100 Ways to Reduce Stress (& Anxiety)
100 Strategies and ideas for ways to reduce stress, or prevent stress and burn out, which can trigger anxiety, and anxiety disorders.
When stressful challenges occur, our body senses danger and responds by releasing hormones into our bloodstream, which speed up our heart, breathing, and other physical processes and prepare us to react fast for avoiding threat. This natural reaction is known as the stress response.
In fact, Seaward (2006) had made a statement that between 70 and 80 percent of all diseases and illnesses are stress related, and the leading causes of our death are lifestyle diseases. Yet we do not need statistics to tell us that if we feel stressed, exhausted, and creatively depleted when we do not care for ourselves.
How to Reduce Stress & Anxiety - 100 Ways
Let's explore the different stress reducing strategies!
The first domain to examine for ways to reduce stress is the space around you. What can you see, smell, hear, touch and taste? What makes you drop your shoulders and say, “Ahhhh”? Look for ways to bring beauty to your environment.
Here are a few things to get you started:
1. Enjoy being 2. Light a scented candle 3. Try aromatherapy 4. Bake bread or cookies 5. Adjust lighting 6. Plant flowers 7. Buy a bouquet for yourself 8. Create a collection of things you love 9. Put up a birdfeeder and watch it 10. Read in the sunshine 11. Sip a hot drink/ iced drink 12. Snuggle under a blanket with a book
The second domain to address when reducing stress is how you think about and perceive information. Mental interpretations determine your emotional reaction, so dwelling on problems, thinking of the worst-case scenarios, and berating yourself over mistakes will all increase your levels of stress. Alternatively, allowing yourself to make mistakes and move on, thinking of the best possible scenarios, and interpreting mistakes as necessary growth opportunities will reduce your stress load.
Here are some cognitive strategies to reduce stress:
13. Reframe the problem 14. Choose positive thoughts 15. Meditate on positive words 16. Practice positive affirmations 17. Take responsibility for your thoughts 18. Have realistic expectations 19. Visualize the outcome you desire 20. Post affirmations on a mirror 21. Work a puzzle/game
Creativity is a great way to channel stress into beauty. Use the arts to relax and process your challenges at the same time. Product is not as important as process.
These are some creative strategies to alleviate stress:
22. Journal Write 23. Write a letter 24. Paint 25. Draw 26. Spend an afternoon in photography 27. Create pottery/work with clay 28. Knit/Crochet/Needlework 29. Stroke a pet 30. Listen to/compose relaxing music 31. Play an instrument 32. Attend a concert 33. Start a new hobby 34. Garden
Often, you will feel stress in your body through tight muscles, nervous movement, and stiffness. To reduce stress, move your body through stretching, aerobic exercise, or rhythmic motion. Care for your body by making healthy nutritional decisions.
Try the following to reduce stress physically:
35. Dance 36. Bicycle 37. Run 38. Take a nature walk/hike 39. Walk the dog 40. Train for a walking/marathon fundraiser 41. Swim 42. Snorkel 43. Get a massage 44. Give yourself a foot massage 45. Soak your feet in warm water 46. Enjoy a steamy bubble bath 47. Take a yoga class 48. Practice t’ai chi 49. Do progressive muscular relaxation 50. Frequently practice deep breathing 51. Check out an exercise video 52. Choose a healthy diet 53. Drink pure water 54. Take a multivitamin
A saying I have around my house is that in some situations you just have to laugh or cry, and you may like to choose to laugh. Laughter diffuses tension. Have you ever said, “I needed a good laugh”?
Do something humorous to chuckle away your serious stress:
55. Go see a movie comedy 56. Watch a funny sitcom 57. Read a book of comics 58. Laugh out loud 59. Tell a friend a new joke 60. Giggle with a girlfriend
We are holistic beings, and the spiritual part of us can help soothe stress, too.
Try these spiritual strategies as a preventative measure for stress:
61. Pray 62. Meditate 63. Practice gratefulness 64. Participate in a religious service 65. Sing joyful songs/hymns 66. Seek to serve others
Some stress is created or increased because of procrastination, disorganization, and inattention to details. By managing time, money, plans, and clutter, you can make a difference in how you feel in as little as 15 minutes.
Some management strategies are:
67. Manage time 68. Prioritize tasks 69. Delegate 70. Make and follow a budget 71. Problem solve one dilemma 72. Clean a room 73. Organize a closet/cabinet 74. Set goals 75. Make a life list 76. Use mental imagery of success
As long as we interact with people, we will have relational stress. This is even more important in relationships that are meaningful to us. But, just as relationships may create stress, they are also a source for reducing stress.
Try these relational strategies to decrease stress:
77. Cook a special meal for someone 78. Be kindly assertive 79. Vent to a friend 80. Meet someone for lunch/coffee 81. Call a friend 82. Get a manicure 83. Get a haircut and enjoy the wash 84. Email an old friend 85. Join a social-support group 86. Join an exercise class/group 87. Forgive a hurt 88. Volunteer 89. Do something just for fun
We began with environmental strategies, and we will end with outdoor strategies. Being outside can adjust our attitude by, quite literally, giving us a new perspective. No matter what the weather or temperature, you can implement outdoor strategies for a quick or leisurely stress reliever.
Some outdoor strategies that might be helpful are:
90. Sit on a park bench and use the senses 91. Stroll through a zoo or aquarium 92. Star gaze 93. Spend a few hours boating/yachting 94. Take a scenic drive 95. Build a sandcastle 96. Build a snowman 97. Listen to the crackle of a campfire 98. Picnic near water 99. Go out to dinner 100. Window shop
Now you have 100 things that you can do to reduce stress, but they will not help if they are simply ideas on paper. Choose at least one and try it now. Make a plan (a management strategy) to incorporate one stress management strategy every day for the next week. Step outside for a brisk 10 minute walk and combine both a physical and an outdoor strategy.
Finally, use these ideas to generate other ideas that work well for you!
Self Love Always - Eve Houseman MBACP