressed, make sure to exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques, and remember to always make time for yourself!
We all know what it’s like to have a really bad day.
The worst of them can leave us stressed, angry and primed to explode. Luckily for most of us, though, our fuses never quite burn all the way and we calm down without incident. After all, the best cure for a fit of rage is some time alone and a little breather. It’s just too bad nobody told that to the people below, because the idea of walking away never seems to have occured to them.
Take this driver, for example, who just slightly overreacted after someone double-parked in his space:
Because ain’t nobody got time to look for another spot.
Or even these two, where friendly discussion just didn’t apply:
Running each other over just seemed more effective
In fact, roads are always such special, happy places:
Then there’s the people who play video games. Aren’t they just SO much fun?
Especially when you beat the other players:
“Hulk smash game console; Hulk eat player 2”
Board games can be another great way to cool off:
Same with card games:
Er…what about Monopoly?
Family game night = family fight night
Hmm, maybe try a different game. Sporting matches can be a great way to loosen up and have some fun. Just ask this guy:
His team must be winning
Then there’s this athlete, who probably just needed to widen his stance a little:
This isn’t football, bruh
Speaking of happy places, did we mention the “Leave Brittney alone” guy?!
Man’s about to have a breakdown.
No matter how furious you get though, you should never take your frustration out on random objects:
A petting zoo is obviously a far better place to calm down. Everybody loves animals!
Or maybe you’re a people person. Customer service might be a good fit! Here’s how someone reacted after a business included complimentary treats and sweets with his order:
Those sweets are endangering lives, people.
Okay, fine. You know what you need? A nice relaxing ride on the ferry:
That didn’t work either?! Then maybe you just need to cool off—literally. It seems to be working for this reporter:
101 Ultimate Ways to Chill Out and Reduce Stress
Small amounts of stress are healthy and can help you get stuff done. But high levels of stress can have a serious impact on your mental and physical health so it’s important that you find ways to manage this.
People find different things relaxing so we’ve constructed a list of our fave chilling out tips and urge you to give them a try to see which ones work for you! It took us a bloody long time but we did it, we really did it. Here are 101 different things you can do to chill out and reduce stress.
TAKE NOTES …
1. Watch something funny. Laughter really is the best medicine. It relieves physical tension, reduces stress and increases immunity…so watch your fave comedy and laugh your way to tranquility.
2. Body Clench. This relaxation exercise may make you look a bit constipated but give it a go! Starting with your toes, go up through your body, gradually clenching each of your muscles right through to the tiny ones in your face, keep your whole body clenched, hold and then release to let go of all the tension. Feels good, right?
3. Try the Naam Yoga Hand Trick. Using your fingertips, apply pressure to the space between the knuckles of your index and middle fingers. This creates a sense of immediate relaxation by activating a nerve that loosens the area around your heart (don’t worry, it’s not as life-threatening as it sounds).
4. Stop multitasking. No wonder we’re all mega-stressed when we’re replying to text messages, whilst watching TV and speaking on the phone simultaneously! Not only is multitasking totally inefficient, but it’s also linked to the increased production of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that can send your body into panic mode! So chill out and take things one step at a time.
5. Get a Colouring Book. They’ve exploded in popularity over recent months and for good reason – colouring in helps you chill out because it’s very difficult to focus on other things when you’re doing it.
6. Have a banana. When we’re stressed out our blood pressure tends to rise but the potassium found in bananas can help to regulate this. Stress can also leave us feeling depleted but bananas give you a replenishing energy boost that will get you swinging from the trees again!
7. Organize ‘worry time’. (Worryingly) worry can counterproductively occur at any point in the day and release stress hormones into the body that can cause anxiety and lower our immune systems. So schedule a 15 minute worry window in your day, where you can write down your worries and work through them. You can use DTL’s stress reprogrammer to help.
8. Do some baking. The smell of baking can make people feel calm and comforted. Many people find baking stress relieving and adding decorative touches to your creation can give you a sense of pride, enhance how you’re feeling and therefore boost your self-esteem…so what better excuse to eat cake?
9. Cook up a facemask. Yep, that’s right, we are suggesting you mix up half an avocado, a teaspoon of honey, 2 tablespoons of hot water and smear it all over your face so that you vaguely resemble the Wicked Witch of the West. Relax for 10 to look and feel rejuvenated.
10. Stay silly. Don’t leave playtime at the primary school gates. Studies have consistently highlighted the importance of play for helping manage stress throughout our lives. Goofing around is good for us so bring out the lego, pull ugly faces and dance in the rain shamelessly!
11. Keep calm and kiss. Kissing increases levels of the love hormone, oxytocin, which relaxes us whilst decreasing the stress hormone, cortisol. It’s been shown that kissing can lower anxiety in a similar way to meditation as well as generally improving your mood through an increase of serotonin and endorphins in the brain…so love really does conquer all!
12. Stay inside and listen to the rain. Want a good excuse to stay in your PJ’s? White noise may make you wanna tear your hair out when it’s blaring out the TV, but this sound of nature shares similar wavelengths to the frequencies produced by white noise and actually has relaxing effects on the brain. So curl up with a hot choc and let your brainwaves do the work.
13. Watch a nature documentary. Not only are David Attenborough’s dulcet tones particularly soothing, nature documentaries can also sprinkle our minds with mood-lifting wanderlust and highlight the sheer scale of life which can in turn help us gain perspective of our own lives.
14. Meditate. Create a little zen den in your room where you can meditate (e.g. light candles and incense, play calming music). Reaching a meditative state takes practice but there are some great tips for beginners online. Meditation can help ease anxiety and improve concentration, so peace out.
15. Breathe ‘Pranayama’ style. This yoga method requires you to breathe through one nostril at a time (inhale through the left by blocking the right, exhale through the right by blocking the left, repeat for 3 minutes) to relieve stress. Weird but wonderful!
16. A spoonful of honey. Mother nature’s delicious treat has compounds that reduce inflammation in the brain which can help improve a low mood. Bee happy… (sorry, couldn’t resist).
17. Turn up the music and dance. Combining music and dance can help build self-esteem, lift your mood and reduce anxiety. Dancing may also help express emotions and experiences that are difficult to communicate in words alone…so go dance like no one’s watching!
18. Watch a tearjerker. Ok, so you’re only on the first scene of ‘Up’ and you’re already in floods…don’t panic! The teary-eyed may experience a slight dip in their mood following the film but not long after you’ll notice your mood improve considerably from its original state and crying is an excellent way to relieve stress too so get the tissues out!
19. Try self-hypnosis. Ok so forget dangling pendants and special powers, self-hypnosis can really work! There’s loads of mp3’s you can download online to help reprogram your subconscious to relieve stress and anxiety so have a listen.
20. Doodle. You may associate doodling with being bored in class but doing it in your spare time can be a great way to relax. When we’re stressed we can get caught in our thoughts but by doodling you’re engaging the creative upper right side of your brain which will give you the space you need to calm down and find a fresh perspective.
21. Play games. Board games, cards and even online/video games (in moderation!) can be a really effective way of relaxing. Fun games can trigger the release of endorphins and can help shift your attention away from stress. Interacting with friends and families through games can help ease stressful dynamics too. Looks like I’ll be playing Call of Duty forever then…
22. Have a hug. Hugging increases serotonin levels which are linked to happiness and releases oxytocin which lowers stress hormones like cortisol. How lovely.
23. Have a massage exchange. Most of us don’t have 50 quid lying around to splash out on a professional massage, so relieve tension the frugal way and exchange massages with a friend. For example, try massaging the muscle under the thumb to relieve tension in the hands (you’ll look just like a pro!) There are loads of tips online so you, your mate and your bank balance can enjoy the benefits of relaxation!
24. Drink hot water. Learn from the tradition of Chinese healing and drink a cup of good ol’, clean hot water. Ok, so it may not be as delicious as a hot chocolate but it will cleanse your system of toxins that have accumulated in the body and may be causing tension. You could try adding some lemon for flavour, vitamin C and its mood enhancing properties (e.g. reducing anxiety).
25. Support someone else. Moving your attention outside yourself can help take the pressure of stressors in your own life and supporting others can also give you valuable insight for how to redress your issues. Seeing the impact you make in that person’s life will also boost your self-esteem which in turn, can help de-stress.
26. Visit a free museum or gallery. Cultural centers provide a safe haven of positive distraction, reduce tension and inspire our creativity too. Often, you can get free entry or reduced rates so check out what’s available in your area.
27. Watch cute animals on youtube. Oh, the power of cute! Watching our furry friends doing their thing can help reduce your stress levels and lift your mood. Aww!
28. Go Stargazing. Laying down and watching a starry night is not only awesome but it increases your brain’s alpha waves which rapidly enables you to relax. Cool, huh?
29. Light some incense. Scents like Sandalwood and Sage can help calm anxieties and aid relaxation (and make your room smell wonderful!)
30. Squeeze a stress ball. Using a stress ball can help alleviate tension by promoting muscle relaxation and providing a general sense of release.
31. Keeping a diary. Venting all those thoughts and emotions onto paper can make your feelings and problems seem less intimidating. Writing can be both insightful and therapeutic so get those words down on paper!
32. Chew gum. Chewing gum for a few minutes can help release anxiety, improve your mood and you’ll never have to worry about bad breath again!
33. Drink green tea. Feeling all worked up? Green tea is a source of the chemical L-Theanine which can help relieve anger.
34. Call an old friend. Feeling out of control? Speaking to an old friend can be really grounding. Social connectedness can reduce stress levels and no doubt the nostalgia will get you smiling and laughing too!
35. Snuggle up with a pet. Cuddling your pet can help reduce anxiety through the release of oxytocin in your brain, ease feelings of social rejection and make you feel cared for which can help boost your self esteem. The cutest therapy going!
36. Sniff those flowers. Did you know that certain smells can change our mood? Floral scents can lift your mental state and make you feel less anxious…so go stick your nose in your neighbours rhododendron bush!
37. Stretch it out. Stretching has been linked to relaxation and stress relief as well as a greater sense of wellbeing. It’s also incredibly satisfying.
38. Organise your space. Mess can really start to clutter up your mind so clean your room and reorganize your desk. Tidy room, tidy mind (sorry, we said it).
39. Take a walk in nature. Not only will walking trigger the release of endorphins which can reduce stress hormones, but being out in nature can boost serotonin levels which can also contribute to an improved sense of wellbeing.
40. Wash dishes. Ok, so I get that you’ve probably spent half your life avoiding this task but you’ll be surprised at how therapeutic it is. Not only will mindfully washing the dishes relax you, but you’ll please your other household members too and feel a sense of self-esteem boosting accomplishment. Concentrate on letting your mind and body experience the task with serene awareness (e.g. focussing on the smell of the soap, the feel of the dishes and the warmth of the water).
41. Visualization. Your mind is a powerful tool. Whether you use it to visualize success, visit a happy place, or embark on an imaginary journey, the technique can help alleviate anxiety and sadness so go get creative in your head!
42. Sleep well. Whilst stress can interfere with sleeping, sleeping can also relieve stress. So use some of our chilling out tips to help you relax before bed and follow our DTL Sleep Guide so you can ensure that you’re spending a third of your life in bedtime bliss…zzz…
43. Cook your fave dish. Nourishing yourself with a good meal can help boost your sense of self-worth. Cooking can be a relaxing and rewarding process and hopefully you’ll feel accomplished instead of poisoned by the end!
44. Write a card for someone you care about. Whoever it is I can assure you that they’ll appreciate a card letting them know you’re thinking of them. Random acts of kindness like this have beneficial effects for both you and the person at the receiving end. You can feel good about making someone else feel great and performing these acts has been linked to helping socially anxious people feel more positive.
45. Light some candles. Candlelight is known for its calming effects and (even better) scented candles have aromatherapeutic properties which can improve wellbeing. Watching the flame of a candle can also be a great starting point for meditation. So sit back and enjoy the glow!
46. Take a nap. Don’t feel guilty, naps aren’t just for those over the age of 65! The afternoon power nap can effectively reduce stress, improve your mood and increase alertness, so we give you full permission to climb back into bed!
47. Countdown from ten. Caught in chaos? Take a couple of minutes out of your day to mindfully countdown from ten and back up again. Continue this process until you feel calm enough to resume your day.
48. Wake up and smell the coffee. Finally, a saying that makes literal sense! Smelling coffee actually reduces stress hormones, so we suggest you have a good whiff of a decaf variety over breakfast.
49. Enjoy being in a water. Paddle down to your local swimming pool and let the water do its magic. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals that can help improve our mental health and swimming is a peaceful way of achieving this. Moving in water has relaxing effects on the body as it allows oxygen to flow to your muscles which consequently regulates your breathing.
50. Give your temples a good ol’ massage. Learn from the great art of acupuncture and give those temples a gentle knead with your index and middle fingertips. Massaging your temples helps relax the other muscles in your body as well as soothing your headache symptoms (bonus!).
51. Feed the birds. Enjoy the company birds can bring and track all the different species you can view from your doorstep. Ok, so I know it’s not exactly a night out with your mates but give it a try!…being around nature has a range of positive effects on our mental health (such as reducing anxiety) and you’ll be able to see the happiness you’ve bought to these cute little creatures.
52. Have a sleepover. Whilst some social situations can be stressful, a sleepover with your best mate can be a great way to chill out. Spending time with someone you trust in a relaxed environment can do wonders for your wellbeing and we’re sure you’ll be laughing all night long too!
53. Hum the tune of your fave song. Feeling anxious? Humming can dramatically slow down your heart rate and ground you. It also has a relaxing effect on your face, neck and shoulder muscles. Humming your fave tune will lift your mood and ensure you don’t get some other irritating song stuck in your head!
54. Open the windows. Not only does fresh air promote wellbeing and relax you, but getting more oxygen to the brain improves concentration and gives you the energy boost you need without the same sugar comedown of a chocolate bar (damn).
55. Play team sports. Whilst any exercise works wonders, team sports may be better for your mental health than exercising alone as they promote a sense of connection and can reduce social anxiety. Quidditch anyone?
56. Be nice to yourself. Criticising yourself again? Take some time to practice self-love, whether that means starting the day repeating positive affirmations about yourself or nourishing your body with the nutrition you need. Remember ditching negative self-talk really will relieve a lot of stress. Check out some of DTL’s tips on building your self esteem.
57. Have a bath. Taking a dip in a hot bath will relax your muscles, enabling you to unwind both physically and mentally which can help prepare you for a good night sleep too. A good soak can also be a great way to reduce daily anxiety…unleash the rubber ducks!
58. Get up earlier. Sorry guys. Whilst I wish early starts weren’t the reality, setting your alarm clock even just 15 minutes earlier could reduce your stress levels by eliminating that morning rush. Waking up earlier also provides you with some valuable time to relax with yourself and prepare for the day ahead…so wake up sleepy heads! (Yawn).
59. Avoid negativity. Don’t let other people’s negativity shoot your adrenaline levels through the roof. It’s important not to judge someone for being negative, try to support them but make sure you separate your identity and emotions from it. If their negativity is aimed at you, it looks like their engaging in bullying behaviour so read DTL’s advice on how to talk to someone who’s bullying you.
60. Have a picnic. Outdoor activities like this promote our mental and physical wellbeing. Going on a picnic with your friends or family can help reduce the stress we associate with school, work and home whilst providing a bonding experience that can alleviate feelings of social isolation. Jam sandwich anyone?
61. Buy a plant. Not only does filling your room with flowers look pretty and purify the air, but being around plants can help people feel more relaxed and actually reduce your likelihood of developing stress related depression.
62. Get knitting. Get creative using your motor skills to make repetitive motions that relieve stress. Give your brain a much needed break and if your thoughts get distracted, return to the movement. Start designing your own knitwear and you’ll never have to worry about being caught in the same outfit as someone else (bonus)!
63. Relax your jaw. Release the tension you’re carrying in your jaw by opening it wide for a half a minute, breathing through your nose and gently closing it. Great practice for the dentist too 😀
64. Reflect on the day’s achievements. Don’t get stressed about what you should be doing, feel great about what you have done instead. We’re not expecting you to have climbed Mount Everest, you could have just given a friend some good advice. The reflection process can help boost your self esteem and ease anxiety as you’ll see how great you are already!
65. Munch some crunch. It’s important not to use food as a stress reducer as this can lead to unhealthy eating habits. But when you do reach for a snack, try some carrot sticks or a handful of almonds as this will help relieve stress by working your jaw muscles as well as giving you a nutritious boost. Gnaw away!
66. Deep breaths. When we’re feeling anxious our breathing changes and this ‘overbreathing’ can actually produce more anxiety. But deep breathing will encourage your mind and body to slow down and return to normal. So next time you feel yourself getting anxious, have a quick break and take a deep diaphragmatic breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 2 and exhale slowly through the mouth for 4 (wait a few seconds and then repeat). Panic over!
67. Decompress your stress. Invest in a 3-pack of flannels, soak them in warm water and place one on each of your shoulders and your neck, then close your eyes and relax those muscles. Ta da!
68. Turn off ALL electronic devices. Technology can be wonderful but interconnectedness comes at a price…laptops, phones and tablets all subtly increase our stress levels making us feel constantly ‘wired’. They can also disrupt your sleep which will only contribute to stress so make sure you switch them off an hour or two before bed. Oh the conflicting joys of the 21st century!
69. Browse books. Go to your local library and spend some time browsing their book selection in the peace and quiet. Sit back, relax and get lost in the good book you’ve found. New research suggests that reading even for just six minutes can reduce your stress levels by two thirds!
70. Clear your closet. Having a closet full of clothes you never wear just creates clutter and adds to the stress bucket. So make a day of it, auction off your unwanted clothes and donate the proceeds to Ditch the Label! Thanks.
71. Study a new topic. I know it sounds counterproductive considering the stress studying causes, but study a topic you don’t do at school, like gender across cultures, or survival skills…we would all feel more relaxed if we knew how to survive on a desert island.
72. Mix up your route. Commuting through traffic jams could be sending your stress levels haywire unnecessarily. Try riding your bike to school or college instead for a calm and collected arrival. Or if you walk everywhere, try taking different routes to ensure your usual zombie walk stays within Shaun of the Dead.
73. Take a break from social media. Whilst interconnectedness and the opportunities of social media offer us so much, using it too often can have adverse effects. It can lower your self esteem, take you away from the moment and bring drama into your life. All of these factors massively contribute to stress so take a break!
74. Have a good cry. Bottling up your emotions can lead you down a dangerous path and suppressing those tears actually increases your stress levels so make sure you let it all out and you’ll be surprised by the relief it brings. Get the violins out!
75. Write a gratitude list. Unsurprisingly, stressful events can leave us feeling negative and as if we’re lacking in some way. But having a greater sense of appreciation for the people and things in your life can really help you gain perspective, feel more positive and enable you to better handle stress. So try writing down 5 things you’re thankful for.
76. Try herbal remedies. Mother nature scores again! Next time you’re feeling stressed try sipping on some chamomile tea, full of anti-anxiety components, or drip some lavender oil on your pillow at night to help relax you for a peaceful night’s sleep.
78. Don’t procrastinate. We’ve all been there…one minute you’re revising, the next minute you’re checking out the photos of your friends’ mutual friends’ friend on facebook (wow, that even sounds as stressful as it is), but all procrastination does is put things off and stops you achieving your goals which only generates more stress!
79. Lower your standards. Setting ridiculously high standards for yourself generates anxiety by putting pressure on you to perform and it can make you particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of emotional stress. Nobody’s perfect so try loving and accepting yourself as the great individual you are.
80. Get a hobby. Pursuing a new hobby is a fun way to break away from life’s demands, as well as allowing you to build your self esteem, forge new friendships and express yourself, which all contribute to the reduction of stress. Why not give photography a go or try out a free yoga class in your area…do whatever interests YOU!
81. Watch the sunrise (or set). Ok, so perhaps getting up at the crack of dawn to watch a sunrise is a little bit ambitious, but watching a sunset on a clear summer’s evening is both breathtaking and incredibly relaxing. So let go of your worries and let yourself get immersed in the colors. It’s true that the best things in life are free.
82. Ask for help. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. Trying to cope with everything on your own just exacerbates stress. Whether you open up to a trusted friend, family member or us here at Ditch, a problem shared is a problem halved!
83. Eat stress free. Incorporate stress-busting foods into your diet like avocados, oily fish, whole wheat varieties and oatmeal. Please Sir, can I have some more?
84. Enjoy simplicity. Living life in the fast lane? Rushing around is not only stressful, we forget about the simple things that bring us happiness too so learn to stop and notice life’s little pleasures like laughing with your friends or enjoying the feeling of sun on your skin. Mindfulness can significantly reduce anxiety so relax and enjoy the moment!
85. Strike a (yoga) pose. There’s loads of yoga poses you can try at home that can help reduce anxiety. Have a go at the child’s pose by sitting on your knees and bending forwards so that your face is resting on the floor, keeping your arms by your sides. This comforting pose, helps us turn inside for a while and slow down our racing minds.
86. Stop judging. With so many things to worry about, don’t let worrying about what other people do with their time be one of them. Sitting around gossiping about others and criticising them isn’t gonna make anyone happy. Try supporting them instead. If you often find yourself judging others it’s likely that you’ve been giving yourself a hard time too so ditch the criticism and you’ll not only feel better about yourself but you’ll have a lot more time to relax too!
87. Spend a day at the beach. Beautiful views, the soothing sounds of water and a Mr.Whippy in the rain…what’s not to like? Whether you go in a group or roll solo, the beach is a relaxing break away from everyday stresses and the negative ions you soak up will have positive effects on your body and mind back in reality too.
88. Nurture yourself through words. Read whatever inspires you; poems, positive affirmations and empowering quotes….let the words ground you, calm your mind and regenerate you.
89. Avoid Caffeine. That comforting cup of coffee may not be so kind to your nerves. Whilst giving you a temporary boost, caffeine injects adrenaline into your system and increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A cup of coffee can brew trouble for anxiety sufferers so try an equally heart-warming decaf alternative instead.
90. Learn to forgive. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s how we learn. Bullying yourself, mulling over petty grievances and begrudging others is only gonna hurt you so start forgiving yourself and other people and you’ll find there’s a lot less to stress about!
91. Say no sometimes. Being a ‘yes’ person isn’t easy. People pleaser’s listen up!…saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you’re selfish or rude. Practicing saying ‘no’ will help simplify your life and give you the valuable time you need to relax with yourself.
92. Get some sun. Vitamin D (which our bodies absorb through exposure to the sun) can play an important role in your mental health but by the time it gets to those long winter months many of us are lacking in it. Keep calm and soak up all the sun you can and if you’re running low, top up with vitamin D rich foods like oily fish and eggs.
93. Listen to calming music. Oh, the power of music! Research suggests that chilled out tunes slow down our pulses, lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones. So plug in and relax or if no one’s listening sing/shout along to release even more tension!
94. Stand tall. Did you know good posture can actually make you feel more in control and less anxious? Power poses of confidence can actually decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so stand proud and your mood will follow.
95. Drink more water. Even slight dehydration can lower our moods and it can increase levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Dehydration can also cause your body to stop functioning properly which can result in anxiety too…so get sipping!
96. Do a puzzle. Feeling all keyed up? Try and crack a sudoku, a crossword or piece together a puzzle to unwind and get your mind into a state of relaxation.
97. Take your brain on holiday. As much as we’d all love to be sunbathing in the Caribbean right now, most of us our constrained to mind wandering instead. But daydreaming can help you solve stressful problems, relax you and inspire creativity. So get lost in your thoughts and see where your mind takes you!
98. Spend less. Advertisers capitalise on the notion that buyers ruthlessly spend in response to stress and low self-esteem. Remember that having lots of things just adds to stress and won’t solve negative feelings so next time you’re about to part with your cash take a step back and ask “why do I want this?” and “do I really need this?”
99. Do your nails. There are loads of tips online for giving yourself the ultimate DIY mani and pedi. Spend some time looking after number one, feel relaxed and get creative with nail art too!
100. Listen to an audiobook. Being read a story is ridiculously relaxing and a comforting way to wind down before bed. It’s much less effort than reading and there’s a huge choice of podcasts online so do check those out.
101. Make your room your safe haven. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary for peaceful relaxation so make it that way! Get some candles, declutter your space and why not make a personalised noticeboard of quotes that inspire you, pictures, photographs…
Remember. You may be in a particularly stressful period at the moment and feel overpowered but remember it WILL PASS. It’s likely that the negative feelings you’re experiencing are to do with your body responding naturally to stress. So stay calm, and relieve your stress using these tips. But, if those feelings become overwhelming and make you feel out of control, do see your GP, speak to a trusted adult or talk to Ditch the Label. There’s great support available for you and remember that nobody deserves to suffer in silence.
America is uptight. Whether it’s a headache, problems sleeping, or feeling down or depressed, a full 80 percent of us are dealing with at least one stress-related health symptom, according to a 2017 study from the American Psychological Association (APA).
While the APA highlights the current political climate as a major source of anxiety for many of us, the truth is Americans have long had a problem chilling out. We work crazier hours and vacation less than almost any other nation on Earth. We also suffer from higher rates of burnout.
Jack Nicholson may have put it best in a 1986 interview: “Life used to be work until five o’clock and then you were meant to have some fun, some nourishment, some leisure. Americans don’t understand leisure. They don’t have a clue. They understand work; they understand play . . . they do not understand leisure.” (If you ever want to kill a few hours in the most entertaining, wisdom-infused way possible, read some old Jack interviews.)
“People develop a habit of carrying around more tension than they need to, and the more tense you are, the more easily you become anxious,” says Michelle Newman, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for Anxiety and Mood Pathology at Penn State University.
Relaxation, Newman says, is the release of physical tension—and therefore a great way to keep your anxiety under control. How can you relax? Here are seven proven techniques
Breathe This Way
“People think ‘take a deep breath,’ but that’s the worst thing you can do,” Newman says. Sucking in a big breath of air is basically hyperventilating your lungs, and can make your anxiousness worse, she says.
Do this instead: “Put one hand on your chest and another on your abdomen just above your belly button,” Newman advises. Your goal is to breathe “diaphragmatically,” which means you’re sucking air down toward your stomach as opposed to into your chest.
“If your lower hand is moving while you breathe, you’re doing it right,” she says. “Try to take slow, shallow breaths,” and you’ll quickly calm yourself down, she adds.
Whether a person is suffering from back pain, cancer, or the after-effects of a traumatic experience, “laughter therapy” seems to be an effective way to feel better and combat stress-related anxiety, research shows.
Identifying exactly how laughter does this has proved tricky. But research from Lee Berk, Dr.PH., of California’s Loma Linda University, suggests a good laugh can unwrap or counteract all the tension-increasing, anxiety-driving processes that go on in your brain and body when you’re frazzled.
So fire up a funny video or podcast. You’ll feel more relaxed in no time.
Take a Break From Your Devices
Checking email and sports scores, posting on social, texting your family, listening to music . . . you probably do many (or all) of these things every time you pick up your phone—often in rapid succession.
Bad news: That kind of “media multitasking” may shrink a part of your brain linked with emotional control and anxiety regulation, finds a 2014 study from University College London.
If you can manage to pry yourself away from your phone, ditching it for an hour or two—or at least restricting yourself to one activity, like replying to texts or listening to music—should help you mellow out.
Clench, Then Release
Newman says “progressive muscle relaxation” is a proven way to decrease tension and anxiety. “Your goal is to systematically tense and then release different muscle groups,” she says.
Tensing your muscles first is important. “When you first tense the muscle group and then release, it’s like a pendulum that, when it swings to one side, will then swing farther to the other side,” she explains.
She says there are lots of online sites or apps that can walk you through this practice. Here’s one 10-minute guided program from Brigham Young University.
Is Sitting Really Bad For Your Health?
Get Together With a Buddy
For decades, psychologists have recognized that hanging with friends is an effective shield against stress and anxiety.
One 2015 study found spending a lot of time on your own can lower your brain’s levels of feel-good chemicals in ways that promote anxiety and hamper “fear extinction”—or your mind’s ability to calm itself down.
Getting together with friends has just the opposite effect, says Robin Dunbar, Ph.D., a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford in the U.K. Some quality time with your buds triggers the release of endorphins in your brain. “Since these endorphins are opiates, they give us a bit of an opiate-like high, and that just makes us feel good,” he says.
Newman says almost any form of exercise—from weight training to yoga—can be a great way to unwind and combat anxiety. Mounds of research show exercise triggers the release of endorphins and other feel-good brain chemicals that combat tension.
But it’s important to step away from work and other stressors while you’re sweating out your anxiety. If you’re checking email or conducting business calls while you work out, you’re not going to get any of the relaxation benefits. In fact, those activities, coupled with the physical stress training places on your body, could actually promote anxiousness.
Spend Time in Nature
Going back to the early 1990s, research has linked time spent in nature with lower rates of anxiety and stress. Especially if you live in a city or urban environment, escaping to the woods or mountains for an hour or two seems to help your brain and body mellow out, shows research from Australia.
Why? For most of human history, people lived among plants and trees and water like any other animal. It’s possible we haven’t “fully adapted” to living in nature-bereft city environments, the Aussie researchers write.
Markham Heid Markham Heid is an experienced health reporter and writer, has contributed to outlets like TIME, Men’s Health, and Everyday Health, and has received reporting awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Maryland, Delaware, and D.C.