15 5-Second Strategies for Shutting Down Stress ASAP
You know that stressed-out feeling all too well—your heart races, your breath becomes shallow, your mind starts spinning. Luckily, these proven stress relievers will get you back to center in seconds.
How to relieve stress: Sound it out
You’ve heard the “om” sound yogis make when they meditate, right? Well, Joshi says using a buzzing sound is another way to use your voice to calm yourself in the midst of a freakout. “Bhramari, a humming bee sound, can be done by closing the eyes and making the humming sound like a bee,” she says. “These sound vibrations calm down the thought waves and relax the entire nervous system. External sound frequency resonates with the internal rhythm of the body and mind, creating peace and tranquility within.” Research from India has shown Bhramari to improve cardiovascular patterns. Press your ears closed for an even stronger vibration.
How to relieve stress: Shake it off
Take a hint from Taylor Swift and literally shake your body to release tension—but you probably want to do this one in private, or your coworkers might wonder what you’re up to! “In Africa and other cultures, shaking therapy is used for emotional healing—literally shaking off your perceived emotional threat of fear, self-doubt, or worry,” Miller says. “Next time you find yourself emotional because of a specific situation that sideswipes you in life, imagine the irritation beading up on your body and start shaking it off from your feet all the way up to the top of your head.” Picture an animal shaking off after getting out of the water, and use the shaking as a release of the emotional attachments causing you stress. Plus, “most of the time when I use this technique, I end up flipping my frustration into laughter, which is always a great endorphin mood booster!” Miller says. Here are more proven ways to boost your mood.
How to relieve stress: Look in the mirror
You know how movie characters always look themselves in the restroom mirror when faced with a tough situation? Well, giving yourself a quick pep talk in the looking glass can actually help relieve stress. “‘Mirror work‘ is done by looking in a mirror and vocally speaking positive affirmations to yourself with affectionate conviction, to release worry or to improve your self-confidence,” Whitaker says. To relieve stress in the moment, she suggests using a restroom mirror, your car’s rear-view mirror, or even a compact. “Calm your mind by saying encouraging affirmations aloud to yourself, such as, ‘I am excellent at what I do,’ ‘I’ve got this! I am amazing,’ ‘I am an asset to this company,’ or ‘I am awesome!’” she says.
How to relieve stress: Write it down
When your mind is all over the place, organizing your thoughts into a quick to-do list can help transfer the burden from your brain to paper. But for some people, seeing a long list of tasks can increase stress. Miller has another idea: a “stressor and action” sheet. “Fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise, and on the left column write ‘stressor’ and on the right-hand column write ‘action,’” she says. “You will find as you write down thoughtful action steps to the things that are stressing you out, you regain authority over circumstance.” These are the signs you’re more stressed than you realize.
How to relieve stress: Use all your senses
Stress affects your whole body, so find a pick-me-up for each of your senses. Turning on a favorite tune uses your sense of hearing for a science-backed burst of good feeling, and using aromatherapy uses your sense of smell to relax you. “Oils like lavender and lemon reduce stress,” Dr. Serani says. “Also, don’t forget that your sense of smell is the most nostalgic of all your senses,” so if you have a scent that reminds you of comfort, keep it on hand to sniff when you’re freaking out. Your sense of touch can be employed by stroking a “talisman”—a favorite or sentimental item—or even an “intention stick,” which you can hold like a wand to feel more in control. Chew gum to use your sense of taste to curb stress (scientists think it’s the lasting flavor, not just the act of chewing itself, that makes gum such a great stress reliever). Besides using your mind’s eye to visualize a happy place, you can use your sense of sight to look at calming images—cat videos on the Internet have actually been scientifically proven to lower stress unlike these stress “facts” psychologists want you to stop believing.