Reducing stress is imperative to good health. "The amazing thing about de-stressing is that in moments, you can change the internal bio-chemical "climate" in your body from high cortisol to lowered levels of stress hormones," says clinical psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld, Ph.D.
Luckily, stress reduction isn't only beneficial for you, it is also easy to accomplish. Here, tips that anyone can do to alleviate stress in just minutes.

Just Breathe

According to Donnenfeld, the simple act of conscious breathing can help to lower stress levels.

Try this: During transitions in the day, such as a lunch break, getting home from work or dropping your child off at school, take a moment to take three cleansing breaths.

"If one is pulled tight as a stretched rubber band all day and does not let it go slack at moments," Donnenfeld explains, "the strain on the system is intense and consistent, which puts people more at risk for health problems."

Use Epsom Salt

You may think Epsom salt is just for soaking your feet, but it actually has some amazing calming qualities. Using Epsom salt helps boost serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain, by restoring magnesium levels.

Try this: Add two cups of Epsom salt to your bath water and soak for 12 or more minutes for the best stress relieving results. Or after your bath or shower, use Epsom salt as an exfoliant by mixing two cups of Epsom salt with ¼ cup petroleum jelly and three drops of lavender oil. Rub it on dry areas and brush away the salt.

Laugh More

It may not be a surprise that laughing can ebb stress levels, but why is it so effective? During a laugh, the heart beats faster, the blood becomes oxygenated and blood pressure rises. This mimics the affects of exercise on the brain, suppressing stress hormones. In fact, a study done at the University of Berlin found that laughing for just one minute was as beneficial as spending 45 minutes in the gym

Try this: Visit a friend that makes you laugh, go see a comedy show, or ask your child to make funny faces for a laugh that will melt away stress.

Boost Your Health

Just being healthier—mentally and physically—can make a big impact on your ability to handle stress. Try these health-boosting tips:

  1. Decrease Caffeine intake.

  2. Eat more fruits and veggies and less junk food. (You don't need to give treats completely, just be more balanced!) Your body is a machine and it needs good fuel to keep it running properly.

  3. Count your blessings or the good things in your life by keeping a gratitude journal—take 5 minutes each day to write in the journal things that made your day or that you are grateful for.

  4. Spend 10 -20 minutes 3 times a week in physical activity such as walking, gardening, riding a bike or playing ball with your kids. Don't think of it as exercise; think of it as keeping all your moving parts moving. Like any other machine, you don't want to get "rusty."