Learn about stress relief as an integral part of psychological well-being. Discover different stress-relieving activities and tools.
Stress is the result of continuous overwhelming demands on your time and energy which cause mental and emotional strain. This is an issue that plagues most people in the modern-day world. Trying to keep up with your family, friends, career, health, and hobbies can be taxing on your physical and mental health. Yet, there are many ways to relieve stress such as listening to music or spending time outside.
It is important to find the tools that work for you as stress can have a multitude of negative consequences including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, insomnia, and ulcers (Quick et al., 1987).
What Is Stress Relief?
Stress relief is when the feeling of stress lessens or goes away altogether. Sometimes this happens naturally if the source of your stress is suddenly not a problem anymore. However, stress relief is often a responsibility that falls on you since people and situations are mostly out of your control. The one thing you do have control over is how you respond to these situations. Learning tips, tools, and techniques that instill a feeling of calm inside of you can help mitigate stressful circumstances. Try the activities and other suggestions in this article and build your stress relief toolbox—a collection of strategies that you can pull out the next time you feel overwhelmed.
There are many ways to relieve stress. The following activities are some of the most common.
Physical activity can be an effective stress reliever. Find the activity you like best and incorporate it into your routine–bonus points if you get outside to do it. Even 5-10 minutes of physical activity can help ease feelings of anxiety.
Sometimes going within yourself to discover and remedy the reasons behind your stress is necessary. Try the following introspective activities to gain better insight and peace of mind over what might be overwhelming you.
Create a vision board
Connect with other people
Even if you aren’t a social butterfly by nature, building connections and maintaining healthy relationships with other people is another way to combat stress. Try some of the following activities to harness the benefits of connecting with others.
Call a friend to chat.
Volunteer with an organization.
Watch a funny movie with loved ones.
Drinking tea is one way that many people wind down and relax. Some teas may be infused with herbs to enhance the calming effect. You should try and avoid teas containing caffeine, such as black or green tea, if you are aiming to relax. Caffeine can cause your heart rate to increase which can also trigger anxiety. Stick to herbal, caffeine-free teas to relax with.
Not sure what flavor of tea you like? You can buy a sampler of teas to find the combination you like the best. Also, you can add honey to your tea as a natural sweetener.
Listen to Music
Listening to music can be a very relaxing activity. It gives you a chance to rest your eyes which are likely fatigued from phone and computer use. To maximize stress relief while listening to music, get into a comfortable position with a blanket and headphones. Try not to get distracted by using your phone and immerse yourself in the music. You can listen to your favorite artist, search for calming music on YouTube, or listen to the following video with relaxing music for stress relief.
Meditation is another practice that can be utilized for stress reduction (Grossman et al., 2004). While it can be practiced intermittently, developing a daily meditation routine can help you reap the most benefits. Regularly taking time to slow down and appreciate the small moments in your life can help cut stress off from the start. You can start small with just 5 minutes of practice a day and then work your way up to ten or twenty minutes. Try to be patient with yourself when starting a new meditation practice. Over time it can become easier to create a calm space in your own mind.
Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods
Magnesium is a nutrient that plays a role in your body’s stress responses and eating foods higher in magnesium may be one way to help combat stress. Try adding some of the following foods to your diet and see if it makes a difference in the way you feel.
Foods high in magnesium:
Dark leafy greens
Other Ways to Relieve Stress
There is no right or wrong way to relieve stress and what works for one person may not work for another. You have probably heard of most of the activities mentioned so far. Consider some of them in the following list of unconventional stress-relieving activities.
Eat something crunchy.
(Literally) dance like nobody's watching
Color for calmness
Gaze at fractal videos
Knit or crochet Spend time gardening
Sit in the sunshine
Use stress-relieving scents, like peppermint and lavender, for aromatherapy
Stress can be the cause of many negative health consequences, not to mention that it just isn’t a pleasant state to be in. Finding ways to relieve your stress is an important part of maintaining your physical and mental health. Try incorporating exercise–even just ten minutes a day–to get aerobic activity while relieving stress. You could also try a more low-key activity such as daily journaling or meditating. The important thing is to find tools that work for you. Try adding these activities into your regular routines to head off stress before it has a chance to catch up with you.
Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57(1), 35–43.
Quick, J. D., Horn, R. S., Quick, J. C. (1987). Health consequences of stress. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 8(2), 19–36.