The stress of the holiday season can really grind you down. Between shopping, cooking, and hosting, it’s hard to find time for yourself. But when you don’t have a free day — or even a free hour — just 10 minutes can do in a pinch. So before you go full bore into December, check out these quick relaxation tips. A few minutes can help you clear your head and get you ready to power through that holiday prep.

1. Take a deep breath

Deep breathing has long been used by medical practitioners to help patients reduce stress. Fortunately, you’ve already got the equipment to make this a DIY procedure. Count out a rhythm on your own or try one of the many apps that’ll do the counting for you. The main thing is to take a moment to focus on your breathing and recalibrate — you may even breathe easier after the fact too.

2. Strike a pose

Yoga has thousands of years of history and multiple scientific studies backing it up as a stress-reduction technique. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you can easily find a 10-minute routine suited to your level from a health site, online video, or local instructor.

3. Catch some rays

We all know the dangers of too much sun exposure, but if you want a sunnier disposition, spend a little time soaking in the source during those few precious hours of winter daylight. Spending just 10 minutes in the sunlight can help your body produce serotonin and vitamin D, which could boost your health and mood levels. As a bonus, your moment in the sun could also help strengthen your bones and reduce your risk for several diseases. That’s a real silver lining.

4. Add a personal touch

This activity will require a buddy. Simply find someone you love and give them a squeeze (best to ask first!). Humans crave personal connection, and support from people close to us — hugging in particular — has been shown to reduce stress and boost immune response, effects that may be partially related to the release of oxytocin. While it’s no magic bullet, a warm embrace may be just what the doctor ordered. After all, caring and connection are what the holidays are all about.

5. Write it down

Journaling is a scientifically-backed way to reduce stress and increase self-awareness. Taking a few minutes to record your thoughts, mood level, and surroundings will help you redirect your stress. As a bonus, taking time to journal on the regular can help you pinpoint what in your life is causing stress, which can help you make meaningful changes for long-term stress control. Call it an early New Year’s resolution, if you like. Either way, it’s a small investment with big dividends.

Bonus round: Score some peace of mind the smart way. With Esurance, you can get a free car insurance quote in the space of a coffee break. Take 10 minutes now to get started.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Lauren

A recovering English professor, repatriated expat and startup geek, Lauren speaks several languages, including Spanish, French, Academese, and Tech Lite. When she isn’t writing for Esurance, you might find her reading, marathoning Netflix, or gathering data to decide which San Francisco museums host the best nightlife events. She has a complicated relationship with the Oxford comma.