5 Ways to Reduce Stress in 5 Minutes

Dr. Janet Zand

July 17, 2020

 

 
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If you’ve been feeling more stress or anxiety lately, you aren’t alone.

In fact, a study from May found that more than 1 in 3 adults have signs of clinical anxiety or depression right now.

And it’s no wonder, since the last few months have been full of uncertainty, physical isolation from loved ones, and, for many, a loss of routine and purpose.

However, it’s critical that you find ways to bring down your stress levels. Stress takes a dangerous physical toll on your entire body, including:

Depressing your immune system, weakening your ability to fight off disease or infections.

Increasing your risk of heart attack. Stress can directly increase heart rate and blood flow, and causes the release of cholesterol and triglycerides into your bloodstream. Stress can also skyrocket your blood pressure, and it may stay high as that stress continues.

Speeding up the aging process, by causing cells to age faster and die younger. (And did you know that stress really can make your hair turn gray? It’s not just a silly thing your parents said!)

…and more.

So how can you reduce stress at home right now… even if you don’t have much time?

Here are my top 5 ways to reduce stress in 5 minutes or less:

1. Give your brain a “reset.” All you have to do is stop for a minute, recognize that you’re feeling stressed, and ask yourself why you’re feeling that way.

If there’s not a particular problem you can identify, then maybe you just need to take a short break from what you’re doing.

If the stress is from a long-term problem you can’t immediately solve, try another one of the quick relaxer tips below. Either way, the simple step of stopping and recognizing that you’re stressed gives you the opportunity to reset your mind.

2. Chew gum. One study found that chewing gum for three minutes — particularly scented gum — can lower your stress response. And really chomp down on it! The research shows that you have to chew vigorously to get stress relief.

3. Quick aromatherapy session. Inhaling essential oils can help calm the mind in times of stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Some of my favorite stress-reducing oils include lavender, chamomile, jasmine, and rose oil. Simply apply three drops onto a cotton pad and breathe it in deeply 10 times. You can also purchase a diffuser for your room or desk so that it constantly releases a calming scent.

4. Stretch. Just a few minutes of stretching, even if you’re sitting at a desk, can provide stress relief. Research also suggests that a bit of exercise in the workday can relieve both physical and mental stress.

5. Make a stress-relieving drink. Put 1/4 of a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water and drink up. Matcha tea is another great option. It contains a compound called L-theanine, which can lower your stress levels.

There are also several supplements that can help reduce stress and anxiety. The ones I recommend to my patients are:

L-theanine (on its own)

L-taurine

Ashwagandha

Passionflower

Lemon balm

And if you need more help managing your stress levels, please ask for help from a qualified health professional.

You should also seek help right away if you have suicidal thoughts, feel you can’t cope, or are using drugs or alcohol more frequently as a result of stress. Your doctor may be able to provide a recommendation.

Let me know how these suggestions work for you, and take care.

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