Instant de-stressers

Posted Jan 29, 2019

Wikimedia, Public Domain
Source: Wikimedia, Public Domain

To reduce stress, some people rely on meditation or vacations. Here are some less time-consuming options:


  • Watch a virtual aquarium on YouTube. My current fave.
  • Watch a short cute dog video, for example, this two-minute compilation.
  • Look at a meaningful photo or album, perhaps on your phone or Facebook.
  • Look at nature or, on a clear night, the stars.


  • Listen to your favorite soothing track. My fave: Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in the Mirror)
  • Hum your most comforting song or anything that pops into your head. (I’ll often hum a Pentatonix Christmas carol long after Christmas—and I’m Jewish. Here’s the album.) Soon, that song may become an ear worm,  comfortingly “playing” in the back of your mind as you proceed.


  • Low-calorie (guilt-free) comfort food—for example, popcorn, tea, perhaps peppermint or chamomile.


  • Rock in a chair, even as working.
  • Rotate or massage your neck.
  • Sleep with a stuffed animal (or a live one).


  • Take a deep breath or two, maybe while staring at something beautiful, like a flower. Take twice as long to exhale as to inhale.
  • Take a short walk. Even one minute can help.
  • Water, weed, or prune your plants.
  • Stare at a candle, Dollar stores carry a wide range of fragrances, yes, for $1. Or for a $10 splurge, try my fave: Voluspa goji tarocco orange.
  • Stare at the mist and changing colors while enjoying the scent of an essential oil diffuser, for example, the top-rated Urpower.

In your mind

  • Think, “What’s my next baby step?”
  • Think of your most peaceful image, for example, a baby sleeping, a fern-lined creek, clouds scudding.
  • Think of a fond memory. I like to think of my mom singing along with me.
  • Think of a good upcoming event: for example, tonight’s dinner with a friend.
  • Read quotations about love, life, work, beauty. It’s just a Google search away.


Of course, these are just palliatives. If you find yourself often stressed out, any idea of the underlying cause: Genetics? A real-world problem? A pestering voice from the past? Or are you one of those people who somehow likes to be stressed or sad, for example, it makes you feel more alive or as having more gravitas? Is there anything you should do to address a root cause of your stress? Or should you just use soothers?