Sure, summer is supposed to be the most carefree time of the year, but oftentimes, the stress of traveling, non-stop weddings—and, you know, all the work that doesn’t just magically disappear once the sun comes out—can pile up. Here’s how to instantly de-stress in 10 minutes, so you can spend more time actually enjoying the summer.
1. Take a Walk
The easiest way to beat stress is to walk away from the immediate source. Even if you only have five minutes to spare, get up and take a quick stroll to gather your thoughts, get your blood flowing and release mood-boosting endorphins.
Just five minutes of meditating will lower your heart rate and blood pressure and relax your muscles. To get started, find a quiet place to sit and try to clear your mind of any thoughts. Then focus on one thing — your breathing, a picture in your head or repeating a mantra. Still having trouble? Follow an app, like iMindfulness, to keep you on track.
3. Pour Some Tea
Decaffeinated green tea is soothing because it contains theanine, an amindo acid that promotes relaxation. Avoid caffeinated versions because they can worsen stress.
4. Take Deep Breaths
Only have one minute? Stop whatever you’re doing, close your eyes and focus on your breath as it goes in and out.
5. Make a To-Do List
Running down a long list of deadlines in your head is the worst thing you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Instead, choose the three most important tasks and jot them down. Work on one at a time and check them off as you go. If you have time leftover, plop down a few more and keep going.
6. Pick Up a Trashy Novel
Ok, well it doesn’t have to be trashy. Reading any type of fiction will take your mind away from the present and essentially allow you to enter a new world. Sometimes, a little distraction is all you need.
7. Get in Some Pet Time
A study done by the University of Buffalo found that subjects who spent time with a cat or dog during times of high stress (the subjects were stockbrokers, go figure), their blood pressure was lowered. So grab your pet and get in some quick cuddle time. Don’t have a furry friend of your own? Take a trip to the local shelter.
8. Light a Lavender Candle
Light a lavender candle right before bed to help relax and clear your mind. A study by researchers at the University of Miami followed brain activity with an EEG machine, finding that those who were subjected to lavender aromatherapy showed brainwaves associated with drowsiness. The subjects also felt less depressed and had a mood boost.
9. Eat Chocolate
When you’re stressed you have low serotonin, a brain chemical that controls calmness. Sweet and starchy foods, such as chocolate, pretzels and ice cream, actually boost serotonin levels which in turn relaxes the body. A trial published in the Journal of Proteome Research found that eating an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks helps to reduce levels of stress hormones.
10. Listen to Music
A 2010 study by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that subjects who listened to their favorite music had better circulation as a result. Their blood vessels actually opened wider — slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, relaxing the muscles and creating an overall feeling of relaxation. Interesting word of advice: no matter how much you love a song, don’t put it on repeat. The doctors claimed that listening to the same song over and over will decrease the effects.
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