Here’s a short list of easy ways to blow off steam, relax, and de-stress no matter how little time you have. Tap into these simple, common-sense approaches to bring yourself back into balance whether you are frustrated with a situation at work, facing a problem at home, tired from being on the go all day, or just need to gain some perspective.
This list offers proven techniques for unwinding: humor, playfulness, movement, music, connecting with nature, relaxation exercises, writing, and gratitude. Try a few and let us know which are your favorites—or tell us if you have other ways of managing your stress and nourishing your mind, body, or emotions after a hard day or a tough week.
When you have less than a minute:
- Take 5 or 6 slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths. Imagine you are exhaling stress and inhaling energy.
- Sit up straight, smile, and think of three things to be grateful for today—really grateful for.
- Spend a moment immersed in a memory of a time when you felt completely relaxed and happy.
- Sip some chamomile tea—it’s been proven to soothe ruffled nerves.
When you can take a 10-minute break:
- Go for a brisk walk or climb some stairs.
- Dance to music you love! (In your house, behind closed doors if you prefer.)
- Do a few gentle stretches, shoulder rolls, and twists to loosen up tight muscles.
- List five things that are positive or potentially funny about a situation that has you worried or upset.
When you can take a 20-minute break:
- Unwind by elevating your legs: Lie on your back with your calves on a couch or a chair so there is about a 90-degree bend at your hips and knees. Rest and focus on relaxing your breath; 20 minutes in this “constructive rest” position is equal to a 2-hour nap.
- Take a walk in nature (under some trees or by a body of water, if possible). Breathe the fresh air and connect with the rhythms of nature.
- Play a musical instrument you enjoy.
20 minutes before bed:
- Turn off the computer, television, tablet, and smartphone, and go outside and look at the stars.
- Soak in a hot bath.
- Journal about your day.
Once in a while make time to spend an afternoon, evening, or whole day on one of these activities:
- Indulge in an at-home spa bath: put on soft music, light some candles, pour some scented bath salts in your tub, and enjoy a long soak in hot water.
- Get a massage.
- Try an exercise class: dance, yoga, spinning, Zumba.
- Learn something new: cooking, drawing, flower arranging, take up a musical instrument, or join a chorus.
- Make time for arts that inspire you. Go to a gallery, a play, or a concert.
- Play like a kid (or, even better, with a kid): spend time with a favorite activity from your childhood.
- Get outside and connect with nature. Take a long hike or go to the beach (or ice skating or snowshoeing, depending on the season).
- Socialize: spend time with good friends.
Try a few, and see which ones helped you de-stress!