When you think your alarm has gone off six hours early, but it’s hasn’t, and your day involves the following: all the things that are annoying, time-consuming and irritating, it’s easy to head straight to Stress Town. Only, you can’t go chill out somewhere because you’re babysitting the younger sib all afternoon, ‘reffing two netball games, playing one and then memorising the periodic table for tomorrow’s test.
So, since we can see your eye twitching, terrible period pains, stiff jaw, weirdo dreams and general irritations (PS – all sneaky signs of super stress), we have these 5 minute fixes.
1. Eat a banana-filled jacket potato
Well, maybe not. But separate, potatoes and bananas are great stress-buster snacks. The potassium in both help to lower blood pressure, which rises when you’re stressed-out, and it’ll improve the energy stress has sapped.
Obviously, pick appropriate times for this (mid final exam is probably not amazing timing), but kissing releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) to give your body a happy boost to help stress leave. Pucker up!
3. Get Visual
Spend the next 300 seconds, wherever you are, picturing the most peaceful scenario you can. According the US’s National Institute for Health, guided imagery gives your body a relaxation response, almost as if you really are being bear-hugged by Zac Efron and Cody Simpson at the same time.
4. Just breathe
Telling you to breathe is like telling you to pee: we don’t really need to. But unlike peeing, knowing how to breathe isn’t so well known. Taking just a few minutes to breathe deeply and really notice the breath going in and out is kinda like meditating and relaxes the body and mind almost straight away.
5. Ring in a friend
Getting stuff off your chest to a pal is pretty helpful to de-stress. Calling up the bestie to have a bit of b*tch about your day can a) stop it festering inside and b) give you a new perspective. Maybe your brother eating the last Oreo wasn’t that devastating.Granted, this might take more than 5 minutes.
6. Sniff stuff
Not like, a bus seat or anything… That’d be weird. But some smells have instant de-stressing benefits. Aromatherapy oils like lavender and peppermint are soothing and will keep you focused when you’re in a stress fog. If you don’t have a scented candle handy, smelling apples is said to lift headaches!
7. Smoosh your face
Face massages are excellent quick-fixes for tension headaches and all you need are your own two hands. There are a bunch of YouTube how-to vids on stress relief massages, but start by using your thumbs underneath your eyebrows and do small firm but careful circles until the pain starts slipping away.
8. Crack open a window
Between classroom, bedroom and everything else that requires us indoors (most things), you can go whole days without more than a few hours of fresh air and eyeball contact with the great outdoors. According to a University of Washington study, a natural setting, even if just out a window, regulates heart rate and brings down stress levels.
9. Pick yourself flowers
Alright so a Harvard study showing self-gifted flowers lowered anxiety and depression was based on having flowers sent to you, by you. But since we only have 5 minutes (and the $8 an hour weekend gig is probably not going to get you far), we decided picking yourself a small bouquet would do just the same thing. Be careful not to ruin next-door’s prize roses, though.
10. Stop, drop and de-reel
According to stress relief expert author Kate Hanley, just stopping what you’re doing for a few minutes can cool down your stress-o-metre during studying. Her three steps: keep both feet on the floor and pop forearms on the edge of the desk or table. Push your chair back so spine is extended. Rest forehead on your arms for a few minutes, close your eyes and just breathe.
11. Let there be light
The New York University School of Medicine feels very strongly that you should expose your retina (thin lining of the surface of the eye) to a wee bit of sunlight every other day. Don’t go staring at the sun or anything, but taking a 20 minute stroll in the sunshine three times a week without sunnies will reduce stress, they say.
12. Swear… to yourself
So, the parentals might not be so stoked about this one but it has been leaked that dropping a few swear bombs is good for you. Not necessarily swearing at who or what is annoying you, but in the privacy of your own company, its said to make you feel like you’ve lifted the irritating burden off your shoulders – and everyone else is nonethewiser.
13. Get to forgivin’
Ever have full fake convos to that person who was annoying, rude or nasty to you…six months ago? Especially if you’re already stressy. Well, according to Hope College in Michigan, if you take a few secs to just go ahead and fully forgive someone, you get instant inner-peace. In your mind say ‘I honestly wish the very best for you’ to your nemesis. Namaste, stress.
14. Dance in the rain
Seriously. Get a raincoat and go pretend you’re a kid for 5 minutes. Just the smell of rain is said to lower stress levels, and dancing releases ten gazillion feel-good hormones through your body. So simple math says: add one with the other and you have a fast train to stress-free-town.
15. Squeeze your ears
Apparently our ears have little reflex points that give insta-calm when lightly squeezed. Use your fingers and thumbs to rub your earlobes, then cup them with your palm, fold your fingers in toward your ear and rest the thumbs behind your earlobe, gently squeeze. Adios, tension headache.