10 Ways to Relax in 10 Minutes (or Less!)

Music is a great way to relax

Stress is a normal occurrence in life but sometimes it can get a little out of control. With the uncertain times we are living in, the APA noted that more than 3 in 4 adults cite the future as a significant source of stress. While yoga, meditation, exercise, and mindfulness are all scientifically proven to reduce stress, sometimes we just don’t have the time in our busy lives. So what can be done quickly when our heart is racing, our palms are sweaty, and we feel out of sorts? To help combat stress quickly, we have compiled 10 things you can do to relax in 10 minutes or less: 

  • Drink Stress-reducing tea: Just the act of making tea can be therapeutic in itself. In many cultures, teas are known to posess therapeutic effects (these are the 10 healthiest teas), and one of the most popular globally is green tea. A study done on the effects of green tea on reduced stress indicates that low-caffeine green tea intake can reduce stress. Tea catechins, which are antioxidants, account for around 40% of the dry weight of brewed green tea, and the amino acid l-theanine makes up 3%. These antioxidants are thought to make people feel calmer and improve memory and attention when consumed.
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  • Use essential oils: Inhaling essential oils are known to calm the mind in times of stress, anxiety, and insomnia. This popular technique, also known as aromatherapy, focuses on using scents to holistically balance your physical, emotional, and psychological health. This study showed that aromatherapy alleviated stress and improved sleep quality in intensive care unit patients after 2 days of the experimental treatment. It’s theorized that aromatherapy can actually alter brain waves and behavior. Clary sage and lavender are two great options for combatting stress and relaxing (feel free to mix and match essential oils!)
  • Stretch at your desk: It’s very important to take breaks during your workday even if you can’t leave your desk. You can perform small stretches for 10 mins at time. Stretches can help with discomfort and work-related pain or injuries. Stretching will not affect your workstation and science supports the breaks- this study found that stretching interventions contributed to a decrease in pain without making any changes to workstation ergonomics.
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  • Quick Yoga session: While there isn’t always time for a full flow, a few poses of yoga can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. A simple 10-minute routine can help lower your cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. This study illustrated that mindfulness and yoga, even in short time frames are able reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.
  • Write it out: If you are someone who is highly expressive or likes to demonstrate emotions, writing your feelings for 10 minutes can help you to focus on positive thoughts and tackle the negative emotions. Research revealed a positive effect of expressive disclosure specifically on anxiety and specifically for young adults who were highly emotionally expressive. Keep these notes on hand to check for patterns to see if there’s a deeper reason behind the stress. 
  • Do the 4-7-8 breathing method: This is a technique that was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil based on an ancient yogic technique called pranayama, which helps practitioners gain control over their breathing. Studies done on breathing techniques demonstrated that mindful breathing techniques can significantly lower cortisol level after training. The technique follows a pattern of: 
    • Step #1 – Breathe in to the count of 4
    • Step #2 – Hold your breath to the count of 7
    • Step #3 – Breathe out to the count of 8 
  • Go for a walk: It is well known that exercising is a great way to manage stress levels and walking is a good way to escape a situation. Walking is also known to help your body release endorphins, the neurotransmitters that make you feel warm and fuzzy. Many people consider walking a form of moving meditation- a few laps around the block can help to relieve previous tension. This study on walking illustrated that a 10-minute bout of brisk walking and meditation both improved mood state, when compared to an inactive control group.
  • Psychological acupuncture/ Emotional freedom technique/ Tapping: This is a technique of tapping specific meridian points of the body which can create a balance in your energy system and treat pain. This technique can take less than 10 mins and when it’s completed can bring your stress down to 0. A study was done on this technique that indicated EFT results in positive health effects as well as increased mental well-being.
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  • Chewing gum: If you fawn over gum, chewing is a great form of stress reduction. In particular, chewing it for at least three minutes can help to reduce your stress levels. Research on this idea indicates that chewing gum during the workday was associated with higher productivity and fewer cognitive problems.
  • Listen to music: Music is healing. Music is good for the soul. Listening to music is also a great way to decrease stress levels. For some people, this may mean listening to relaxing or mellow music like classical or jazz. For others, it could be upbeat happy tunes that take the edge off. But just putting on your favorite song could help to lower your stress levels. A study on this theory demonstrated that music listening impacted the psychobiological stress system.

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