You’re on a beautiful, tropical beach, with yellow dunes and crystal-clear blue waters. You can feel the sand in your toes and the wind in your hair … not doing it for you? Not surprising. Different things relax different people, and even the calmest among us experience moments of stress from time to time. The following tips and tricks will get you from tear-your-hair-out to smooth sailing in a matter of minutes – so pick one or two and get ready to relax.
1. PUMP UP SOME PEACEFUL TUNES
The right music can melt away stress in a matter of seconds. Keep a few of the tunes that you know make you feel good on your phone so you can pop in your headphones and relax at a moment’s notice. Not sure what pushes your chill buttons? According to a recent study, the song “Weightless” by Marconi Union is the most relaxing song on earth. Worth a go!
2. BREAK OUT THE (DARK) CHOCOLATE
Everything in moderation, of course – but this quick fix is straight up chemistry. Our favorite super food,dark chocolate, is not only packed full of antioxidants; it stimulates the brain to release beta endorphins – happy chemicals! Just 40 grams a day will do the trick, according to best-seller The De-Stress Diet.
3. CHEW GUM
Research proves, that chewing gum can help hone your concentration, which in turn reduces stress. The science behind it? The chewing action reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your saliva, promoting good mood.
4. PET THE DOG
The positive effects of animal therapy include lowering blood pressure and easing anxiety, and can have you feeling blissful in no time at all. Not practical to bring your puppy with you to potentially stressful meetings? Try setting a cute photo as your iPhone wallpaper for a similar – but more portable – calming effect, or taking a few minutes to watch these 7 super cute dog videos.
5. GET DOWN WITH NATURE
Interacting with nature can help you recover from stressful situations quicker, restore mental clarity and increase general feelings of well-being. Even a quick glance out the window at nearby greenery can do the trick, or if you have a few minutes get outside and absorb Mother Nature’s good vibes.
6. FOLLOW YOUR NOSE
One of the handiest pick-me-up tools you can keep in your bag or desk draw is a little bottle of your favorite essential oil. Dab a few drops on a handkerchief, or even on your wrist – and in just a few sniffs you’ll be on your way to feeling great. Any oil will do it, but nature-paths suggest that citrus, lavender or jasmine have the quickest de-stress effect.
7. BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT
Deep breathing soothes the body and mind – especially lengthening the exhalation which is known for its relaxation effects. Try this easy exercise to instantly chill out: breathe in to the count of five, hold in for five, and then slowly exhale while counting to five again. Repeat five times, and enjoy the instant calm! As you get more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase the number of breaths, or slow your breath even more by counting to six, seven, and so on.
8. LAUGH – OR AT LEAST SMILE
Forcing a little laughter gives you all the benefits of the real deal – so push out some “ha ha ha”s to lower your blood pressure and decrease stress hormones for an instant buzz. For a more subtle version, you can flash a simple smile to make yourself – and the people around you – feel happy instantly.
9. TAKE A TIME OUT
This isn’t just for children – it works wonders for adults too. No matter where you are, find a place where you can be alone, with no distractions. Worst case scenario –take a trip to the bathroom. In minutes you’ll be feeling calmer and more relaxed, and ready to face even the toughest of situations.
10. TUCK INTO AN ORANGE
Vitamin C helps lower both blood pressure and stress hormones – so make sure you’re eating at least one orange or tangerine per day and keep one at hand for a super fast chill out. You can also take a daily Vitamin C supplement if you’re going through a particularly trying period.
11. MAKE A SONG AND DANCE
Studies have found that singing and dancing – whether you’re particularly talented or not – help self-esteem and self-image, and instantly boosts levels of calm. Singing encourages the jaw to relax, stimulates emotional expression and overcoming fears and frustrations, while dancing burns calories and inspires mindfulness. So whenever and wherever you can, put on your favorite music and enjoy!