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Quick Relaxation Techniques for Instant Relaxation and Zen

Let’s face it; life can be stressful. Sometimes, it can feel like we don’t even have 10 minutes to spare. Even if you know all the Stress Management skills, sometimes one just needs a quick break from the stresses of a busy day—in the middle of the day. At these times, instant relaxation techniques can serve as lifesavers. These mini-relaxation techniques are powerful stress-busters that you can reach for anytime. Whether you’re preparing for an important meeting, stuck in traffic, or in the middle of an uncomfortable situation—these exercises can be a fast and effective tool to help you achieve instant relaxation so that you can confidently face the stresses of the day. So go ahead—take some time to try them all to see which ones work best for you.

Have 15 minutes to spare? Try a full relaxation technique for a total de-stressing experience.

Instant Relaxation Techniques

These instant relaxation techniques counteract the effects of stress by eliciting the body’s relaxation response, which includes slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. These exercises don’t have to take a lot of time out of your day. It’s really just about setting aside some time to pay attention to your breathing and to your surroundings. Here are a few techniques to help you relax quickly that you can do anytime, anywhere.

Deep Breathing Technique for Instant Calm

deep breathing instant relaxation

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.

Deep Breathing Exercise

  1. Sit back in a comfortable position.
  2. Place one hand on your belly, so you can feel it rise and fall with each breath.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds.
  4. Hold the air within your lungs for 5 seconds.
  5. Pucker your lips, and slowly exhale through your mouth for 7 seconds.
  6. Repeat several times

Mindfulness Technique for Quick Focus

instant relaxation techniques that work

Rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, the act of mindfulness switches the focus to what’s happening right now, allowing you to be fully engaged in the present moment. Try this mindfulness exercise to help you quickly relax when you are at work, home, or even when you are doing activities such as walking, exercising, or eating…whenever you need a dose of calmness.

Mindfulness Exercise

  1. Focus on an aspect of your breathing:
    • The sensation of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth
    • Your belly rising and falling
  2. Now, begin to widen your focus:
    1. The sounds you hear
    2. The sensations you feel
    3. The objects you see
  3. Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad.
  4. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing and repeat the exercise. 

Tensing & Releasing for Rapid Unwinding

instant relaxation techniques that work

When we hold onto worries and stress, our muscles unconsciously tighten. Most of the time we don’t even notice how tense we are–until the tension leads to aches, pain, and exhaustion. This particular instant relaxation technique is all about helping your body let go of all that tension. By first tensing your muscles and then loosening them, you force your body to release the stresses of the day.

Tensing & Releasing Exercise

  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  2. While taking a deep breath in, tense your entire body by squeezing every muscle you can–from your face down to your toes.
  3. Hold this tension and your breath for 5 seconds.
    • Notice the heaviness and tightness
  4. While exhaling, relax all of your muscles, imagining all the built-up tension and stress in your body melting away into the ground
    • Notice the lightness of your body
  5. As you take slow, deep breathscontinue focusing on how soft your muscles are and how relaxed you feel.
  6. Continue this until you feel completely relaxed.


Like all skills, I encourage you to practice these techniques several times a day for at least a week of two, in order to find what works best for you. For more effective relaxation tips, be sure to check out the article on complete relaxation techniques that you can do when you have more time set aside.

Now that you are equipped with these instant relaxation techniques, let’s all breathe our way to a stress-free day!

You can find more essential information such that presented in “Quick Relaxation Techniques for Instant Relaxation and Zen” can be found in Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, by Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH.

Phoebe Chi, MD
Phoebe Chi, MD

A physician-educator and managing editor of PhoebeMD: Health + Inspiration, Dr. Chi aims to inspire, inform, and empower the reader community. She is the author of Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, a poetry-infused health guide, and founder of Pendants for a Cause, a nonprofit organization with the purpose of raising funds to fight illness, provide care, and bring awareness to medically vulnerable populations around the world.

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26 replies »

  1. Thanks this is almost my exact falling asleep routine!! I’m living with COPD end-stage this is my go to treatment for panic attacks, this is very good advice,I don’t think that I have anything to add to it. Costa Rica is beautiful! Have you visited Panama?

  2. The “tensing” exercise is one that I have found to be helpful, especially in those moments where you can feel your body already tensed up. It’s something about being aware that your body creates that tense position unconsciously and then realizing you do have control over it that I find comforting. Thanks for the post!

  3. Great techniques. I especially like Mindfulness. It’s nice to sit and meditate or breathe for relaxation, but being able to be mindful while out and about is also helpful on “those” days.

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