Ever look back on an episode of high anxiety and wonder why on earth you got so upset, anxious, exasperated, overwhelmed, or just plain freaked? Time defuses most crises, but why wait hours or days for that sigh of relief?
Here are five on-the-spot stress stoppers that suck the hot air right out of high-pressure moments. Next time you think you’re going to burst into tears (even crocodile ones), lean on your car horn like a New York cabbie, or say something you know you’ll regret, try one of these moves instead:
- Take a deep, belly-expanding slow breath while counting to five. Then, breathe out to a count of seven, pulling your tummy in as you exhale. You can do this anytime, anywhere, and no one will notice.
- Chew gum. It seems to affect something called the vagus nerve, which aids relaxation. Besides, chewing gum is much better than gritting your teeth. Keep a pack in your car in case of traffic jams.
- Find a place where you can disappear for a couple of minutes (an empty office or a bathroom stall is perfect). Tightly scrunch up all the muscles of your face for 15 seconds and then release. Repeat several times until the tension above your neck is gone.
- Have a cuppa. Just drinking hot, fragrant tea has a soothing effect — if you don’t settle down and sip it slowly, you’ll burn your mouth! What’s more, there are healthy compounds in tea, including polyphenols, that counter the side effects of stress.
- Take a whiff of lavender, lemon, rose, basil, orange, or mango. All contain a compound called linalool, the vapors of which induce calm. Keep a tiny vial of one of these essential oils in your desk drawer or your purse for emergency stress attacks. Think of it as today’s version of smelling salts.