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Quickest Ways to Relieve Stress Right Now

[Originally appeared on client website; link no longer available.]

Your boss is sending an urgent request, your spouse texted to say one of your kids got in trouble at school and you forgot to get the meat out of the freezer for dinner. Quick! How can you stop yourself from freaking out?

Check out these techniques. One of them is bound to help bring your stress level down.

1. Take a deep breath.

Stop and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, close your eyes, inhale slowly through your nose and then exhale twice as slowly through your mouth. Repeat for five minutes or until you feel better. Deep breathing lowers your blood pressure and slows the heart rate.

2. Chew gum.

Pop a piece of gum in your mouth. The act of chewing increases blood flow to the brain, which may reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels, which is the chemical the body produces when it gets stressed.

3. Eat chocolate.

If gum isn’t your thing, eat a piece of dark chocolate. It also helps calm your nerves and balances cortisol levels. Plus, it tastes good.

4. Turn on the jams.

Listening to your favorite music can help you decompress. If you’re at work, you may want to put on headphones. If you’re at home, crank it up and start dancing.

5. Get up and move.

If you can’t dance because you’re at work, you can still get up and take a walk down the hall or around the building. Exercise releases endorphins. You may not have time for a full workout, but moving gets the blood flowing and may help relax tense muscles.

6. Have a tea party.

Green tea is a great source of L-Theanine, an amino acid that may have calming effects. Researchers have found that drinking black tea can also make you more relaxed, plus it’s packed with antioxidants.

7. Laugh out loud.

Having a good laugh will lower your stress levels. If you don’t have someone nearby who can tell you a funny joke, do a search for YouTube videos of your favorite comedian or cats doing funny things.

8. Make a list.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the to-do list in your head, grab a pen and notepad and write it down. Getting it out on paper may make it appear more manageable, which will definitely make you feel better.

9. Do a puzzle.

Grab today’s paper and do the crossword or Sudoku. Concentrating on something other than what’s stressing you out can help relieve stress. Also, you’re getting a little brain workout. Don’t have the paper? Download a puzzle app for your phone.

10. Give yourself a hand massage.

Massage relaxes you and lowers your stress level. If you spend a lot of time typing, a hand massage will give your muscles a nice break. Try kneading the base of the muscle under the thumb because it can relieve stress in the shoulders, neck, and scalp.