Office Life

Stress Relief for Busy Professionals: How to Unwind in 20 Minutes or Less

Our lives are packed with things to do, places to go, and people to see. Between our social lives and work, it’s difficult to find the time to actually relieve some of the daily stress.

In fact, work is the leading source of daily stress for most adults.

So, how are busy people supposed to manage stress?

It’s fairly well-known that exercise is the best stress and anxiety reliever, but most people don’t use it as their main outlet. Fatty foods, video games, and shopping are go-to stress relievers for people because there is instant relief. However, after you’ve finished that burger and fries, spent three hours killing virtual zombies, or dropped $100 on new shoes, there will be regret and the stress will be back with a vengeance.

Try one of these quick, guilt-free methods instead!

1. Nibble, Don’t Gorge, on Snacks

Skip the chips next time!
Skip the chips next time!

Get to know your body’s clock. If you know you get really irritated in the afternoons at about 2 o’clock, then nip it in the bud before it happens. Start by treating yourself to a light snack. Dark chocolate is great for satisfying a sweet tooth, and it has antioxidants that actually create feel-good hormones in your brain called endorphins. Keep a small bag of snack size candies in your desk and have a piece if you feel the urge. Boost your mood by designating a few minutes to consume a healthy snack or take a coffee break; that few minutes can do wonders to reduce anxiety.

2. Get Moving

When you’re having a bad day or your work is just piling up with no end, the stress can be overwhelming. Nothing helps that feeling more than getting away from your work station for a few minutes. Taking a brisk walk and stretching are great ways to get your blood flowing and create endorphins. The walks don’t have to be long, just around the block or parking lot is plenty.

However, hope isn’t lost if you don’t have the time to stretch your legs during work hours. Studies show that walking for only 20-30 minutes a day, 5 days a week will continuously reduce your daily stress levels!

3. Start an Afternoon Stress Relief Ritual

Make like a granny and take up knitting.
Make like a granny and take up knitting.

Relaxation rituals are also effective stress relievers because they provide much needed comfort. It’s not always possible to lie down and rest while at work, but try closing your eyes for about ten minutes while sitting at your desk or in a break room. This will reenergize your brain and help you regain focus for daily tasks.

For example, I close my eyes and listen to soft piano music for a few minutes in the afternoon almost every day when I need a quick break. Everyone is different, though, so find what works best for you and try it out. Your ritual should be quick but relaxing, and something you would want to do every day. Some other examples are knitting, doodling, “window” shopping online, or doing hand exercises with stress balls.

4. Laugh

I’m sure you’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine. Laughing is great for increasing your heart rate and releasing endorphins, just like exercising. If you’re feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, find a way to laugh, giggle, snicker or even smile. Watch a funny YouTube video of someone falling down or look up a few jokes online. I like to listen to Pandora’s Comedy Radio. I laugh out loud in my cubicle sometimes, but it’s totally worth the embarrassment, especially when it makes me feel better.

Remember, being stressed out can cause hypertension, anxiety, depression, and obesity. So it’s important to find new ways to release it. Your stress might be high at times, but there are simple ways to manage it. Take a little time for yourself daily to calm your nerves and relax, and it will make a huge difference for your overall health.

How do you manage your stress? Do you have any tips I didn’t mention or do you use any I listed? Is work your number one stressor? Let us know in the comments below!

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