Relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms and help you enjoy a better quality of life, especially if you have an illness. Explore relaxation techniques you can do by yourself.
Relax. You deserve it, it’s good for you, and it takes less time than you think.
You don’t need a spa weekend or a retreat. Each of these stress-relieving tips can get you from OMG to om in less than 15 minutes.
Wear a Calming Color
It’s true: Certain colors help you relax, but first you need to consider your personality, says Davidji, author of next month’s Destressifying: The Real-World Guide to Personal Empowerment, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind. If you’re a type-A personality, water-like colors such as blue and green will soothe you. “Anything with water helps our minds connect and calm down,” Davidji says. If you’re more laid-back, go for earth tones and pastels. Surround yourself with these hues, whether by decorating your bedroom or office with them or by throwing on a blouse in your calming color when you feel a stressful day on the horizon.
Delete Facebook from Your Phone
It may sound tough, but hear us out. Technology is one of the main causes of anxiety and stress, Meadows says. “If we’re constantly distracted, it’s very difficult to focus on the present moment, enjoy the little things, and slow down,” he says. To squeeze more relaxing moments into your day, don’t use social media on your phone at all, he suggests. It’ll give you more opportunities to recharge your batteries—interruption free. Don’t worry, it’ll still be there on your desktop.
Build Relaxation into Your Morning Routine
Jumping out of bed at the sound of your alarm may sound efficient, but it could set you up for stress. Instead, start each day with 10 to 15 minutes of relaxation, Meadows says. Taking the time to meditate, journal, or simply enjoy the quiet helps you gear up for the day, so you’re ready to tackle whatever’s on your plate.
Get a Whiff of Orange or Rose Oil
Step aside for a second, lavender. Next time you’re feeling tense and on edge, call on orange or rose oil. Smelling these essential oils leads to relaxation of the body and mind, according to a Complementary Therapies in Medicine study. Try beauty products infused with the calming scents, like Laura Mercier’s Infusion de Rose Nourishing Oil or Thalgo’s In the Cascade of Scents Relaxing Precious Oil. Or add a few drops of the essential oil to your body lotion to usher in feelings of calm as you moisturize
Try a 16-Second Stress Buster
Got 16 seconds? We thought so. It’s a short amount of time that promises to help you relax in a big way. First, think about the thing that’s been bothering you over the past week or so, Davidji says. Then, breathe in and visualize your breath coming into your belly. Hold it there, and then watch it rise to your throat and release out your nose. This 16-second technique helps make you calmer and more present, he says.
Hang with Your BFF
You instinctively call her when you’re feeling down, and there’s a scientific reason for it. Being around your bestie creates a buffer from the stress hormone cortisol, according to a Developmental Psychology study. Chances are she could go for a chill-out sesh too.
Crack a Smile
Happy or not, the simple act of smiling could instantly put you in a more relaxed mood. Those who smiled in a Psychological Science study had lower heart rates after a stressful event compared to those who held their faces in a neutral position. Translation? Smiling can reduce the way the body processes stress. Bonus: You’ll get the reputation as the friendly chick who grins even in the grocery store aisle.
We all have that emotional tip-off—whether it’s a pain in our stomachs or a tightness in our shoulders—that we feel in high-anxiety moments, just before we say or do the wrong thing. “At least once a day, we say or do something that’s not our best version of self, and that’s in response to stress,” Davidji says. When you feel that trigger, practice his five-second SODA technique, which he’s taught to police officers across the country. Here’s how: Stop, observe the situation as if you’re checking it out from above, lean back in your chair or onto your heels to physically detach yourself. “In those five seconds, you’re not as emotionally charged, so you can act and speak with greater grace,” he says. The technique calms your nerves and prevents you from saying or doing something that’ll cause more stress down the line.