Stress relief: 17 simple ways to relieve stress effectively

Lisa Walden
·7-min read
Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

From Country Living

What is the fastest way to relieve stress? From heading outside on a soul-soothing countryside walk to taking on a new hobby, there are countless stress-relief strategies to help you feel more at ease and less anxious.

When stress becomes overwhelming it can feel chaotic and all-consuming. Whether you feel stressed from the pressures of work, family life or existing financial worries, it can be easy to let everything get the better of you.

Some of the signs of stress include...

  1. Constantly feeling worried or anxious

  2. Feeling overwhelmed

  3. Feeling depressed

  4. Low self-esteem

  5. Difficulty relaxing

  6. Changes in your sleeping habit

To help you overcome any feelings of stress, we have researched 17 simple mood-boosting ways to help you feel better. Remember, if you are feeling stressed for a prolonged period of time it's always best to seek advice from your local GP.

1. Write it down

A simple way to put your mind at ease is to jot down the things which are causing you stress. It's a good idea to do this before you go to sleep to stop you from lying awake worrying. As well as noting down what you're anxious about, another way to relieve nervousness is by making a list of everything you're grateful for. Write down a list of thankfulness, at any time of day, and watch how it boosts your mood.

Why not try this 'happiness jar' wellness hack to remind you of the joys in the everyday.

2. Spend time with friends and family

It can be challenging facing a busy day when you feel you are fighting off nervousness, a racing heart or tension. One good way to relieve stress is by spending time with your close friends and family, if you can. Whether it's heading out for a much-needed walk in the countryside or calling your friend via Zoom, being with a loved one will help encourage you to talk about how you feel.

Photo credit: LeoPatrizi - Getty Images
Photo credit: LeoPatrizi - Getty Images

3. Head outside

Spending time in nature has been proven to boost moods, improve our wellbeing and increase levels of happiness. If you're feeling sluggish or under the weather, why not slip on your walking boots and head outside for some soul-soothing fresh air.

Previous research has shown that we have a deep relationship with nature and just two hours spent outside can drastically improve our health.

4. Laugh

Laughter really is the best medicine. As well as being good for your health, laughing helps to relax your muscles and relieve your stress response. Whether you watch your favourite comedy show or spend time with friends, laughing frequently will promise to boost your mood — and help to get rid of any anxious thoughts.

5. Learn to say no

Don't feel guilty about saying no if you feel like you need to. Not everything that happens is in your control, but by saying no to things you can put your health and wellbeing first. Filling up our diaries can add to our stress levels, so it's important you know when to say no.

Photo credit: MundusImages - Getty Images
Photo credit: MundusImages - Getty Images

6. Do some exercise

Whether you enjoy participating in a yoga class or prefer to head outdoors for a beach-front run, doing regular exercise will help to clear your mind and boost your mood. Carving some time in your day to stretch, run or swim will help you to unwind and destress.

7. Spending time with your pet

It comes as no surprise that our pets can help to reduce our levels of anxiety and stress, as well as making us happier. If you don't have a dog, ask to have a cuddle with one of your friend's pups or sign up to petsit someone who has gone on holiday. Whether you're suffering from anxiety, stress or high blood pressure, spending time with a pup is certain to bring some guaranteed joy.

Photo credit: Carolin Voelker - Getty Images
Photo credit: Carolin Voelker - Getty Images

8. Have some 'me time'

According to the NHS, the UK has some of the longest working hours in Europe. Setting aside some time every week to have some 'me time' will give you space to rejuvenate and refresh. From having a long soak in the bath to reading your favourite book, make some time every few days to indulge in the things that truly bring you joy.

9. Help other people

According to new research conducted by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, the key to boosting your mood could lie in the simple act of kindness. The study found that people felt happier when they gave back to others around them. Why not make time to volunteer, grab someone a coffee or make someone a meal. You might find that doing something kind for someone else will help you to feel better, too.

10. Try to be positive

It's easier said than done, but trying to think positively throughout the day will help you through stressful periods. Make a list of the three things you are thankful for and keep reading them throughout the day.

Tip: Listen to an audio guide on beating unhelpful thinking

11. Meditate

Meditation is a great short-term stress relief at any time of day. There are many different forms of meditation, so there's something for everyone to have a go at. Head over to mindful.org for a list of the best meditation apps.

12. Get crafting

Painting and drawing have both been proven to help to reduce stress and anxiety, thanks to their relaxing nature. Why not get creative and have a play around with a pen and paper. Not only will you feel more at ease, but you'll learn a new skill, too.

Photo credit: Alena Kravchenko - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alena Kravchenko - Getty Images

13. Avoid unhealthy habits

Don't rely on unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking or strong caffeine as a way to relieve stress. It can be tempting to reach for a glass of wine after a long day, but these crutches won't solve your problems – they'll just create new ones.

"It's like putting your head in the sand," Professor Cooper tells the NHS. "It might provide temporary relief, but it won't make the problems disappear. You need to tackle the cause of your stress."

14. Work smarter, not harder

Working smarter and not harder involves better managing your time, and knowing what needs to get done and when. You'll find you have more time in the day to do what you love and will still be able to tick things off your to-do list.

Every morning set a clear strategy to prioritise your most important activities so you end each day feeling productive. If you're finding it hard to concentrate, give yourself 15-2o minute 'power working' short bursts followed by a break. It's also worth grouping similar activities together to help you stay focused, instead of balancing everything at once.

15. Prioritise your sleep

Creating a regular bedtime routine will help the brain unwind, relax, and recognise that it's time for sleep. If you're feeling stressed, getting enough sleep the following night will help you to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Try not to use your screen before bed to avoid tossing and turning at night. To get the best shut eye, try reading a book or running yourself a bath before you climb into bed.

Photo credit: Johner Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Johner Images - Getty Images

16. Deep breathing

Feeling stressed? A great way to turn on your body's natural ability to relax is by breathing deeply a few times a day. To create a state of deep rest, try putting your hand on your chest, closing your eyes and taking deep breaths in through your nose. Repeat a few times throughout the day and you should find yourself feeling more at ease.

17. Get your hands on relaxing scents

Create an atmosphere of calm with the right soothing scents. From diffusers to candles, there are plenty of scents that can help calm the mind and body almost instantly. Look out for stress-relieving lavender, bergamot and chamomile.

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