Feeling stressed out and need to relax? While an hour-long massage, forest walk or yoga session sound just the ticket sometimes life doesn’t give us time as a luxury and all you may have are five short minutes to breathe deeply and relax before you have to leave for work/the kids come home/your guests arrive/the next task begins. Here we give you 10 ways to relax in less than 5 minutes at home.
1. Breathe deeply – it’s one you’ll have heard many times before but that’s because it really works. Taking a few deep, slow breaths reduces activity of the sympathetic nervous system which is active when we are stressed  (see blog on HPA axis).
2. Visualize a happy place – guided imagery is a well validated stress reduction technique. There are lots of guides online or you can try your own – close your eyes and imagine yourself lying on a beach, in a park or wherever you feel happiest. Imagine the sensations, the sounds, the sights. Deeply imagine yourself there and reap the stress reduction benefits.
3. Seek out nature – you don’t even need to go outside to benefit from nature. Studies have shown that houseplants actually reduce physiological signs of stress . Take a break and water that poor houseplant you’ve been neglecting, look after it and it will look after you.
4. Kiss or hug someone – if you have a partner at home, a child or even a pet give them a kiss or a hug when you’re feeling stressed. Studies have shown that affectionate behaviour reduces stress .
5. Put on your favourite tune – studies have shown that listening to music reduces heart rate and blood pressure when you are stressed .
6. Treat yourself – take time out to treat yourself with a small bit of chocolate, a sweet drink you like or a piece of candy. Research has shown that a small amount of sugar can dampen physiological stress responses .
7. Chew gum – studies have shown that chewing gum reduces both how stressed people report feeling and the amount of stress hormones that the body produces .
8. Make yourself laugh – laughter, or even just the anticipation of laughter, reduces stress biologically and psychologically . So google ‘funny cat videos’ or whatever floats your boat and get those endorphins flowing.
9. Adopt a power pose – Spread your limbs out and take up as much room as you can. Imagine that you are the confident CEO of a large company. Studies have shown that this for just 1 minute can change not only how stressed you feel but also how your body responds to stress  (see our Posture Blog).
10. Use the Pip – got 5 minutes to spare? Take out your Pip and challenge yourself to relax. Unfreeze the frozen landscape using just the power of the mind, race your hot air balloon high over the landscape below or try the guided meditation soundscapes in our new Clarity app. Using the Pip has been shown to reduce heart rate and stress in stressed-out students .
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