15 Ways to Relax in 5 Minutes
When you only have a few minutes to relax, use them! It’s not very often that I have time to take a long, luxurious bubble bath– or even want to use my time to indulge in such a way– and I’m guessing that many of you feel the same. When you need to de-stress from mom life but can’t slow down, try any of these 15 working mom tips & tricks to relax in just 5 minutes– or less!
1. Cup of Tea
Tea is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of releasing tension, and there’s good reason for that. It’s inexpensive, simple to make, and you can feel a difference in the first few sips. Herbal blends with chamomile or lavender get the most press for promoting relaxation, but you’re not limited to those two flavors.
My go-to is Yerba Mate, a hot tea that is known for providing an energy boost. Unlike coffee, which can give me a jittery, intense burst of energy, this tea calms me down to the point where I can focus better on whatever I’m working on.
2. Walk it Off
In a stressful situation at home or at work, remove yourself for a few minutes and get outside for a walk. Breathe in that fresh air and feel your jumble of thoughts untangle with each step.
When you’re pressed for time, walking is your best bet. Unlike running or an intense workout class, you can go straight back to your routine without needing to change clothes before and after or shower.
3. Phone a Friend
This works for more reasons than one.
• It’s a mental break from what you’re working on. All of those things that were stressing you out a minute ago can be forgotten while you focus on catching up with your gal pal and hearing about her life.
• Supporting someone else makes you feel good. Reaching out to someone and showing interest in their daily goings-on is a great way to show you care, and that kindness and support will not go unnoticed– or unreturned.
• Complaining is a nice release. If you won’t say it, I will. It just feels good sometimes to vent and let it all out. Most of the time I don’t expect my friends to have a mind-blowing solution to whatever is stressing me out, but the simple act of talking to someone about it seems to lessen the weight of my stress. If nothing else, we can both complain and help each other see the humor in it all.
• It’s inspiring! Call someone up and say, “Tell me some good news!” Sometimes it’s the mompreneurs on my podcasts, and sometimes it’s friends and family, but hearing about others’ successes is inspiring!
Writing can be so incredibly therapeutic. Even if you’ve never found joy in writing, put your past conceptions aside because journaling may be your new favorite pastime.
Don’t think “Dear Diary…”
Instead, try writing down the things you’d like to accomplish today, this week, in the next six months. Make a list of the things you have already accomplished this week, last month, in the last six years. Doodle!
5. Queue Up the Ultimate Playlist
I challenge you to not feel more relaxed in five minutes or less when you have your favorite music playing. Shake off the dust from those high school classics and sing at the top of your lungs when no one is around. It’s not just athletes that need to be pumped up. Figure out your fight song (if one didn’t come to mind immediately) and use it to rally against fatigue, stress, and days when you would just rather be at the beach.
6. Focused Breathing
A quick tip I learned from a licensed therapist is that you physically can’t feel panicked if your breathing is in control. If you feel like you’re spiraling in the middle of the day, are having a hard time falling asleep, or just need to get centered, try this quick breathing exercise wherever you are:
Breathe in while you slowly count to 3, then breathe out for 4 slow counts. Inhale 1…2…3… Exhale 1…2…3…4…. and repeat until you feel completely calm. It will happen!
While you count slowly in your head, you’re distracting yourself from the negative thoughts, and the slow, deep breaths will instantly relax you. I love this one because it flies completely under the radar and is virtually unnoticeable by those around me. It is also a great way to begin a meditation session.
7. Pull Out the Foam Roller
If you’ve used a foam roller before, I’m sure you understand exactly why this little activity made the list. It’s a favored tool by those who exercise regularly because it helps break up lactic acid buildup from previous workouts while also getting you loosened up for the next training session. You don’t need to hit the gym every day to experience the benefits of foam rolling, however.
Rolling out your muscles for a few minutes every day can have the same effect as a massage. You might not realize how tight your muscles have gotten from stress or sitting down for long periods of time. Using a foam roller can give you a deeper stretch than doing without, and help posture, blood flow, and the aches and pains of daily life.
8. Look Over Photo Albums
What else can instantly put you in a good mood like seeing all of those happy memories you stored in photo albums? With all of the technology that has come along, actual printed pictures aren’t as popular anymore, but it’s a habit I won’t let go of. I love looking back on forgotten moments from vacations and first days of school, and my kids really get a kick out of it, too. It still works if your pictures are saved on your computer or phone. After all, if you’re going to use most of your phone storage for pictures you might as well take the time to go back and enjoy them!
9. Look Over Favorite Quotes
I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for quotes; a sort of amazement at how someone could take so much wisdom, inspiration, or profundity and squeeze it into a cleverly worded little sentence. I jot down the quotes that have stuck out to me for one reason or another in my journal, on post-its that dot my desk, or clip them from magazines and newspapers to look back on when I need to remember:
• why I work so hard at the things I love
• other people have failed and struggled before reaching their goals
• some of my problems are not as big as they seem, and they can be overcome
• love is real and it is out there for me
If you haven’t started collecting quotes yet, check out Pinterest and Instagram for some of their many quote accounts.
10. Furry Friends
Petting your dog or cat may seem like it’s for their benefit, but doctors say it is one of the most efficient stress relievers around. If you’re an animal lover, then it already brings you joy to be around your furry friend, but did you know that taking time out to give Fido a belly rub can not only lift your spirits, but lower blood pressure and release a relaxation hormone? And admit it, it feels good to have someone who is always excited to see you no matter what.
Whether you want to relax or not, there are certain smells that just do the trick. Light a candle, turn on an essential oil diffuser, or lather your hands with an aromatherapeutic moisturizer.
For a more on-the-go solution, I love Aveda’s stress-fix roller ball that I can keep in my purse and discreetly apply to my wrists, behind my ears, and under my nose whenever I feel stress levels rising.
12. Mint Gum
The peppermint herb can have great health benefits when used in teas and tinctures, but don’t overlook mint gum. It might seem like a simple, everyday item, but mint gum can be your secret weapon in stressful situations. Chewing can release some of that tense energy, and the scent of mint is calming. For those prone to stress eating, try chomping on sugar-free gum to avoid consuming mindless calories– a habit that would stress you out more in the long run.
13. Self Massage
I never realize how sore my hands are until I get a massage, and wow what a difference it makes! Massage has long been the poster child of relaxation, but it doesn’t have to be the book-in-advance, expensive, time-consuming outing that you might be thinking of. Try devoting five minutes to just your hands. Take some coconut oil, vitamin E oil, or a glob of moisturizer and really work into that meaty area of your palm between thumb and pointer finger. For the most part, you will just know what feels good, but it doesn’t hurt to Google the location of pressure points so you can hit on those.
For your feet, find a small, dense ball. Golf balls or lacrosse balls work well, but a tennis ball has too much give. Position it under your arch while standing and slowly roll your foot back and forth to get deep into those foot muscles.
14. Surround yourself with green
No, not money–although that would be nice! Getting out into nature does wonders for the mind. There are endless ways to go about it, depending on what activity level you enjoy: walking, hiking, lake activities, golf, or just lounging in a park. The serenity and beauty of a lush, green landscape is the change of scenery that will spark instant relaxation.
15. Creative Visualization
Yes, I love meditation, so you might be wondering why it didn’t make the list. Creative visualization is so similar! I don’t always use meditation to attune my energy and focus to the future. Sometimes it is a way for me to just clear my head. Creative visualization is another way to relax. Sometimes you have so much going on that you don’t want to clear your head. You want to keep that to-do list at the forefront of your attention. Being hyper-focused doesn’t mean you can’t find calm, though! Set a timer for 15 minutes and close your eyes, relax, and visualize how you want things to go in a specific situation– the best possible outcome! Forget the skepticism and worries about things going wrong. Picture your future as you want it to be. When your timer goes off, ask yourself what’s stopping you from the dream you just envisioned? That ‘dream’ might just be your new plan of action.