How to Relieve Stress Quickly — In 5 Minutes or Less

Published on April 3, 2022

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Woman at meditation session

Ask anyone how they’re doing today, and there’s a pretty good chance their response will be some variation of stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. Stress has become an epidemic in society today, and thanks to the pandemic, levels of it are at an all-time high. That’s why we’ll tell you how to relieve stress quickly, with strategies you can do in five minutes or less.

Work Burnout Is a Major Source of Stress

According to the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey, 79% of respondents said they had experienced work-related stress within the previous month. For many people, work burnout is a major source of stress in their lives, but we also tend to stress about relationships, health, money and several other factors.

The stress response is a normal reaction to a perceived threat in our environment, and it’s not necessarily unhealthy by itself. The problem is when we become chronically stressed and it begins to seep into other areas of life and negatively affect our physical health, thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Mental Health Is as Important as Physical Health

Studies have shown that emotional stress is a main contributor to the six leading causes of death in the U.S. — cancer, heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. What that means is that mental health is just as important as physical health, and we should all be taking steps to reduce our stress levels every day.

However, many of us are short on time these days (which is no doubt a main driver of daily stress in our lives), so it’s important to find quick and effective tools we can use to relieve stress quickly. If you’re hoping to improve your mental health and reduce the ill effects of stress in your life, there’s no need to move to the Himalayas and become a monk — you can take small steps towards change every day that will add up over time.

Relieve Stress Quickly with These Strategies

Here are five anti-stress strategies you can do in five minutes or less:

1. Take Three (Or More) Conscious Deep Breaths

Head shot close up young peaceful attractive curly hair african american woman breathing fresh air, enjoying deep meditation with closed eyes, relaxing after yoga class workout in sport club.

Relieve stress quickly by paying attention to your breathing for a few moments, which is a meditation in itself. If you slow down and become a conscious observer of each inhale and exhale, you’ll soon find racing thoughts begin to slow as you calm the mind and relax the body. Meditation is proven to be one of the best stress relievers for adults. A beginner’s meditation guide like this one can be helpful for getting started. There are many different types of meditation practices out there, so it’s always best to experiment with as many techniques and styles as you can to find what works for you and access the benefits of meditation.

2. Squeeze a Stress Ball

Office worker typing email on tablet computer. The woman feels stressed and nervous, holds an antistress yellow ball in her hand

According to research, squeezing a stress ball can help you release nervous energy and cultivate a calmer state of mind. Invest in one of these stress balls, or try another hands-on, tactical approach like playing with a fidget spinner or knitting, which has also been shown to decrease stress levels.

3. Experiment with Aromatherapy

Home relaxation with aromatherapy from oil diffuser. Aroma health essence, wellness aromatherapy home spa fragrance tranquil therapy, therapeutic steam, mental health treatment

Our sense of smell is strongly linked to emotions, cognition and memory, which is why catching a whiff of your ex’s cologne can take you right back to the time you spent together. Luckily, you can use this association to your advantage by keeping calming scents like lavender, lemon or orange on-hand to sniff when you feel a wave of stress coming on.

4. Relieve Stress Quickly with Yoga

Young attractive sporty yogi woman practicing yoga concept, sitting in Child exercise, Balasana pose, working out, wearing black sportswear, full length, white loft studio background, side view

Certain yoga poses like happy baby, child’s pose and standing forward folds have the power to disrupt recurring negative thought patterns and help us de-stress as a result. The next time you need to relieve stress quickly, try hanging out in one of these postures for a few minutes, or if yoga isn’t your thing, simply move your body by taking a quick walk around your neighborhood.

5. Write It Out to Relieve Stress Quickly

Close up woman hand writing on notebook

Often, we feel stressed when our mind is cluttered with frantic thoughts and a never-ending to-do list. Writing things down on paper — whether it’s your to-do list, your short-term and long-term goals, or just the thoughts that have been plaguing you recently — can help you organize your mind and provide some relief from overwhelm.

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The Author
Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and journalist. She enjoys long walks, iced coffee on tap, and discovering all the latest and greatest health and wellness trends.