Ever wish a stress superhero could save you from the tension of traffic jams, chaotic meetings, arguments with your spouse, or a toddler’s tantrums? You can be that hero by learning to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening. Learning this skill takes time, experimentation, and practice—but the payoff is huge. You can stay calm, productive, and focused when you know how to quickly relieve stress.
What is the fastest way to relieve stress?
There are countless techniques for managing stress. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and exercise are just a few examples of stress-relieving activities that work wonders. But in the heat of the moment, during a high-pressured job interview, for example, or a disagreement with your spouse, you can’t just excuse yourself to meditate or take a long walk. In these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible.
One of the speediest and most reliable ways to stamp out stress is to engage one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch—or through movement. But since everyone is different, you’ll need to do some experimenting to discover which technique works best for you.
Explore a variety of sensory experiences so that no matter where you are, you’ll always have a tool to relieve stress.
The examples listed below are intended to be a jumping-off point. Let your imagination run free and come up with additional things to try. When you find the right sensory technique, you’ll know it!
Look at a cherished photo or a favorite memento.
Use a plant or flowers to enliven your work space.
Enjoy the beauty of nature: a garden, the beach, a park, or your own backyard.
Surround yourself with colors that lift your spirits.
Close your eyes and picture a place that feels peaceful and rejuvenating.
Light a scented candle or burn some incense.
Experiment with different essential oils.
Smell the roses or another type of flower.
Enjoy clean, fresh air in the great outdoors.
Spritz on your favorite perfume or cologne.
Wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
Pet a dog or cat.
Hold a comforting object (a stuffed animal, a favorite memento).
Give yourself a hand or neck massage.
Wear clothing that feels soft against your skin.
Slowly savoring a favorite treat can be very relaxing, but mindless eating will only add to your stress and your waistline. The key is to indulge your sense of taste mindfully and in moderation.
Chew a piece of sugarless gum.
Indulge in a small piece of dark chocolate.
Sip a steaming cup of coffee or tea or a refreshing cold drink.
Eat a perfectly ripe piece of fruit.
Enjoy a healthy, crunchy snack (celery, carrots, or trail mix).
If you tend to shut down when you’re under stress or have experienced trauma, stress-relieving activities that get you moving may be particularly helpful.
Run in place or jump up and down.
Stretch or roll your head in circles.
Go for a short walk.
Squeeze a rubbery stress ball.
Sing or hum a favorite tune. Listen to uplifting music.
Tune in to the soundtrack of nature—crashing waves, the wind rustling the trees, birds singing.
Buy a small fountain, so you can enjoy the soothing sound of running water in your home or office.
Hang wind chimes near an open window.