Anxiety can hit at any time – during a test, at the office, in the middle of a meeting or even in the midst of the holiday season. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to will our bodies to stop being stressed out, but there are ways that you can unwind on the spot and get yourself back on track. Next time you start to feel anxiety coming on, give any of these five relaxation techniques a try:
This relaxation technique can be done anywhere and at any time. Stop whatever you’re doing and focus on simply breathing in and out. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly to help bring your heart rate and blood pressure down. Deep breaths bring in more oxygen, which stimulates the parasympathetic reaction that helps reduce anxiety. While you’re at it, close your eyes and visualize yourself in a place that makes you calm, whether that’s your own bedroom or a beach.
Snack on dark chocolate
Ready for the best news you’ll hear all day? Dark chocolate can actually be good for you in moderation. In fact, Greatist reported that dark chocolate helps regulate cortisol, a stress hormone. Stick to about a square, or 1.4 ounces to reap the benefits.
Staring at a full email inbox on your computer or phone won’t exactly help diminish that feeling of anxiety. According to the Huffington Post, late night computer use is associated with stress in both men and women. Instead, take a few minutes to put down your phone and step away from the computer screen. Chat with a friend, take a walk or read a book.
Turn up the tunes
Get lost in a song to help decrease your blood pressure and fill your brain with dopamine – a feel-good neurochemical that works to reduce stress hormone levels. But you may want to stay away from the heavy metal if it’s relaxation you’re after. Classical music has proved to be effective in lowering stress levels and slowing your heart rate.
Certain scents can have an amazing effect on stress levels. In fact, citrus has been shown to help alleviate stress by increasing levels of the hormone norepinephrine, which affects mood. If you’re at home, fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a few drops of vanilla and some orange peels to fill the air with a warm citrusy aroma.