Best Ways to Relax in 5 Minutes or Less

  1. Nosh on Chocolate

Just a square (about 1.4 ounces) of the sweet stuff can calm your nerves. Dark chocolate regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stabilizes metabolism .

  1. Slurp Some Honey

Replace stress with sweetness and try a spoonful of honey. Besides being a natural skin moisturizer and antibiotic, honey also provides compounds that reduce inflammation in the brain, meaning it fights depression and anxiety.

  1. Bite Into a Mango

Take a tropical vacation without leaving the desk chair. Use a five-minute break to peel, slice, and bite into a juicy mango, which packs a compound called linalool that helps lower stress levels . Don’t fret about the juice dripping down your chin—the stress relief is worth the mess.

  1. Chew Gum

Minty, fruity, or bubble-gum flavor, a stick of gum is a surprisingly quick and easy way to beat stress. Just a few minutes of chewing can actually reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels .

  1. Lay Your Head on a Cushion or Pillow

There are days when all we really need is a nice, long nap. But it’s not always possible to start snoring in the middle of the office. If you’ve got a pillow, you’re already on the road to relaxation. Try this visualization technique: Lay your head down for a few minutes and imagine the pillow is a sponge sucking up all your worries.

  1. Close Your Eyes

James Taylor said it: You can close your eyes, it’s all right. Take a quick break from a busy office or a chaotic household by just lowering your eyelids. It’s an easy way to regain calm and focus.

  1. Give Yourself a Hand Massage

When there’s no professional masseuse in sight, try Dying a hand massage for instant relaxation that calms a pounding heart . Massages can be especially helpful for people who spend a lot of time typing on a keyboard. Hands in general can carry a lot of tension. Apply some luxurious lotion and start kneading the base of the muscle under the thumb to relieve stress in the shoulders, neck, and scalp.

  1. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball

Leave the clubs at home and just bring the ball. You can get an impromptu relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.

  1. Squeeze a Stress Ball

On days when you want to strangle a coworker, your BFF, or the driver in the next lane, squeeze a stress ball instead. It’s an easy, portable, and non-violent way to relieve tension.

  1. Be Alone

Not everyone needs a cabin the woods, but five minutes of alone time can help you collect your thoughts and clear your head.

  1. Create a Zen Zone

Hiding in a bathroom stall might not sound calming, but do make (or find) a space that’s completely free of stress where you can go to relax. Set up a comfortable chair or light some incense and disappear there for a few minutes until the tension dissipates.

  1. Find the Sun

Here comes the sun—and some stress relief. If it’s a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy folks .

  1. Cuddle With a Pet

A boyfriend or girlfriend is okay, but they’re (usually) not furry enough. After a rough day, snuggle up with a pet for an instant slobbery smile, since pets can boost self-esteem and even ease the sting of social rejection .

  1. Laugh

Stressed? Me? Ha! Laughter’s one of the sillier ways to beat stress, but there’s science behind it . A fit of hysterics can increase blood flow and boost immunity. Keep a book of jokes handy in the desk drawer or check out a hilarious YouTube video (maybe a piano-playing pug?) for a quick pick-me-up.

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