Stress Relievers: 75 Ways to Reduce Stress

Stress Relievers for All Types of People

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We all experience stress on a regular basis, though the type and intensity of the stress can vary from minor challenges to major crises. When stress gets to be too intense, chronic, and unmanaged, it can take a toll on our health and well-being. That's why effective stress relievers are essential in restoring inner peace and physical health.

It can be challenging, however, to find stress relievers that fit for every stressful situation.

You may not always be in the mood for meditation when your thoughts are racing, though it is a powerhouse of a stress reliever; you may sometimes face relationship stress that isn't as well-managed by breathing exercises (another highly effective stress reliever) as it might be by learning communication techniques. Guided imagery is fantastic for before bedtime while games are an optimal stress reliever to share with friends. 

The following list was designed with versatility in mind. These stress relievers are proven effective and can be used in a variety of situations. You can try them each once and see what you enjoy the most, or make a few favorites part of your daily routine, with some extras to use on an as-needed basis. Each list item is linked to more information to make this a list worthy of revisiting again and again. Enjoy!

Practice Using Guided Imagery

Practicing guided imagery is a fun and simple way to take a break from stress, clarify what you want, and build optimism.

It's a relatively quick pathway to mental peace.

Use Self-Hypnosis

Self-hypnosis provides a simple and relaxing route to changing habits, relaxing your body, altering your thought patterns, and more. Because all of these can be stress relievers, self-hypnosis is well worth the effort.

Learn Autogenics

Autogenics allows you to change your physiology with your mind and reverse your stress response easily.

Learn how and you'll have a great tool to combat stress.

Use Journaling

Journaling can be used in several different ways, all of which can relieve stress. Because journaling is proven by research to bring several health benefits in addition to stress relief, this stress reliever is highly recommended.

Get into Meditation

Meditation brings short-term stress relief as well as lasting stress management benefits. There are many different forms of meditation to try – each one is unique and brings its own appeal.

Learn PMR

Progressive muscle relaxation, or PMR, is a technique that allows you to relax all of the muscles in your body, group by group. Beginning sessions take several minutes and allow you to feel physically and emotionally relaxed when done. With practice, you can achieve full-body relaxation within seconds.

Practice Yoga

Yoga incorporates breathing exercises, meditation, and light exercise. One session brings initial stress relief, and continued practice brings greater resilience to stress. It's one of the more potent stress relievers.

Use Breathing

Breathing exercises provide convenient and simple stress relief in that they can be used anytime, anywhere, and they work quickly.

Play Games

Enjoying a good game with a group of friends, or playing something relaxing online can take your mind off of your stressors, and can lead to a more relaxed state.

Games are stress relievers that work well because people enjoy them enough to use them regularly.

Sex

Within a healthy relationship, sex can be a fantastic stress reliever as it incorporates several other stress relief ingredients – breathing, touch, social connection, and a few others – and brings a rush of endorphins and other beneficial chemicals with orgasm. It's another one of the more "fun" stress relievers that can also be quite effective.

Get More Laughter in Your Life

The physical act of laughing releases tension and brings positive physiological changes. Finding ways to work more laughter into your day can be an effective route to stress relief.

Look into Biofeedback

While biofeedback requires some special equipment, this stress relief technique can allow you to become more aware of and consciously alter the physiological changes that come with stress. By using your mind to relax your body, you can relax your mind to a greater degree as well, creating a positive feedback loop.

Use Music Therapy

Music can alter your physiology in ways that help you to relieve stress. It's an enjoyable, passive route to stress relief. Formal music therapy sessions can help with a variety of stress-related issues.

Take a Walk

Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever that can work in minutes. Taking a walk allows you to enjoy a change of scenery, which can get you into a different frame of mind, and brings the benefits of exercise as well. Learn about the other benefits of walking as a stress reliever.

Plant a Garden

Getting outside and enjoying the scenery is just one of the ways that gardening can contribute to stress relief. Read about the other stress reliever benefits of planting a garden.

Practice Time Management

Honing your time management skills can allow you to minimize the stressors that you experience, and better manage the ones you can't avoid. When you are able to complete everything on your "to do" list without the stress of rushing or forgetting, your whole life feels easier.

Listen to Music as Needed

Finding a music therapist isn't the only way music can help as a stress reliever. Creating playlists for various moods (a cathartic mix for when you want to process feelings, an upbeat mix for when you need more energy, etc.) can help you to relieve stress passively, enjoyably, and conveniently.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A poor diet can bring greater reactivity toward stress. A healthy diet can bring greater physical and emotional wellness. Find some simple go-to meals and snacks, and feel less stressed in your daily life.

Learn Assertive Communication Skills

Relationships can be great stress relievers. Knowing how to keep your relationships healthy through effective communication is one of the best investments of time and energy for stress relief.

Enjoy Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has real benefits for stress relief – it can help you to become energized, more relaxed, or more present.

Reduce Caffeine Intake

Consuming caffeine too late in the day can affect sleep quality, which impacts stress levels. Consuming too much caffeine, in general, can make you more emotionally reactive to stress. Learn how much caffeine is too much.

Drink in Moderation

Speaking of knowing limits, maintaining careful limits with alcohol is particularly important. One glass of red wine at the end of the day can bring relaxation, but too much alcohol can obviously bring a host of other problems.

Don’t Procrastinate

Putting off a stressful or labor-intensive project can only increase the stress you experience. Learn how to stop procrastination can allow you to get done what you need to do, without the added stress of rushing for a deadline.

Drink Green Tea

Sitting with a glass of green tea and planning for the day ahead, or reflecting on the day behind (remember: decaf at night!) can provide you with a nice break and a taste of peace. You'll experience the health benefits of green tea as well.

Throw On Some Music and Clean House

This is more fun than it sounds.  The music can lift your mood and energize you, the physical activity of cleaning can provide you with additional benefits, and you'll be left with a less cluttered, more soothing environment.  It's a triple-threat stress relief strategy!

Watch Aquarium Fish

Even if you're just watching one fish swim around a bowl, taking some time to relax and watch a fish glide around in the water can help you to slow down, focus on something other than your stressors, and relax for a few minutes.

Take a Walk With A Friend

Social support is one of the most effective stress relievers around.  Taking time to nurture your relationships when you're stressed can get you into a better place emotionally, and can be good for your friends, too.

Sing Along With Music

Music has the ability to sooth stress in several ways, and belting out a song can not only be an immersive experience but a cathartic one as well.  Plus, singing can bring a special feeling of tension release during stressed times.  (If you're shy about your singing abilities, you can always sing in the shower or your car.)

Set Up a Home Spa

The whole home spa experience can be wonderfully soothing.  Running a bubble bath with some soothing sounds can leave you feeling clean and relaxed, and cared for.  Incorporating aromatherapy can intensify the stress relief.  (And if you don't have a tub, even a quick foot soak and lotion can help you feel like great.)

Cut Down On Some of Your Commitments

Living a full life is great, but when you're exhausted and overwhelmed, you are probably enjoying everything less than you could be.  Sometimes cutting out some of the most stressful or least necessary activities can do wonders for your stress levels.

Try a 5-Minute Meditation

One of the reasons some people give for not taking on a meditation habit is that they don't have the time for a daily 20-minute session.  Virtually all of us can squeeze in five minutes of meditation, no matter how busy we are, and fortunately, that's enough to make a difference.

Use Chocolate to Your Advantage

Large quantities of chocolate can make you feel sick and regretful.  But small amounts of the good stuff can give a wonderful flavor and provide an exercise in mindfulness without those downsides.  And dark chocolate brings additional benefits as well!

Walk Your Dog

Getting out in the sunshine (or rain, if that's what's out there) with your dog can give both of you the exercise and bonding time you deserve and can relieve stress in the process.

Try Breathing Exercises

These stress relievers are wonderful because you can use them anywhere and the work--quickly!

Draw a Picture

Enjoying your creativity can be a wonderful way to relieve stress, and it's not just an activity for artists.  It's been proven that drawing and coloring can effectively relieve stress, so pick up a pencil and doodle.

Dance to Your Favorite Music

If you like singing as a stress reliever, try getting up and dancing!

Work on Becoming An Optimist

Optimists tend to have happier, healthier lives, which probably means they stress less as well.  Fortunately, you can build your own tendency toward optimism and notice what's good in your life more often.

Try Focused Meditation

Meditation can be practiced in many ways, and one of my favorites is to focus on an object or thought. Learn how to do this, and practice with various focus objects.  You may find this type of meditation easier than you expect.

Use a Fitness Tracker to Relieve Stress

Fitness trackers aren't just for counting steps (though they're great for that!), so if you wear a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or another fitness tracker, here's how to use it to your advantage.

Take a Mini-Vacation

Many, many vacation days go unused by people who think they don't have the time or money for a larger trip.  Fortunately, mini-vacations can really be enjoyable and relaxing!  Here's how to make the most of one.

Pray

Many people turn to spirituality for stress relief, and studies show it works.  Prayer can be physically relaxing as well as emotionally comforting and spiritually uplifting.  The next time you feel stressed, don't forget the power of prayer.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Counting your blessings does more than remind you of those things you have to be grateful for; it puts you into a mindset where you more often notice other things you have to be grateful for, and your stressors feel smaller in comparison.  It also reminds you of all of the resources you have to cope with the stress, which can be quite empowering.

Play Music and Cook Something Wonderful

Yes, music is so helpful for stress that I had to mention it again.  Paired with the sweet smells and satisfying feeling of cooking something delicious, music can again transport you to a less stressed state.  (Plus, the people you share your cooking with will love you for this!)

Surround Yourself With Positive Energy

It may sound like a no-brainer to say that if you feel stressed, you should remove yourself from those stressful situations.  However, surrounding yourself with supportive people and a soothing environment can do more than move you away from stress; it gets you closer to inner peace.

Learn to Say No to Demands on Your Time

Setting boundaries and refusing to overbook yourself can be easier said than done, but it eliminates a whole host of stressors you would have to otherwise manage.  If you're not comfortable doing this yet, this article can help.

Take a Nap

Sleep deprivation can make us all stressful.  Fortunately, naps can contribute to the overall sleep needs, and can help you to feel less stressed and more refreshed.  Here's more about the benefits of a good power nap.

Get Daily Stress and Mental Health Tips

Having access to a steady stream of actionable strategies can keep stress management in the forefront of your mind, so even if you're not ready to try some of these new coping strategies now when you need them, they won't be far.  

Reduce Stress at Your Job

Certain types of job stress can make you dread going to work!  Here's how to help if the problem isn't you

Take on a New Stress Relief Habit and Stick With It!

Sometimes just finding a new way to relieve stress and incorporating it into your routine can transform the way you feel about your life and how you manage stress. Don't just think about trying some of these - put some of them into practice today! (And again tomorrow.)

Play Music During Your Commute

Music has great stress relief and health benefits. Try this, and find additional ways to use music as a daily stress reliever.

Get a Massage

Massage can be a great way to relieve tension in your body, and a self-massager gives you an inexpensive massage anytime. Read more about this and other stress relief gifts and tools.

Take a Quiet Day

If you don’t have the money or time for a vacation, taking a quiet day is a great way to get a break. Here are some more ideas for stress reliever mini-vacations.

Goof Off A Little 

With how busy we all are these days, it can pay off to take a little time to do nothing. We all instinctively knew this as children, but somewhere along the way got too busy to let our inner children come out to play. Read more about this and other stress relievers from childhood.

Laugh With Your Friends

Laughter has significant stress management and even health benefits. Learn more about the stress relief benefits of laughter and find ways to work this great stress reliever into your day.

Throw a Small Party

Social support works wonders on a person’s stress level, and each type of friend is important. Throw a small party (as opposed to a large, unruly one, or no party at all) and celebrate your most important friends and the roles they play in your life. You’ll strengthen your social bonds and relieve the stress you may be feeling.

Have a Spa Night At Home

Taking time to pamper yourself is an important but often forgotten stress reliever. An inexpensive way to do this is to have a spa night at home. Learn how now.

Go on a News Fast

The news is important, but what we hear in the news these days can be highly stressful. Taking one day a week to shun the news from t.v., the internet, and other sources can do us good. If anything really important is happening, you’ll hear about it, but the peace and quiet can be good for your stress levels.

Read a Book

Getting lost in a good book can be a great way to relieve stress. Here’s a selection of good fiction and non-fiction that can be especially helpful for stress relief.

Daydream

Give your mind a break and let it wander for a while. On purpose. Imagine yourself swimming in a pool of chocolate, floating on the moon, or winning a Nobel prize and going to Disneyland to celebrate. You’ll feel less stressed in just a few minutes!

Get A Hug From a Loved One

Remember when you were little and a hug from Mommy or Daddy would fix it all? Hugs and other forms of social support can still make a big difference.

Have a Pajama Day

Take a full day (a day that you have off from work) and stay in your jammies. Relax, stay comfortable, and do what you want. It’ll feel like a mini-vacation and you won’t even have to leave the house!

Develop a Positive Self-Talk Habit

We often don’t realize how much our thoughts color our world, but the impact of self-talk is significant and pervasive. Developing a more positive style of self-talk can be a minor change that has a major impact. It’s never too late to change.

Eat To The Tune of Classical Music

Music can slow down your system and aid digestion. Learn more about the benefits of music.

Cultivate Mindfulness 

Worrying about the future or rehashing the past can really drain you in ways that you may not readily realize. Practice the art of ‘being in the now’, or learn another easy meditation technique. With practice, you should find you have much more energy to devote to what’s going on right now.

Get Moving! 

Getting exercise is a great way to take care of yourself and your health. Here are 10 more great self-care strategies for stress management.

Stop Self Sabotage

Are you your own worst enemy? If you’re sabotaging your own happiness and sense of peace (either consciously or unconsciously), now’s the time to stop. Here’s help with stopping self-sabotage.

Play With Your Pets (or Someone Else’s)

Pets carry great stress management and health benefits. Whether you’re stroking a cat, tossing a Frisbee to a dog, or staring at the inhabitants of a fish tank, you can lower your blood pressure and your stress level pretty quickly!

Create Artwork

Getting in touch with your creative side may have been easy for you during childhood, but if you’ve lost touch with your penchant for drawing, it’s not too late to pick it up again! Learn more about reducing stress with the therapeutic qualities of art.

Compare Your Life to Other People's with Stress Polls 

What stresses you the most? Do you exercise regularly? These stress polls are a fun way to see how other people live and view the world and examine your own life and the role stress plays in it.

Visualize Your Ideal Life—And Make It Happen! 

Guided imagery, self- hypnosis, and visualizations can help you to visualize where you’d like to be in life, and then BE there. They’re also great ways to relieve stress—now, and in the future.

Sources:

Bennett MP, Lengacher C. Humor, and Laughter May Influence Health: III. Laughter and Health Outcomes. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. December 2005.

Evenson RJ, Simon RW. Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and Depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 

Nakata A, Takahashi M, Irie M, Ray T, Swanson NG. Job Satisfaction, Common Cold, and Sickness Absence among White-collar Employees: A Cross-sectional Survey. Industrial Health, September 2010.

Stansfeld S, Candy B. Psychosocial work environment and mental health--a meta-analytic review. Scandanavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, December 2006. 

Ullrich, Philip M., M.A.; Lutgendorf, Susan K., Ph.D. Journaling About Stressful Events: Effects of Cognitive Processing and Emotional Expression. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Vol. 24, No. 3, 2002.

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