Pretty much everyone’s stressed out. In a recent survey, one out of every four respondents said they’d experienced a “great deal” of stress in the last month, and only one out of every seven said they’d had none at all (and we demand to know who those people are, and what they’re on). But no matter how crazy things feel, you don’t have to escape to a mountaintop hermitage to unwind. Practice any one of these tips each day, and you’ll find yourself feeling more relaxed.
Unplug. Turn off your computer monitor, and set your phone to airplane mode, even just for a few minutes. It’s okay! Everything will still be there when you get back. And with so many demands pulling your attention in a hundred different directions, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling apart. If you can leave the phone alone while you try out these tips, you’ll get much more out of them.
Relax your muscles to relax the mind. Progressive muscle relaxation is a simple physical technique that can offer huge psychological benefits. All you have to do is tense a set of muscles for five seconds, release them for thirty, and then move on to another muscle group. Many people like to start at their toes, and work their way up. This exercise focuses the mind, drawing your thoughts away from the usual to-do lists and wait-did-I’s. Since you work your way through every muscle in the body, this exercise also has the effect of releasing muscles that you didn’t even know that you had been tensing up. In the end you’ll have a body that feels relaxed and loose, and a clear mind.
Take yourself for a walk in the park. One study has shown that just five minutes of exercise in a green space—like a park, or a back yard rich with vegetation—will result in an immediate improvement in your mood and feelings of wellbeing. Getting longer, more intense exercise on a regular basis is also known to be one of the most effective ways to manage stress.
Try aromatherapy. Even if you really don’t have time to do anything else on this list (are you sure? Even just five minutes?), aromatherapy can at least do some good in the background while you carry on with your hectic schedule.