5 Ways to Relax When You’re Stressed

Knowing how to relax is vital for your health and well-being.


By Debra DiPietro


Stress. It is a part of modern life. If we let it, stress can lead to all kinds of health issues including headaches, anxiety, stomach aches, chest pain, and elevated blood pressure.

Ideally, we have built in time on a daily basis to do activities that counteract the stress we are all under such as: taking walks, regular visits to a gym, yoga, spending time at a park, writing in our journals, and meditation.

There are days, however, when we are just too busy with work or family duties to get that much needed health break. There may also be circumstances (like when we get stuck in traffic, we encounter a rude person unexpectedly, or our two year old decides to have a tantrum in the grocery store) when it would be helpful to have a few tools that we can pull out to get centered fast.

There are many things we can do that just take a few minutes (or even seconds) that will get us relaxed and back on our game in no time.

Here are five ways that we can relax quickly (in five minutes or less).

1. Stretch. From head to toe, stretch your body. There are many stretches that you can do while driving your car, sitting at your desk, or waiting in line or standing on a subway.

2. Breathe. Simply becoming aware of and focusing on our breathing can relax us very quickly. We become present and focused on the moment. We have to slow down enough to focus on breathing in and out. Wherever you are or whatever you are doing, breathe in to the count of five and out to the count of five.

Then breathe in to the count of ten and out to the count of ten. Be sure to completely fill your lungs and then let out as much air as you can. Breathe for a few minutes like this and you will feel like a new person.

3. Laugh. Laughter meditation is awesome. If you have not tried it, it’s time you do so. Whether you feel like it or not, laugh for one or two minutes. Keep laughing out loud until your set time is up. Laughing really gets our feel good endorphins going in our body. Do this meditation with a friend, partner, or colleague.

4. Walk. Even if it is just walking up and down a few flights of stairs in your office building, you will feel better. You will get your heart rate up a bit and get some much needed blood circulating (if you have been sitting at your desk). Better yet, take a quick stroll outside. A few minutes of fresh air and sunshine ( vitamin D) will do your body and spirit a lot of good.

Connecting with the natural world even for a few minutes provides benefits.

5. Imagine a happy place. When feeling stressed, imagine a happy relaxing scene. It might be sipping a Piña Colada on a beach on the Caribbean or hiking the mountains in the Colorado Rockies. Close your eyes and imagine that you are in your happy place. In a few minutes you will be refreshed and ready to return to the “real world.”

Stress is an inevitable part of life. It is our choice how we deal with it. You can remain centered and productive during even one of your crazy hectic days if you learn how to relax quickly. You can be the calm in the storm. Perhaps the storm will then take its cue from you and dissipate into a more peaceful state.

Debra struggled with anxiety and insomnia for many years. About five years ago, she started a blog, The Warm Milk Journal, as a way to reach out to others who may be having the same struggles. The Warm Milk Journal has become a popular resource for people in need of a good night sleep and recently won Success Magazine's BlogStar award. Debra holds degrees in communications, law, and education. When she is not blogging she is a social media specialist for a large automotive group company in the Jacksonville, Florida area. When not working, you may find Debra walking on the beach or sweating it out at a nearby Bikram studio.

Main Photo Credit: Marcin Balcerzak/; Second Photo Credit: Antonio Guillem/; Third Photo Credit: lzf/