You have to give a speech in 5 minutes, the boss just called and said he wants to see you in his office, now or you just heard your date pull up outside. Those are all stress inducing situations. But all you need is between 15 seconds and 5 minutes to calm your nerves. Here are some techniques we found in Woman’s World magazine to get you through:

  • If you’ve only got 15 seconds to get your nerves under control, do this: Take three deep breaths. Take the first, and hold it for one second, then repeat. Simply doing that can lower your blood pressure between 10 and 20 points! It also brings oxygen to the brain which helps you feel more alert. Then stand up straight. Taking a moment to improve your posture relieves tension in the neck, shoulders, back and legs.
  • If you’ve got one minute to get calm: Tighten up. Contract all your muscles, hold for five seconds, then release. That sends a signal to your brain to stop releasing stress chemicals. You’ll quickly feel calmer. Then, start humming a tune. It stimulates your body’s relaxation response by regulating your breathing, slowing your heart rate, and triggering calming chemicals.
  • If you have 2 minutes before you have to face a stressful situation, do this: Pinch yourself – squeeze the webbing between your thumb and index finger for 30 seconds. It’s a calming acupuncture point. Then, think of one word and repeat it quietly to yourself. It’s a simple meditation technique. If you can’t think of a word, try “ham-sah” – it mimics the sound of breathing.
  • If you have 5 minutes before a speech, date, or confrontation with the boss: Chew gum. It relaxes the muscles in the jaw and neck which is where most people hold their tension. Then, focus on what’s really important in your life. A UCLA study found that reflecting on the things you value most – like your family or your faith – before a high pressure event lowers your stress hormones and shuts down your body’s stress response, like shaking or sweaty hands.