Stop Work Stress in 5 Minutes Flat

When you're on a deadline and pressed for time, it's easy for stress to sneak in and take hold. The first thing to do is to close your eyes and take a few deep belly breaths, but unfortunately, that's not always enough to bring your mind back to center. Luckily, it can sometimes only take five minutes to change the course of your day and stop a crazed mind in its tracks.

  1. Take a short walk: A change of pace and a little sunshine do wonders for a tired mind. Even if it feels like a luxury to step away from the office, fresh air and a little movement make a huge difference in your mood and energy. Five minutes outside and away from your project allows you to return with a refreshed, calmer perspective.
  2. Move through a short yoga session: You might not have time for a 60- or 90-minute yoga class on a busy day, but five minutes of yoga at home is better than no yoga at all! This straightforward five-minute sequence is full of energizing postures to help you relax and stay focused.
  3. Grab a cup of peppermint tea: A warm cup of hot tea is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but some varieties can help more than others; in a NASA-funded study, researchers found that during a stressful commute, subjects who smelled peppermint decreased their anxiety and fatigue levels by 20 percent and decreased frustration by 25 percent. If you can, enjoy your drink away from your desk.
  4. Stretch at your desk: After sitting at a desk for hours on end, stress can rear its head in the form of pesky tension in your lower back, neck, and shoulders. When you feel your body tighten up, try out these three easy stretches you can do inconspicuously while sitting at your desk.
  5. Call your mom (or a close friend): If you feel stress or anxiety spiking when you're alone, you'll be surprised to learn that some of the best medicine available is calling your mom. One study found that hearing your mother's voice helps the body release oxytocin, a hormone that combats stress. If you typically find yourself more anxious than calm after chatting with Mom, dial a close friend instead.