15 Ways To Relieve Stress ASAP (2022)

Stress is a normal part of the human experience. It's actually programmed into us: an incredible hold-over from our primal days meant to keep us safe from danger. But now that we're no longer in direct harm from hunting for our next meal, stress is more likely to be triggered by non-life-threatening experiences, like issues at work or family annoyances.

While triggers of stress can sometimes seem trivial, the effects stress has on our bodies are not. Stress can leave us feeling uncomfortable, sick, or even in pain—and finding ways to manage it are crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Health spoke with several experts on how to relieve stress nearly instantly or over time using a variety of methods. Here are 15 things you can do right now to help you start feeling calmer.

It can be difficult to show gratitude for anything when it feels like the world is falling down around you. But showing gratitude for the smallest things, like a warm cup of tea or a sunny day can lift your spirits and reduce anxiety, Gail Saltz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and host of the Personology podcast, told Health. If possible, start a daily gratitude journal where you list what you're grateful for that day, turning the stress-relieving habit into a routine.

(Video) 7 Simple Tips To Reduce Your STRESS Right Now

Get Some Rest

Neuroscientist Matthew P. Walker, PhD, author of Why We Sleep, has firmly believed in sleep as your "superpower." According to one of his sleep studies published in 2017 in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, those who are sleep-deprived were more reactive to emotionally negative stimuli than those with a proper night's rest. If you're feeling more stressed than usual, assess your previous night's rest and try to hit the hay a little earlier or slip in a midday nap to refresh your brain.

A 2021 survey of adult pet owners with at least one pet, conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) revealed 87% of them experienced mental health improvements from owning a pet. Alongside providing a form of therapy, owning a pet can add a level of structure, routine, as well as additional exercise to your lifestyle, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. According to Sandra Barker, PhD, director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, hanging out with a dog after a stressful event greatly reduces your cortisol levels and possibly buffers the impact of the event.

Try To Meditate

Meditation is easily one of the most science-backed and proven methods of relieving stress and anxiety. There are several types focusing on music, breathing, postures, and more: You can easily find a method that works for you to relieve stress. "Specifically the practice of mindful meditation has been shown to reduce stress," Dr. Saltz told Health. "There are numerous apps that can get you started. It's not hard to learn, but it takes practice."

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Spending time in nature has a profound effect on our stress levels. According to research psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of The Joy of Movement, incorporating a little nature every day is beneficial to managing your stress levels. Getting to a park every day may not be easy, but even a short daily walk outside will suffice and help you clear your head.

Trigger a Pressure Point

There's a spot between the tendons—about two or three finger-widths above the center of your inner wrist—called the pericardium 6 (PC6) that is essentially like a stress-release button. According to Nada Milosavljevic, MD, medical director of BodyLogicMD, applying pressure to this point has been used to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting and has a therapeutic effect on those dealing with chronic stress and anxiety.

One of Dr. Saltz's favorite de-stressing techniques actually involves tensing your muscles, holding them in that tense position for 5 to 10 seconds, and then releasing, creating an almost-instant feeling of relaxation. This is known as progressive muscle relaxation, and you can work different groups of muscles all over your body, per MedlinePlus. "This practice reduces stress through the mind-body connection—when we're feeling very stressed, we tense up our bodies," Dr. Saltz said. "And when we tense up our bodies, it reinforces the message to your mind to be stressed. It's a signal of physiological arousal. Doing what you can to relax your body helps relax your mind."

(Video) Fast Relaxation Session - 15 minute stress relief music

Clean Up Your Space

Check your desk: If the mess is adding to your stress, give it a quick clean. Cleaning up can help create a feeling of control when your environment feels chaotic, while your newly organized space can bring a new sense of clarity and calm. Chaotic environments create more stress, according to Susan Biali Haas, MD, wellness expert and author of Live a Life You Love. "When you engage your senses, like touch, it takes you out of your stressed-out mind and has a meditative effect," Dr. Haas said. Set a timer for 10 minutes and organize what you can for an instant space and mind refresh.

Dr. Saltz recommended doing any form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, three or four times a week, which is great for stress, anxiety, and improving your mood. Some examples of heart rate-boosting activities include a light jog, dance cardio, or sex. Dr. Saltz encouraged you to find an activity that you find the most fun and stick with it. If possible, squeeze it in before work, during your lunch break, or even make exercise a family activity after work by taking a walk.

Embrace Your Inner Child and Play

When was the last time you colored, played hide and seek, or watched cartoons? Dr. Saltz believed that embracing playtime as an adult—especially if you have your kids around to play with—can be amazing for decreasing stress. However, determining what that is is entirely up to you and your childhood. Don't be afraid to get silly and embrace whatever uniqueness comes to mind.

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Social support is a huge component of a healthy life. According to a Journal of Affective Disorders Reports study published in April 2021, loneliness has been associated with a significant level of psychological stress. Therefore, if loneliness is adding to your stress, call a friend or family member to chat, Dr. Saltz recommended. "Social support is definitely a stress-reliever," Dr. Saltz told Health. "Talking with people that you feel connected to, trust, and can share your feelings with is important." This includes a therapist as well if your stress is feeling prolonged.

Set Work-Life Boundaries

Setting boundaries for how far you decide to stretch yourself can be great for managing your stress levels in the present, but especially in the future. "Setting boundaries and having discrete relaxation time or playtime is key," Dr. Saltz said.

Journaling is a great cognitive-behavioral method of releasing negative emotions and reducing stress and anxiety. "Journaling is another method of expressing your feelings, reviewing them, reprocessing them," Dr. Saltz told Health. However, Dr. Saltz understood that journaling isn't always a substitute for talking about your emotions with a trusted person in your life. The method works best in conjunction with social support.

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Try Hatha Yoga

Yoga has been practiced for centuries for its physical and mental benefits, using muscle strengthening and breathing exercises to establish calm and reduce anxiety in those practicing it. A February 2018 study in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that women who practiced hatha yoga three times a week for four weeks—or 12 sessions overall—reported lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, compared to those levels before starting their yoga practice. Hatha yoga is one of the most beginner-friendly forms of yoga, focusing on deep breathing and gentle movements to relax and calm the body.

Dr. Saltz is a fan of the sweet spot between meditation and full-blown physical exercise, which are deep-breathing exercises, and the psycho-physiological effects deep breathing has on relieving stress. Simply breathing in, holding, and releasing to counts of five can do wonders in slowing your heart rate and hitting a virtual reset button on whatever activity was causing you stress, Dr. Saltz said. The best part about this tactic is that it can be done pretty much anywhere.

If you're looking for other ways to decrease your level of stress, the American Heart Association and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) both offer stress management strategies you could potentially use as well.

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FAQs

How can I immediately calm stress? ›

When stress, anxiety or fear flare up, these 9 techniques help keep you calmer.
  1. Just breathe. ...
  2. Close your eyes and count to 10 slowly. ...
  3. Chew a piece of gum. ...
  4. Phone a friend – preferably a funny one. ...
  5. Smell lavender. ...
  6. Curl up with your cat or dog. ...
  7. Listen to calming music. ...
  8. Exercise your body.
7 Jan 2021

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

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 I calm myself in 1 minute? ›

Deep breathing:
  1. When tense, we often breathe from the upper chest. A full, deep breath helps relieve tension.
  2. Take a deep breath, letting your abdomen expand fully.
  3. Hold it for about 3 seconds.
  4. Let your breath out all at once (with a sigh if you want).
  5. As you exhale, relax your jaw and shoulders. Think calm…

How do I calm down in 2 minutes? ›

This Is How You Can Calm Yourself Down In Just 2 Minutes
  1. Breathe, breathe and breathe. Take deep breaths and inhale at least for three seconds and then exhale for another three. ...
  2. Walk barefoot. ...
  3. Focus on your breath and words. ...
  4. Sit in a proper posture. ...
  5. Relax like a baby. ...
  6. Take a walk. ...
  7. Listen to music.
2 Sept 2016

What are 12 ways to deal with stress? ›

Physical activity is a natural stress buster.
...
  • Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet can help relax muscles and reduce anxiety. ...
  • Reduce caffeine and sugar. ...
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. ...
  • Get plenty of sleep. ...
  • Supplement with magnesium. ...
  • Identify professionals who can help.
16 Feb 2018

What are 10 ways to manage stress? ›

10 Ways to Manage Everyday Stress
  1. Balance work and play. Make time to work on your tasks and goals (like schoolwork, chores, or practice). ...
  2. Plan your day. ...
  3. Stick to your plan. ...
  4. Ask for help when you need it. ...
  5. Use the positive energy of stress. ...
  6. Deal with problems as they come up. ...
  7. Eat good foods. ...
  8. Get enough sleep.

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.

How can I be happy and relax? ›

Easy ways to relax
  1. Breathe it out. Breathing exercises are one of the simplest relaxation strategies, and can effectively calm your stressed-out body and mind anywhere at any time. ...
  2. Release physical tension. ...
  3. Write down your thoughts. ...
  4. Make a list. ...
  5. Visualize your calm. ...
  6. Connect to nature.

How can I relax in 60 seconds? ›

Close your eyes and count slowly (either in your head or out loud). Doing this for 60 seconds with your eyes closed can help you concentrate on your breathing, and ultimately lower your heart rate while calming your mind and body. Be grateful. Pause for a moment and count your blessings.

What is the secret of calmness? ›

Breathe yourself calm,” says the psychologist Linda Blair. “Inhale slowly through your nose, counting to three, hold your breath, and then breathe out for six counts.” Ten of those, she says, will reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost feelings of wellbeing.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for 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 do you destress in 30 seconds? ›

Don't have the time for deep breathing and exercise? Try these fun ways to lower your blood pressure and ease your mind.
...
The 5 Ways To Feel More Relaxed In Just 30 Seconds
  1. Laugh. A big belly laugh can have all kinds of positive effects on your body. ...
  2. Eat an Orange. ...
  3. Go Outside. ...
  4. Rub On Rose Oil. ...
  5. Walk Into Another Room.
3 Oct 2016

What are 7 positive ways to deal with stress? ›

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. ...
  • Take care of yourself. ...
  • Take care of your body. ...
  • Make time to unwind. ...
  • Talk to others. ...
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.

What are 6 ways to reduce stress? ›

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

What are 3 ways to reduce stress? ›

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.

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.

Is it better to cry or hold it in? ›

It's best not to hold in emotions all the time, but sometimes it's important to hold back tears. If you need to control a cry, try to hold back your tears just until you're in a better place for them. This way you won't suppress your emotions altogether.

Is it OK to cry everyday? ›

Crying for No Reason

And if you are tearful everyday over activities that are normal in your life, that may be depression. And that's not normal and it is treatable.

How long can you cry for? ›

A newer study found that the average duration for a crying session was eight minutes. If you're concerned that you're crying too much, if you can't seem to stop crying, or have started crying more than usual, talk to your doctor. It may be a sign of depression or another mood disorder.

How do I empty my mind? ›

8 Ways to Give Your Mind a Deep Cleaning
  1. Be mindful.
  2. Start writing.
  3. Put on music.
  4. Get some sleep.
  5. Take a walk.
  6. Tidy up.
  7. Unfocus.
  8. Talk about it.
10 Nov 2020

What are 5 effective ways to relax? ›

How can you relax your mind and body?
  1. Take slow, deep breaths. Or try other breathing exercises for relaxation. ...
  2. Soak in a warm bath.
  3. Listen to soothing music.
  4. Practice mindful meditation. ...
  5. Write. ...
  6. Use guided imagery.

What are the 3 R's rest relax? ›

The Three R's: Rest, Relaxation and Rejuvenation.

What are 6 stress reducing techniques? ›

Other relaxation techniques may include:
  • Deep breathing.
  • Massage.
  • Meditation.
  • Tai chi.
  • Yoga.
  • Biofeedback.
  • Music and art therapy.
  • Aromatherapy.

What are 3 ways to de stress? ›

10 Quick Ways to De-Stress
  • Practice breathing exercises. Focus on your breath, pushing all other thoughts aside. ...
  • Meditate. Meditation helps quiet your mind. ...
  • Mindfulness. ...
  • Practice gratitude. ...
  • Call a support person. ...
  • Do relaxation exercises. ...
  • Exercise. ...
  • Immerse yourself in a creative outlet.

How can I avoid anxiety? ›

Here are 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:
  1. Keep physically active. ...
  2. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  3. Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. ...
  4. Use stress management and relaxation techniques. ...
  5. Make sleep a priority. ...
  6. Eat healthy foods. ...
  7. Learn about your disorder.
20 Jul 2021

What are the 8 tips to help you manage stress? ›

10 Tips to Manage Stress
  • 1.Exercise.
  • 2.Relax Your Muscles.
  • 3.Deep Breathing.
  • 4.Eat Well.
  • 5.Slow Down.
  • 6.Take a Break.
  • 7.Make Time for Hobbies.
  • 8.Talk About Your Problems.
29 Apr 2021

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