Breathe, you got this.
The washing machine has broken, you’ve got 4 voicemails (don’t voicemails make you nervous?) and your new pleated skirt is splattered with this morning’s Starbucks. And let’s face it, a decaf macchiato will definitely leave a stain. So in other words, you’re in need of some serious down time.
When we’re feeling a little frazzled, it can sometimes seem like only a long, leisurely spa weekend will sort you out. But we can’t all bugger off to Bannatynes, so what’s a girl to do?
Fortunately, we’ve listed our favourite ways to relax, each of which can be done in under five glorious minutes. If you’re feeling stressed but pressed for time, this one’s for you – these clever tactics will help you calm down even when times get tough.
For the Mind
1. Try Meditation
Okay, so it sounds cheesy but we’ll bet you our last bag of Little Oats it works. No need to head for a Buddhist retreat; five minutes of peace is all it takes to find your chill. Studies show that just two quick bouts of silent meditation per day can relieve stress and depression. Find a comfortable, quiet place, concentrate on your breathing, and feel those anxieties start to fade.2. Be progressive, not aggressive
If somethin’s got you stressin’, just squeeze, release and repeat. This technique is called progressive relaxation and involves tensing the muscles in one body part at a time to achieve a state of focused calm. Have trouble sleeping? This one’s a great one to try at bedtime.3. Believe it or not, but count backwards
This is not a test – but it is a great way to relax. And it’s harder than you think. Pick a random number above 500 and count backwards. With your mind busy trying to remember what comes next, you’ll soon forget about the butterflies in your belly.
For the Soul
4. Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Grab a ball and a chair, and balance your feet on the ball. Now roll it round in slow, deliberate circles. The concentration to make a perfect “O” on the ground will take your mind off your troubles, and the blood will flow to your feet and legs, taking it away from your head and chest.5. Be a daydreamer
You. Gerard Butler. A beautiful beach. He turns to you, says how much he loves you and then reaches for… Sorry, time’s up! These little daydreams are known as creative visualisations. It’s an instant mood-boost when we’re feeling tense, helping to detach the mind from a hectic day.6. Be cool, calm and collected
If you’re feeling anxious, pop into the bathroom. Take five minutes to hold your wrists under cool running water, wetting behind your earlobes too. In each of these places there are major arteries running right underneath the skin, so cooling these areas can help calm the whole body.
7. Sort your life out
Ok, so this is easier said than done in five minutes. But you can organise your immediate surroundings in that time – and that’s what we’re talking about. Clutter can contribute to stress, so if your bedroom or desk is a mess, take the time to tidy up. You’ll soon feel instantly better.8. Enjoy a little me time
Just take five minutes to be alone. You don’t need a cabin in the woods, just a peaceful spot where you can collect your thoughts and calm your head. Concentrate on your breathing and feel the bad things in life just ebb away.9.Be a sun seeker
If it’s a sunny day, head outside and soak it up. Even just a few minutes basking in the sunshine will lift your Vitamin D levels and warm your body. Bright light is sometimes used a treatment for people who suffer from depression; the sun makes us happy – it’s science.
Food and Drink
10. Sip green or herbal tea
Okay, we would say that wouldn’t we? But seriously, green and herbal teas are a great source of l-theanine, a chemical that helps relieve anger. If there’s steam coming out of your ears, grab a bag, brew up and sip slowly - and leave the steaming to the kettle.11. Don’t be mad, just eat a mango
Peel, slice and munch on chunks of juicy mango. This tantalisingly tropical fruit is full of linalool, a stress-busting chemical that’s even more effective when you smell it – so don’t be afraid to take a big whiff before each bite.12. Just a spoonful of sugar…
There’s a reason it makes the medicine go down. Do NOT eat a spoonful of sugar – but DO try a teaspoon of honey. Natural honey is packed with compounds that are proven to reduce inflammation in the brain, helping fight depression and anxiety. Replace your stress with sweetness!
13. Belt it out
Play your favourite song, as loud as you can. Sing along, whether it’s Beyonce, Busted or Justin bloomin’ Bieber – just belt it out and you’ll feel instantly relaxed. When we sing, our bodies release endorphins and oxytocin, both of which activate pleasure receptors in the brain. La, la, laaa!14. Dear Diary…
Let it all out – on paper. There’s a reason us humans like to rant, and doing so privately can feel just as good… Plus, your best friend gets a bit of a break. Putting your emotions or worry down on paper is therapeutic; it makes them seem less intimidating and ultimately, easier to deal with.15. You are a dancing queen…
Young and sweet, only 17. And with not a care in the world! In the same way as singing, dancing reduces stress - it’s an outlet for emotional expression. It’s a positive way to channel your energy and a great bonding activity if you do it with friends. Get your dancing shoes on and watch your spirits soar.
Hopefully by now you’re feeling so relaxed, you're totally horizontal. Don't forget, different things work for different people - some like a long dog walk, a trip to the hairdressers or even just an early night.
Remember, the key to a laid-back lifestyle is by taking care of your mind, body and soul. You can do that through good nutrition and daily activity – if you need some help getting started why not try our specially designed Eating Plan or 12-Week Bikini Plans?