Purple flower at Epcot

Ever felt like you need a vacation from your vacation?

Walt Disney World can be one stressful place. Particularly around peak season and holiday times, the Most Magical Place on Earth can bring out the least magical responses from us.

“Why are crowds always so pushy?”

“Did we seriously just spend that much on food?”

“She tried to mow right through me! A baby isn’t a battering ram!”

“Get down from the guard rails, dear… No, we’re not at the front of the line yet, dear… No, we’re not going to die from waiting, dear… Stop spanking your brother with the boarding pass, dear… STAAAAAHHHHHPPPP!”

“Am I the only one here completely freaking out?!”

We’ve all been there. A Walt Disney World vacation is supposed to be a time to relax, to delight the imagination, and revel in the fantastical. That ideal can feel quickly upended when we lose our calm in the craziness of the parks.

The good news is there are ways to trick your brain into letting its guard down and relaxing, even in the midst of Walt Disney World. Here are seven of our favorite hacks to calm the heck down at The Most Magical Place on Earth.

1. Breathe

Purple flower at Epcot

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

This can be one of the most annoying things to hear when you are freaking out in the middle of Magic Kingdom parade crowds, but it’s true—when emotions soar, you need to breathe. The human brain requires oxygen to thrive, and the simple act of slow, steady breathing can do wonders to help bring stress levels down.

There are a number of breathing patterns that experts recommend for calming anxiety. The trick isn’t necessarily deep breathing but specifically slow breathing that helps. One popular pattern is 4-7-8 breathing. Wherever you are, breathe in for four seconds. Hold that breath for seven seconds, then release it for eight. Repeat this until your heart rate starts slowing. It can take some time, so keep it up. It helps to practice these during times when you are not stressed.

When I suffered from an anxiety disorder (which I have thankfully been totally delivered from), one of the most helpful apps I found for breathing was Relax Lite (for Android and iOS). This simple little app uses soothing sounds to guide you through breathing exercises for an allotted period of time. It takes the stress out of keeping track of counting each section of breath, and the sounds are very peaceful (as you’ll see in our next section, it is always worth having a pair of headphones with you at Walt Disney World).

You can also double-hack your breathing using aromatherapy. Take a few drops of a calming essential oil like jasmine, frankincense, or lavender and rub it on your wrists. Breathe in the scent while doing your breathing exercise and let the stress melt away. You can even carry yours in a convenient little travel case.


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