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8 Techniques to Instantly Reduce Stress

There seems to be an endless number of reasons to be stressed; the COVID-19 pandemic, low employment rates, the struggling economy, the need to wear a mask, the risk of getting sick, financial stressors, academic pressure, and familial responsibilities are just a few. Everyday people encounter these stressors and more regarding their social connections, family ties, health, political stance, financial wellbeing, and work relations. With so much stress and anxiety prevalent today, it can be easy for one to feel overwhelmed and panicked.

There are, however, certain steps individuals can take to help relieve stress. While some forms of stress and anxiety may require medical analysis, diagnosis, and treatment, many people simply suffer from the natural stress that accompanies daily life. While stress is complicated, stress relief does not have to be.

To relieve anxiety and find instant relief in high-stress situations or circumstances, consider implementing the following practical ideas that can be completed anywhere in under five minutes. These tips will promote relaxation, stress relief, and resilience against stressors.

Focus on Breathing

When individuals become stressed or overwhelmed, their body’s natural response is to produce an adrenaline rush to fight off whatever threat is presented. This leaves the individual feeling jittery and shaky and with a quickened heartbeat and rapid breathing. Often, this rapid breathing is the most difficult to assuage when feeling overwhelmed and can heighten feelings of anxiety and frustration. To combat this, practice abdominal (or belly) breathing, taking deep, lengthy breaths while closing the eyes. By focusing solely on deeply inhaling and exhaling, individuals can take a brief break from their stressors, boost mental focus, and be in a calm and rational state to address the issue at hand (Corliss).


Stretching the muscles of the body is another way to relieve tension. Stretching can be done quickly and helps increase blood and oxygen flow, helping clear the mind and energize the body (Espat). One effective stretch exercise is this routine from the MD Anderson Cancer Center:
  • Sit on a straight-backed chair.
  • Hold a belt (or rolled-up towel) in your right hand.
  • Inhale and extend your right arm upwards, letting the belt dangle behind you.
  • Exhale and bend your right arm at the elbow.
  • Push your left shoulder back as you reach around to grasp the end of the belt with your left hand.
  • Move your hands closer together while holding the strap and keeping your spine straight.
  • Don’t bend your head and neck forward.
  • Take five deep breaths.
  • Switch arms and repeat on the other side (Espat).
Focus on the Five Senses

Focusing the attention on the five senses is a common practice encouraged by therapists for patients with anxiety. Individuals experiencing panic attacks or bouts of stress can consider these easy questions to help realign their focus and steady their breathing or heart rate:
  • What is one thing I can currently see?
  • What is one thing I can currently hear?
  • What is one thing I can currently smell?
  • What is one thing I can currently touch?
  • What is one thing I can currently taste?

Candles, essential oils, and smelling salts have long been associated with practical stress relief. Studies indicate that the use of aromatherapy can reduce stress and aid in better sleeping patterns (Jennings). Consider lighting a candle that has a familiar or soothing scent or carrying essential oils in a backpack or purse. Apply several drops of essential oil to the wrists when feeling stressed. The most common aromas that are believed to reduce stress are lavender, rose, orange, frankincense, and sandalwood (Jennings).


Yoga is one of the most popular ways to relieve stress while incorporating exercise into one’s daily routine. Because yoga combines stretching and focusing on breathing, it is an ideal way to relax that offers health benefits (such as increased flexibility and core strengthening) (Corliss). Meditation, another integral part of yoga, helps focus the participant’s mind on their breathing or on a mantra, helping the individual form a new perspective about stressors or problems and feel relaxed.

Yoga poses can be done in the backyard, in the house, at a park, or at a gym. For additional guidance and examples of effective, proper yoga techniques, consider looking up yoga tutorials on YouTube or enrolling in a class at a local yoga studio.

Use Visual Imagery

Visual imagery is also referred to as guided imagery. This easy, creative mental exercise involves lying down on a bed or couch or sitting in a comfortable chair (Espat). The participant closes their eyes and visualizes themselves at a safe or relaxing location, such as a beach, a forest cabin, or another relaxing or meaningful place, focusing on making the details as realistic as possible (Espat). Participants are encouraged to envision the sights, sounds, and smells of their imaginary haven, mentally affirming that they are safe and relaxed (Espat). After several minutes, the participant can open their eyes and continue with their day (Espat).

This exercise is unique and effective because it creates an imaginary escape that is peaceful and safe. This “safe place” is helpful to return to, is organized in one’s mind, and is proven to help individuals reduce stress, relax, and refocus.

Chew Gum

This is an easy way to relieve stress on the go. Studies indicate that those who chew gum are more relaxed and better able to relieve stress than others (Jennings). This is possible because chewing gum provides increased blood flow to the brain (Jennings). Mint gum is also helpful in calming upset stomachs. Consider carrying mint gum in a purse or backpack to have on hand when feeling ill or stressed.

Keep a Journal

One of the most effective ways to relieve stress is to write in a journal. Individuals may write down a rant of what is stressful to them and express their emotions, or they can consider keeping a gratitude journal (Jennings). Expressing gratitude is proven to relieve stress and improve one’s mood while helping them recharge and clear their mind (Jennings).

As individuals follow these eight tips, they will be able to quickly reduce stress, feel more organized, and be more relaxed in possibly stressful situations.

If you are interested in reading about more ways to live a less stressful, more fulfilling life, find more articles like these on the EdGuru Edge blog. Subscribe at https://blog.edguru.co/. If you are stressed and would benefit from having a certified, experienced success strategist guide you on your journey to becoming your best self, you can schedule sessions with an EdGuru life coach at https://coach.edguru.co/.


Corliss, Julie. “Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress,” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard 

Medical School, published September 2016, updated September 10, 2019, https://www.


Espat, Adelina. “5-minute stress relief,” MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, 

October 2017, https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/5-minute-str


Jennings, Kerri-Ann. “16 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety,” Healthline, August 28, 

2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety#1.

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