Life got you stressed? That’s understandable! Life stressors abound, from financial troubles to cranky kids, grumpy coworkers, flat tires, loneliness, chores, and everything in between. When you’re at your wit’s end, it can feel like the only option is to keep working hard to stay on top of a million different things. But as counterintuitive as it seems, a better antidote may be to stop what you’re doing and devote a few moments to feeling less stressed. Here’s how to calm down in just five minutes.
10 Strategies to Feel Calmer Fast
- Listen to music
If you don’t already have a calm-down playlist, don’t let that be another stress! You can easily find calming music by searching Spotify or YouTube. Try searching general terms such as “calming music” or more specific queries such as “calm piano music” or “meditation music.” Research confirms that listening to relaxing tunes can help the nervous system recover from a stressful stimulus.
- Practice progressive muscle relaxation
This easy, equipment-free activity can help relieve both physical tension and psychological stress. The practice requires you to tense and then relax all of your body’s major muscles one at a time, starting near your head and working toward your feet.
- Watch an ASMR video
Though research into Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is still in the early stages, some evidence suggests watching an ASMR video could promote a feeling of calm and overall well-being. If you’re not familiar with ASMR, it’s a pleasurable tingling sensation in the scalp or spine. Some people experience it when they watch others do mundane sensory activities such as whispering, turning pages, or eating. Experiment with different videos to see if a particular type works for you.
- Give journaling a try
You’ve probably heard this one before, but writing down your thoughts can be a powerful way to manage anxiety and spark a more positive mindset. Research suggests you can benefit from journaling in two ways: Free write about what makes you anxious or list things you’re grateful for.
- Do acupressure
Even if you don’t have time for an hour-long massage, you can give yourself the gift of calming touch with acupressure. The practice may help relieve anxiety and reduce pain, and it’s simple. Learn some easy-to-reach pressure points, then apply some gentle pressure and feel your body unwind.
- Go for a short walk outside
Physical activity — including low-impact activities such as walking — helps release pent-up energy and is a proven tool for managing stress. Up the ante by taking your movement break outside. Research shows time spent in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety.
- Try a breathing technique
Focus on your breath for just a few minutes to help you find some space from stressful thoughts. If you’ve tried one style of breathwork and it didn’t work for you, try another! You have plenty of styles to choose from, including belly breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, three-part breathing, box breathing, and roll breathing. Experiment with different techniques until you find one that helps you feel calmer.
- Practice EFT tapping
Emotional freedom technique (EFT) sometimes goes by the nickname “tapping.” Whatever you call it, the practice has gained popularity in recent years as an alternative approach for managing everything from stress to physical pain. Research indicates it can be helpful for anxiety, depression, phobias, and PTSD. The process is a little involved, but with a little practice, it becomes easy. Check out a step-by-step guide to get started.
- Listen to a 5-minute guided meditation
Meditation has become go-to health advice for good reason. It’s been shown to ease anxiety, depression, and even physical pain. If the thought of sitting with your own thoughts for five minutes makes you more anxious, consider a short, guided meditation to make the process less daunting.
- Repeat a mantra
Sometimes, the best way out of a spiral of anxious thoughts is to distract yourself with another thought. Mantras (which are sometimes called repetitive prayers) come in handy. The technique is simple: Just repeat a short prayer or affirming phrase such as “With every breath, I feel myself relax” either out loud or in your mind while breathing slowly and deeply. Continue until you feel calmer.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take five. Then deploy any of the techniques above. Within just a few minutes, you may find yourself feeling calmer and more equipped to tackle whatever challenges life throws at you.