Knock Out Stress Tip – 5 Minute Techniques


As a therapist, I’m often told by clients that they don’t have time to try any of my stress reduction tips.    I always challenge them by asking them if they have 5 minutes free in their day.  Maybe it’s when they’re in line at the grocery store, or stuck at a red light.  In almost every case, the client says yes.   Amazingly, that’s all the time you need to squeeze in a relaxation technique that will significantly improve your emotional and physical well-being.  Here are my top 5 five-minute relaxation techniques:

1)      Deep Breathing Exercises.  Here’s one that you can do anywhere.  Pick a comfortable spot where you can sit or lie down.  Breathe as deeply as you can, focusing on the oxygen going into your lungs.  Hold the breath for five seconds, and slowly exhale, focusing on the breath flowing out of your body.  Repeat as many times as you can, until you feel calmer and more relaxed.

2)      Listen to Soothing Music.  Is traffic stressing you out?  Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety, so flip off the talk radio show and turn on a track of nature sounds or calming instrumentals[1].  Focus on the melody, instruments, or the different nature sounds.

 3)      Apply Heat.  Try placing a heating pad or hot towel around your neck, face, shoulders, or upper back area.  Focus on releasing your muscles, one by one, allowing tension to dissipate[1]

 4)      Mindfulness Meditation.  Mindfulness is the ability to remain aware of how you’re feeling right now, your “moment-to-moment” experience—both internal and external[2].   To get started, find a quiet place where you can be comfortable.  Pick a point of focus; this can be an object, image, or even a phrase.  Try to think only about the point of focus.  Don’t get frustrated if stray thoughts invade; just acknowledge them and go back to your point of focus.

 5)      Laugh.  Laughter reduces cortisol and releases endorphins, which fight the chemical effects of stress.  So read the comics, watch a funny TV show or YouTube video, or have a conversation with a friend that makes you laugh[1].

[1] Moniger, Jeanette.  “10 Relaxation Techniques that Zap Stress Fast.” Retrieved from on November 17, 2013.

[2] Lawrence Robinson, Robert Segal, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A.  “Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief”.  Retrieved from on November 17, 2013.