7 Ways to Instantly De-Stress

Calm down with these quick tricks.

man hikes with son in the woods

Medically reviewed in April 2021

Updated on February 9, 2022

You probably know some of the familiar feelings of stress: a racing heart and a mind that seems to be darting in every direction at once. But stress can also show up with physical symptoms like frequent headaches, colds, tiredness, and back pain. Before your worries get out of hand, there are some simple and effective steps that may quickly shift your mood.

Smell this scent
Lavender oil is a traditional remedy for nervousness and anxiety. Next time you’re stressed, dab some oil on your wrists, collarbone, or chest, and inhale deeply. Spray some on your pillow and bedsheets for a comforting scent as you sleep.

Focus on your breath
Deep breathing, also called belly breathing, can help you disengage from bothersome thoughts. It’s simple: Just breathe in deeply through your nose, letting your chest and belly rise up. Slowly exhale through your mouth or nose. Practice once or twice a day, building up to 10 minutes at a time.

Eat chocolate
Some research shows that eating dark chocolate lowers stress levels. Keep your snack size to around an ounce and a half per day to reap the benefits without taking in excess calories.

Get back to nature
Listening to nature-based sounds like running waterfalls or rainstorms can help reduce stress and anxiety. When you need to decompress, switch on nature-based tracks and unwind. You can experience nature sounds and images on Sharecare or find some on your favorite music streaming service.

Reach out to a friend
Catching up with a friend can change your frame of mind. It can be a quick call or text to let someone know you’re thinking about them. Just be sure to pick someone who doesn’t irritate you or stress you out.

Look at baby animal pictures
Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, and reduced productivity are all side effects of stress. Luckily, there’s an adorable (and research-backed) way to deal with that lost productivity: look at cute baby animal pictures. Instagram is a great place to find heartwarming accounts of your favorite animal. Just set a timer so you don’t get sucked into a social-media spiral.

Laugh it up
Laughing triggers endorphins, also known as the feel-good hormones. Share a giggle with co-workers. Before or after work, listen to a comedy podcast or follow your favorite joke or meme accounts on social media.

Stress can have troublesome health effects, including increased heart attack risk, breathing problems, and stomach issues. Aim to get your stress under control to reduce your risk of developing these related conditions.

Article sources open article sources

Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. March 14, 2013.
Al Sunni A, Latif R. Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). October 8, 2014.
Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center. Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation: Data represent first human trials examining the impact of dark chocolate consumption on cognition and other brain functions. ScienceDaily. April 24, 2018.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dark Chocolate. Accessed April 14, 2021.
American Psychological Association. Stress effects on the body. November 1, 2018.

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