Stress Relief: 18 Highly Effective Strategies for Relieving Stress (2023)

Stress Relief: 18 Highly Effective Strategies for Relieving Stress (1)

From minor challenges to major crises, stress is part of life. And while you can't always control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them. When stress becomes overwhelming or chronic, it can affect your well-being. That's why it's essential to have effective stress relievers that can calm your mind and body.

Some effective stress management techniques include:

  • Guided imagery
  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Deep breathing
  • Going for a walk
  • Hugs
  • Aromatherapy
  • Creativity
  • Healthy diet
  • Stress relief supplements
  • Leisure activities
  • Positive self-talk
  • Yoga
  • Gratitude
  • Exercise
  • Evaluating priorities
  • Social support
  • Eliminating stressors

1:41

Highly Effective Tips for Relieving Stress

There isn't a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to stress relief, however. What works for one person might not work for another.

And what works for you at home might not be an option when you're at work or in the community (dancing around your living room might be helpful but dancing in the grocery store might not be).

So it's important to have a variety of stress relief tools at your disposal. Then, you'll be able to pick a strategy that works best for your current circumstances.

Fast-Acting Stress Relief Strategies

What strategies can relieve stress fast? A number of helpful techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, are fast-acting tools that you can do anywhere, anytime.

Whether you're about to be interviewed for a job or you're feeling overwhelmed by your child's behaviorat the playground, it's important to have some stress reduction tools that can lower your stress right now.

The best short-term strategies:

  • Can be performed anywhere
  • Take very little practice to master
  • Are free
  • Provide immediate relief

Try Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is like taking a short vacation in your mind. It can involve imagining yourself being in your "happy place"—maybe picturing yourself sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, smelling the ocean, and feeling the warm sand underneath you.

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Guided imagery can be done with a recording where you listen to someone walk you through a peaceful scene. Or, once you know how to do it yourself, you can practice guided imagery on your own.

Simply close your eyes for a minute and walk yourself through a peaceful scene. Think about all the sensory experiences you engage in and allow yourself to feel like you're really there. After a few minutes, open your eyes and return to the present moment.

Meditate

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.

You might develop a mantra that you repeat in your mind as you take slow deep breaths. Or, you might take a few minutes to practice mindfulness, which involves being in the moment. Simply pay attention to what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.

When you're focused on the here-and-now, you won't be able to ruminate about something that already happened and you can't worry about something in the future. Meditation and mindfulness take practice, but it can make a big difference in your overall stress level as it brings you back to the present.

Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group. To practice, you can start with a few deep breaths.

Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes.

With practice, you'll learn to recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you'll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice, however, you should experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body.

Focus on Breathing

Just focusing on your breath or changing the way you breathe can make a big difference to your overall stress level. Breathing techniques can calm your body and your brain in just a few minutes.

The best news is that no one around you will know you're doing them. So whether you're in a stressful meeting or you're sitting in a crowded theater, breathing exercises could be key to reducing your stress.

While there are many different breathing exercises, like karate breathing, a few simple ones include:

  1. Breathe in through your nose and watch your belly fill with air. Count slowly to three as you inhale. Hold for one second, and then slowly breathe out through your nose as you count to three again.
  2. Breathe in through your nose and imagine that you're inhaling peaceful, calm air. Imagine that air spreading throughout your body. As you exhale, imagine that you're breathing out stress and tension.

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.

So whether you just need to take a stroll around the office to get a break from a frustrating task or you decide to go for a long walk in the park after work, walking is a simple but effective way to rejuvenate your mind and body.

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Get aHug From aLoved One

Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial.

When you hug someone, oxytocin (also known as the "cuddle hormone") is released. Oxytocin is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress.

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Oxytocin also causes a reduction in blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation.

So don't be afraid to ask a loved one for a hug if you need it. It's good for both of you and it can be one of the simplest forms of stress relief available.

Enjoy Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has real benefits for stress relief—it can help you to feel energized, more relaxed, or more present in the moment.

Emerging research suggests certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body.

So whether you enjoy candles, diffusers, or body products, consider incorporating some aromatherapy into your day.

Create Artwork

Getting in touch with your creative side may have been easy for you during childhood, but it's not too late to pick it up again if you’ve lost touch with your penchant for artwork.

If you aren't into drawing or painting, consider coloring in a coloring book. Adult coloring books have risen in popularity, and for good reason—coloring can be a great stress reliever.

Research consistently shows that coloring can have a meditative effect. One study found that anxiety levels decline in people who were coloring complex geometric patterns, making it a perfect outlet for stress reduction.

Long-Term Stress Relief Strategies

What can you do to calm mental stress over the long term? Certain habits can promote resilience to stress and increase overall wellness. For example, those whoexerciseormeditate regularlytend to become less stressed in the face of a difficult challenge.

So it's important to create a lifestyle that will help you ward off stress and deal with challenges in a healthy way.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A poor diet can bring greater reactivity toward stress.Emotional eating and reaching for high-fat, high-sugar foods can provide a temporary sense of relief that adds to your long-term stress.

Refined carbs, like cookies and potato chips, can cause a spike in blood sugar. When your blood sugar crashes, you might experience more stress and anxiety.

Consuming a healthy diet can help you combat stress over the long haul. Foods like eggs, avocado, and walnuts support mood regulation and energy balance.

Try Stress Relief Supplements

Some vitamins and supplements may have benefits for stress relief. What vitamins help with stress? A daily multivitamin may help address nutritional deficits and ensure you get the necessary vitamins and minerals to feel your best. Other supplements that may help relieve stress include:

  • Melatonin: This natural hormone can help regulate your body's circadian rhythm. Improving sleep can help you feel less stressed.
  • Ashwagandha: This adaptogenic herb is thought to help improve the body's resilience to mental and physical stress.
  • L-theanine: This amino acid has been shown to help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality.
  • B vitamins: Some research indicates that B vitamins may help lower homocysteine levels, reduce stress, and improve mood.

How Vitamins and Stress Are Related

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Make Time for Leisure Activities

Leisure activities can be a wonderful way to relieve stress. Yet, many people feel as though their lives are too busy for hobbies, games, or extra fun.

But building time for leisure into your schedule could be key to helping you feel your best. And when you feel better, you'll perform better, which means leisure time may make your work time more efficient.

Whether you find joy in caring for a garden or you like making quilts, hobbies and leisure are key to living your best life.

Develop a PositiveSelf-TalkHabit

The way you talk to yourself matters. Harsh self-criticism, self-doubt, and catastrophic predictions aren't helpful.If you're constantly thinking things like, "I don't have time for this," and "I can't stand this," you'll stress yourself out.

It's important to learn to talk to yourself in a more realistic, compassionate manner. When you call yourself names or doubt your ability to succeed, reply with a kinder inner dialogue.

Positive self-talk can help you develop a healthier outlook. And an optimistic and compassionate conversation can help you manage your emotions and take positive action.

PracticeYoga

Yoga combines physical movement, meditation, light exercise, and controlled breathing—all of which provide excellent stress relief.

And while you're likely to reap immediate benefits from a single yoga session, you're likely to receive long-term benefits if you incorporate it into your life in a consistent way.

Yoga offers a variety of physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits. To get started, you might take a class, enroll in an online program, or use an app to help you begin practicing.

Express Gratitude

Gratitude helps you recognize all the things you have to be thankful for. Whether you're grateful for a sunny day or thankful you arrived at work safely, think about all the good things you have in life.

Gratitude also reminds you of all of the resources you have to cope with stress, which can be quite empowering.

Studiesalso show grateful people enjoy better mental health, lower stress, and a better quality of life.

So whether you decide to make it a habit to identify what you're grateful for as you sit around the dinner table or you decide to write down three things you're grateful for in a gratitude journal every day, make gratitude a regular habit.

Prioritize Exercise

Physical activity is key to managing stress and improving mental health. And the best news is, there are many different kinds of activities that can reduce your stress.

Join a gym, take a class, or exercise outside. Keep in mind that there are many different ways to get more physical activity in your day too.

Walking, strength training, kayaking, hiking, and spin class are just a few different examples of ways you can get stress relief.

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Problem-Focused Coping Stress Relief.

Most stress relievers focus on changing your emotions. But sometimes, you won't necessarily get relief until you change the environment.

This is referred to as problem-focused coping (as opposed to emotion-focused coping). Problem-focused coping involves taking steps to remove the stressor from your life (as opposed to changing how you feel about the stressor).

Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how you can change your mindset to cope with stress in a healthy way.

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Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts

Reassess Your To-Do Lists

If you're trying to squeeze 20hours worth of work into 16 hours, you're going to feel stressed. Reducing your workload could be key to helping you get through the day feeling better.

Whether that means stepping away from a committee you joined or it involves hiring someone to complete some of your household chores for you,

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.

Obtain Social Support

Having supportive people in your life is the key to stress management. If you lack emotional support and friendship, it's important to get it.

That may mean reaching out to your existing network. Perhaps confiding in a family member or distant friend can help you become closer and it may give you the social support you need.

You may also need to expand your network. Join an organization, attend a support group, or get professional help if you lack supportive people in your life.

Cut out Things That Add to Your Stress

Sometimes, the best way to reduce your stress is to cut something out of your life. Get rid of the things that are adding to your stress so you can experience more peace.

Watching the news, being constantly connected to your digital devices, drinking alcohol, and consuming too much caffeine are just a few of the things that may add more stress to your life. Making some changes to your daily habits could be instrumental in helping you feel better.

A Word From Verywell

Finding the best stress relief strategies may take some experimenting. Some strategies may take practice too.

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But it's important to keep looking for the tools that will help you manage life's inevitable ups and downs in a healthy way. Keeping stress at a manageable level is important for your overall well-being.

FAQs

What are 20 ways to relieve stress? ›

20 Ways to Reduce Stress
  1. Breathe. Simple breathing exercises once an hour are proven to reduce stress. ...
  2. Laugh. Laugh at a funny YouTube video, or a joke among friends. ...
  3. Find quiet. Sit in a quiet room, or outside away from the office noise. ...
  4. Music. ...
  5. Walk. ...
  6. Pray. ...
  7. Dark chocolate. ...
  8. Rest.
16 Feb 2019

What are 15 ways to reduce stress? ›

15 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
  • Exercise. You don't need a gym to exercise. ...
  • Go outside. Connect with nature in your backyard. ...
  • Aromatherapy. Pull out those old scented candles and inhale a calming scent. ...
  • Journal. ...
  • Listen to calming music. ...
  • Sing. ...
  • Laugh. ...
  • Connect.
2 Apr 2020

What are 6 ways to manage stress? ›

6 ways to help manage daily stress more effectively:
  1. Talk, Talk, Talk! Turn to family and friends, or even a trained therapist, to discuss things in your life that are causing stress. ...
  2. Exercise Regularly. ...
  3. Engage in Meditation. ...
  4. Healthy Diet. ...
  5. Stay Organized. ...
  6. Practice Positive Self-talk.

What are the 5 stress management? ›

5 tips to manage stress
  • Use guided meditation. Guided meditation is a great way to distract yourself from the stress of day-to-day life. ...
  • Practice deep breathing. ...
  • Maintain physical exercise and good nutrition. ...
  • Manage social media time. ...
  • Connect with others.
10 Dec 2018

How can I relieve stress fast at home? ›

25 Quick Ways to Reduce Stress
  1. Breathe. Slow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. ...
  2. Listen to Music. ...
  3. Take a Quick Walk. ...
  4. Find the Sun. ...
  5. Give Yourself a Hand Massage. ...
  6. Count Backward. ...
  7. Stretch. ...
  8. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball.

How can students relieve stress fast? ›

How to Manage Stress in College: 7 Key Tips
  1. Get Enough Sleep. Getting both quality sleep and enough sleep offers a variety of health benefits, including reducing stress and improving your mood. ...
  2. Eat Well. ...
  3. Exercise Regularly. ...
  4. Don't Rely on Stimulants. ...
  5. Set Realistic Expectations. ...
  6. Avoid Procrastinating. ...
  7. Identify a Stress Outlet.

What is a great stress reliever? ›

Fortunately, several evidence-based strategies can help you reduce stress and improve your overall psychological well-being. Exercise, mindfulness, spending time with a pet, minimizing screen time, and getting outside more often are all effective methods.

What is an effective method to manage stress and its effects? ›

The ones that focus on slow movement, stretching, and deep breathing are best for lowering your anxiety and stress. Meditation. It has been around for over 5,000 years for a reason. Meditation works well for many people and has many benefits.

How can I reduce stress and overthinking? ›

Tips for addressing ruminating thoughts
  1. Distract yourself. When you realize you're starting to ruminate, finding a distraction can break your thought cycle. ...
  2. Plan to take action. ...
  3. Take action. ...
  4. Question your thoughts. ...
  5. Readjust your life's goals. ...
  6. Work on enhancing your self-esteem. ...
  7. Try meditation. ...
  8. Understand your triggers.
15 Nov 2019

How can I relieve stress at work? ›

Taking steps to manage stress
  1. Track your stressors. Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. ...
  2. Develop healthy responses. ...
  3. Establish boundaries. ...
  4. Take time to recharge. ...
  5. Learn how to relax. ...
  6. Talk to your supervisor. ...
  7. Get some support.
1 Jul 2014

How can I reduce anxiety naturally? ›

10 natural remedies for anxiety
  1. Stay active. ...
  2. Steer clear of alcohol. ...
  3. Consider quitting smoking cigarettes. ...
  4. Limit caffeine intake. ...
  5. Prioritize getting a good night's rest. ...
  6. Meditate and practice mindfulness. ...
  7. Eat a balanced diet. ...
  8. Practice deep breathing.
15 Dec 2021

What is a stress management plan? ›

Your stress management plan should include the following: A list of your triggers. What are the things that stress you out? It can be any number of things like workload, lack of time, finances, health, family members, people at work or watching the news. It is important to know your triggers.

What are 3 examples of stress management? ›

Some of these stress-relieving activities may work for you:
  • Play with your kids or pets – outdoors, if possible.
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Meditate or practice yoga.
  • Work in the garden or do a home improvement project.
  • Go for a walk, run or bike ride to clear your head.
  • Read a book, short story or magazine.
4 Oct 2021

What are the 4 stress management techniques? ›

Fortunately, there are 4 steps to help reduce stress and cope with the inevitable stressors of everyday life:
  • Avoid. Believe it or not, it is possible to escape some of the minor stressors that tend to trouble people: ...
  • Alter. Communicate clearly and let people know your expectations. ...
  • Accept. ...
  • Adapt.
8 Mar 2021

What are the three steps to manage stress? ›

The Three Steps of Stress Management
  1. Determine the current stressors within your life.
  2. Identify ways to reduce the stressors.
  3. Make changes and prioritize your life accordingly.

How can I be happy and relax? ›

How to be happier
  1. Manage your stress levels. If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it, such as learning a few time-management techniques. ...
  2. Enjoy yourself. ...
  3. Boost your self-esteem. ...
  4. Have a healthy lifestyle. ...
  5. Talk and share. ...
  6. Build your resilience.

What is the most relaxing activity? ›

While 93% of those in the study found knitting to be the most relaxing, other hobbies such as fishing, blogging and calligraphy were also praised for their ability to improve our wellbeing.

Can stress Make You Sick? ›

Chronic stress — stress that occurs consistently over a long period of time — can have a negative impact on a person's immune system and physical health. If you are constantly under stress, you may experience physical symptoms such as chest pain, headaches, an upset stomach, trouble sleeping or high blood pressure.

Why is it important to manage stress? ›

Preventing and managing long-term stress can lower your risk for other conditions — like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. You can prevent or reduce stress by: Planning ahead. Deciding which tasks to do first.

What is a great stress reliever? ›

Fortunately, several evidence-based strategies can help you reduce stress and improve your overall psychological well-being. Exercise, mindfulness, spending time with a pet, minimizing screen time, and getting outside more often are all effective methods.

Does crying relieve stress? ›

Many people associate crying with feeling sad and making them feel worse, but in reality, crying can help improve your mood - emotional tears release stress hormones. Your stress level lowers when you cry, which can help you sleep better and strengthen your immune system.

What is the 3 3 3 rule anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

How can I reduce my stress in 5 minutes? ›

1. Brief relaxation
  1. Sit with a straight, relaxed back.
  2. Focus your attention on your breath and let all other thoughts disappear.
  3. Do a few, slow, deep breathes (breathing with your lower belly instead of your chest).
  4. Inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts.
  5. Focus your attention on each muscle in your body.

How can students relieve stress fast? ›

How to Manage Stress in College: 7 Key Tips
  1. Get Enough Sleep. Getting both quality sleep and enough sleep offers a variety of health benefits, including reducing stress and improving your mood. ...
  2. Eat Well. ...
  3. Exercise Regularly. ...
  4. Don't Rely on Stimulants. ...
  5. Set Realistic Expectations. ...
  6. Avoid Procrastinating. ...
  7. Identify a Stress Outlet.

How can I relieve anxiety and stress fast? ›

From eating chocolate to meditating, there is a quick stress-relieving tactic for everyone.
  1. Breathe. Slow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. ...
  2. Listen to Music. ...
  3. Take a Quick Walk. ...
  4. Find the Sun. ...
  5. Give Yourself a Hand Massage. ...
  6. Count Backward. ...
  7. Stretch. ...
  8. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball.

How can I reduce stress and overthinking? ›

Tips for addressing ruminating thoughts
  1. Distract yourself. When you realize you're starting to ruminate, finding a distraction can break your thought cycle. ...
  2. Plan to take action. ...
  3. Take action. ...
  4. Question your thoughts. ...
  5. Readjust your life's goals. ...
  6. Work on enhancing your self-esteem. ...
  7. Try meditation. ...
  8. Understand your triggers.
15 Nov 2019

What are the 5 causes of stress? ›

What causes stress?
  • Feel under lots of pressure.
  • Face big changes in your life.
  • Are worried about something.
  • Don't have much or any control over the outcome of a situation.
  • Have responsibilities that you find overwhelming.
  • Don't have enough work, activities or change in your life.
  • Experience discrimination, hate or abuse.

Do men cry? ›

According to the poll of 2,004 Americans, men cry on average about four times a month. Women, on the other hand, weep about three times in a given month. That's 48 times a year for men and only 36 for women.

Which hormone is responsible for stress? ›

Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Is anxiety a mental illness? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

What are the 3 rules of mental health? ›

These are the “Three Rules” that influence the thinking, choices and behaviors of those who live with mental health issues, substance misuse and addiction. The rules are: “Don't talk,” “Don't trust,” and Don't feel.”

How do I train my brain to stop anxiety? ›

By writing down your worries, you feel as though you're emptying your brain, and you feel lighter and less tense. Take time to acknowledge your worries and write them down. Explore the roots of your worries or problems. Once you know the most important things you worry about, ask yourself if your worries are solvable.

How can I be happy and relax? ›

How to be happier
  1. Manage your stress levels. If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it, such as learning a few time-management techniques. ...
  2. Enjoy yourself. ...
  3. Boost your self-esteem. ...
  4. Have a healthy lifestyle. ...
  5. Talk and share. ...
  6. Build your resilience.

Videos

1. How to Relieve Stress and Anxiety - 6 Helpful Strategies
(Practical Psychology)
2. How stress affects your brain - Madhumita Murgia
(TED-Ed)
3. Tools for Managing Stress & Anxiety | Huberman Lab Podcast #10
(Andrew Huberman)
4. How to Manage Stress as a Student
(Med School Insiders)
5. 18 Habits for a Stress-Free Life | Intentional Living + Self Care
(Abundantly Minimal)
6. 20 Minute Guided Meditation for Reducing Anxiety and Stress--Clear the Clutter to Calm Down
(The Mindful Movement)
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