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12 Quick Stress-Relief Techniques for a Busy life

We all know about the classic relaxation tips like meditation, weightlifting, or a much needed vacation, but the truth is they’re not practical or realistic for a lot of people.

For the 9-to-5 crowd, the overwhelmed parents, or those juggling multiple jobs, any activity that requires time, money and energy often feels like a luxury. So, you may be wondering… what are some quick and easy ways to relax?

Here are the top 12 hacks to help you wind down in the midst of a busy life.

Eat Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate pieces on a cutting board.
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Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which releases dopamine in the brain. As such, a tablet of dark chocolate is beneficial for your health, boosts your happy hormones, and also feels like a treat in the middle of a hectic day. Just make sure to combine dark chocolate with other ways to relax, for a balanced lifestyle.

Play with a Stress Ball

Man playing with stress ball while working at computer.
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Stress balls are especially useful to keep at work. Anytime you find yourself checking the clock for your shift’s end, or wondering when your next holiday will be, you can just grab the stress ball and wrangle out the tension.

Splash Cold Water Over Your Face

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Whether you’re at work or at home craving some timeout, splashing cold water over your face will refresh you and calm your nerves. The principle behind this is cryotherapy, which refers to the use of cold temperatures to shock the nervous system out of negative thought loops. 

Drink Green Tea

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Regularly drinking tea is a great habit to add to your life. As long as you have a few minutes available, you can brew your favorite delicious teas and savor the drink in a mindful way.

A few relaxing teas you can try are green tea, chamomile, lavender or rooibos. Green tea is especially beneficial, as it can lower cholesterol, improve cognitive function, reduce skin aging, and even help with weight loss.

Recite ABCs Backwards

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Perhaps not the first relaxing activity that comes to mind, but reciting the ABC backwards is actually an exercise that requires focus and mindfulness. As such, it distracts you from any impending work meetings, outstanding tasks, or household chores.

Breathing Exercises

stressed woman on sofa in living room breathing deep and trying to calm down.
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A 2010 study found that controlled breathing therapy lowers cortisol levels. In other words, a quick breathing exercise in between errands or meetings can alleviate your nerves and ground you in a more relaxed state. A few breathing techniques you can try are box breathing, the 7/11 breathing technique, or alternate nostril breathing.

Fragrances for Relaxation

Dried Lavender bouquet in kitchen.
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You can use aromatherapy for relaxation by lighting incense sticks or scented candles, adding essential oils to a diffuser, or just applying perfume on your wrist. Scent is subjective, so feel free to experiment and explore until you find which notes you find more soothing. Lavender, mint, frankincense, and lemon are easy favorites.

Play with a Fidget Toy

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Having a toy or item at hand to fiddle with is a fun hack for when you’re feeling stressed or distraught. Anything from a fidget spinner, a slinky, or even those telephone-cord hair ties can be practical for releasing some tension in a quick minute.

Stretch Your Muscles

Contented happy business woman stretches in her chair at work.
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Stretching your muscles is an activity you can do anywhere. Muscle stretching alleviates muscle tension, and research shows that it lowers blood pressure. 

Whether you’re in the middle of an extended meeting, hanging out on your couch, or writing an essay at a cafe, stretching your arms and rolling your neck or shoulders might just be the break you need to continue your work.

Massage Your Hands

woman massaging her own hand.
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A 2012 study shows that simply massaging your hands for five minutes can help you relax by shifting your awareness to your body, and into the present moment. If you don’t like carrying journals, fidget toys, sweets, or any of the previously mentioned items, a hand massage is a great hack that you can do anytime, anywhere.

Chew Gum

Cheerful woman with headphones around neck blowing a bubble while chewing gum.
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In case you need another reason to pop out your favorite minty or fruity bubblegum, here’s a tasty hack. According to research in 2015, chewing gum can positively affect mood, and increase productivity. Next time you need a quick pick-me-up, give this one a try.

Doodle and Disconnect

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Keeping a sketchbook nearby to doodle in when the mood strikes allows your mind to wander off and disconnect from daily stress. You can draw anything you want! It’s for nobody else but you. You can doodle random shapes, fill out a coloring book or draw cute cats. The sky's the limit.

Journaling for Stress Relief

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Author: S.K. Lumen

Title: Writer

Expertise: women's personal development, mental health, self love

S.K. Lumen is a writer, artist and blogger who is passionate about helping women become their best selves. She writes about personal development, self-love, self-care, wellness & mental health.