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Dealing with stress is part of our modern, hectic, fast-paced lifestyle.
Stress then leads directly to low self-esteem, headaches, irritability, fatigue and even a huge assortment of potential health issues.
Rather than helping us conquer our problems, severe stress can reduce our competence and make us less able to cope with the problems we need to face.
People will often say, “Don’t stress” or “You need to reduce your stress”. But that can be easier said than done.
However, if you are dedicated to building a stress-reducing habit, it can be done.
Stress is, after all, a state of the mind that is caused by outside influences. You can't change the external pressures, but you can work on the way you react to these pressures.
This article details 23 proven strategies for managing stress. Each of these tips is backed by links to medical journals or reputable news organizations.
Let’s get to it.
What You Will Learn
- 1. Drink Tea.
- 2. Go for a walk (or get more exercise).
- 3. Reduce/Eliminate Coffee or Caffeine.
- 4. Eat more ginger.
- 5. Disconnect from technology.
- 6. Get a good night’s sleep.
- 7. Avoid processed foods.
- 8. Take flax-seed oil.
- 9. Breathing techniques.
- 10. Listen to soothing music.
- 11. Take a break to do something you enjoy.
- 12. Learn your own stress signs.
- 13. Meet up with friends.
- 14. Write it all down
- 15. Take a day off.
- 16. Try mindful meditation.
- 17. Roll your way to health.
- 18. Cater to your sense of smell.
- 19. Relax your muscles
- 20. Slow down
- 21. Make time for hobbies
- 22. Eliminate your triggers
- 23. Learn more about reducing your stress
- Final Thoughts on Ways to Deal with Stress
A warm cup of Chamomile tea is perfect for those stressful moments. The herb Chamomile, known for its calming effect, can:
Check out these 5 chamomile tea benefits listed by Healthline.
Though it may feel counter-productive, going for a walk is a great way to decrease your stress levels. Step away from the situation to recharge mentally. And you’ll find yourself feeling calm and collected.
According to this Mayo Clinic report, walking (or any regular exercise) works can reduce your stress in a number of ways:
I find walking or running for stress relief to be particularly fruitful. I have often come up with “out of the box” solutions to work-related problems while exercising.
So if stress has you down and you haven’t been active in a while, make a commitment to walk 10,000 steps a day.
This is one I certainly need to work on myself. Sometimes it's hard to get through a day without a caffeinated “pick me up.”
According to a study led by Dr. James D. Lane, coffee has effects that are, “long-lasting and exaggerate the stress response both in terms of the body's physiological response in blood pressure elevations and stress hormone levels, but it also magnifies a person's perception of stress.”
It may be rough at first to scale back or eliminate that daily caffeine intake, but in the long run, it will do wonders for your stress reduction.
This is a nice and simple way to help combat stress. Ginger has long been deemed as a homeopathic stress reliever and recent studies published by the NCBI back up those claims.
Incorporating ginger into your diet is surprisingly easy. Try adding some fresh ginger to hot water to make tea, or pop a few pieces in your morning smoothie. Ground ginger is handy for curries, stir-fries, and sweet treats such as this Gingerbread cake by Tastes Better From Scratch.
But if you’re not keen on the taste of ginger, don’t worry. You can find ginger capsules at your local pharmacy.
Technology itself has caused some of our modern issues with stress, as Dr. David Volpi illustrates in this Huffington Post article.
In our modern age, “permanent” disconnection from technology simply is not feasible. However, there are still two steps you can take to disconnect from technology to reduce stress.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed, simply get away from technology. A quick walk around the building would be a perfect de-stressor in this case. (Plus it helps you get more steps for 10,000 steps daily goal.)
- Disconnect from technology an hour before you go to sleep. One of Dr. Volpi’s major points is that the screens of our technology can throw off circadian rhythm and make a good night’s sleep nearly an impossibility.
When you go to bed, leave your phone out of reach or, even better, in another room. Doing this will remove the temptation to check your notifications and help you switch off for a better night's sleep.
Check out this video for 5 reasons to stop using your phone as an alarm. And what to do instead.
Getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done when you’re feeling stressed. You may find it difficult to settle or stay asleep when you finally nod off, meaning you’ll toss and turn all night.
The lack of sleep will feed your stress levels, leaving you agitated and unable to think clearly. And so the sleep-deprived cycle continues.
All you can do is remove impediments. In this article I talk about some of the tips for getting to sleep at a decent hour.
Foods that are rich in refined sugars and white flour are known to skyrocket insulin levels and release the stress hormone. Junk food, fried foods, artificial sweeteners and foods with lots of preservatives are also on this stress, “no-no” list.
Not sure where to start? Check out CNN Health where you’ll find some really useful steps to help you kick the processed food habits.
Flaxseed oil is a supplement with quite a few positive effects. It helps reduce blood pressure, constipation, inflammatory diseases, and cholesterol.
It’s a great source of Omega 3 which can combat stress and anxiety by interacting with the mood-related parts of your brain. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that may relieve depression.
For a more in-depth explanation on the importance of flaxseed oil, take a look at this HealthPost article.
9. Breathing techniques.
One of the single most stressful events around is childbirth. One way to deal with the stress and pain of natural childbirth is to use deep breathing. This is an old and time tested way to beat feelings of anxiety and stress.
Web MD says it is specifically one of the best ways to beat stress and suggests using these simple guide to get started:
- Start by finding a comfortable position. You might want to lie down with pillows to support your head and knees or you may prefer sitting up.
- Take your first breath in through your nose and draw the air right down to your belly.
- Slowly, breathe out through your nose.
- Now, place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a breath in, feel your belly rise, and then fall as you breathe out again. When drawing the air down into your belly, that hand should move more than the one placed on your chest.
- Continue for three more deep breaths whilst focussing on the rising and falling of your belly.
There are a few different techniques for deep breathing, but they all have the same effect; getting larger than normal volume of air into the lungs and holding it there for a short time.
Music can calm, it can make us happy and it can make us want to get up and dance. Music can make you think more clearly. Of course, all of this leads to a reduction of stress and anxiety.
To learn more, read this article on the power of music to improve mood and relieve stress.
Read for a bit. Watch a TV show. Go chat with friends. Check out an online humor site.
Your problems will not go away with escapism, but we all need to take a break now and then.
What do you do when you begin to stress too much? Some people bite their nails, some people sweat, some people tap their feet. (I grind my teeth.)
Understanding and recognizing your own signs of stress is key to tackling the problem. Whilst you might feel like saying, “I’m fine”, these tale-tale signs are trying to tell you that you’re not. And that you need to take action.
Though yours may be different, some common signs of stress are:
If you identify your indications of stress, you can know when to take that break, do that exercise, take that walk or do those deep breaths.
Sometimes a little bit of time with friends and family can be, “just what the doctor ordered” when it comes to stress. A little relaxation, laughter, and fun can do wonders to relieve your tension and stress.
To learn more check out this Readers Digest article that discusses all the ways friends can help you beat stress.
And if you’re struggling for something to do when hanging out with friends, check out this article on things to do with your friends.
Journaling is considered to be an effective stress management technique for many.
When mulling over why you were stressed yesterday, last week, or last month, it can be difficult to pinpoint the finer details. And this is where a daily journal can become your best friend.
This form of self-exploration works best when done consistently, so you need to make this daily journaling a habit. However, even sporadic journaling helps you to process emotions and can have a cathartic effect.
You can grab any notepad to start journaling. But to help keep you motivated to write each day, check out our top picks for best daily personal journals and notebooks.
We all need an occasional day with zero stress. Take a day and just get away.
Go on a hike in the mountains. Sunbathe at the beach. Go on a long bike ride. Go to the movies.
Occasionally it is important to disconnect from your normal routine and just get away. (ABC News discusses how time off can reduce stress and increase productivity.)
If you’re looking to slow down your thoughts and let go of the negativity, mindful meditation is a great option. During this exercise, you’ll combine meditation with mindfulness; a practice that encourages you to focus only on ‘the now’.
Unlike other forms of meditation, the goal isn’t to stop your thoughts. Instead, use the time to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings and accept them without judgment.
Practicing mindful meditation on a regular basis can help combat stress, anxiety, and depression. There’s no need for candles or mantras (unless you want to, of course). And it can be done in as little as 5 minutes, making it manageable for even the busiest of lives.
For a more in-depth look at mindful meditation, check out this article which includes a useful step-by-step guide.
Back and body alignment specialists claim that there are many foam roller benefits that have a seriously positive effect on stress.
It works not only by relaxing the muscles and the body but also by working pressure points that affect the nervous system.
Additionally using a foam roller regularly will increase the elasticity in the muscles and fascia. This will help to deepen breathing capacity, which in turn brings your body to a more calm state of being.
All of our senses are hardwired into your brain. Many of them interact in ways that you might not think they would. Experiments (according to NCBI) have proven that aromatherapy using essential oils, specifically lavender scents, have a positive effect on stress reduction.
19. Relax your muscles
If tense muscles are one of your tale-tale signs of being stressed, it’s time to loosen them up. And whilst a good massage not always be on hand to help, there are a few self-help ways to relax them off, for example:
Check out The Good Body for some more great tips on stretching out those tense muscles.
20. Slow down
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. But one simple way to cut the stress is to slow down.
Try getting up ten minutes early. Or crossing just one thing off your to-do list. And make time to savor those small moments.
Whilst slowing down won’t eliminate the stress completely, it can greatly reduce it and in turn, the physical symptoms we feel.
Simplify Your Day wrote a great article on The Magic of Slowing Down which is definitely worth checking out.
21. Make time for hobbies
We miss out on doing so many things because we simply don’t have time. We’re just too busy with work, with family, with house chores, and trying to cram in a few hour’s sleep.
But hobbies are something you should be making time for. Doing things you enjoy, be it on your own or with other people, is certain to raise your endorphin levels and reduce stress.
And if you don’t yet have a hobby, now is the perfect time to find one. You could try:
22. Eliminate your triggers
Everyone has stress triggers. And they differ from person to person. Whilst your friend might be happy to deal with confrontational customers, the situation may spark stress or anxiety for you.
Pinpointing your triggers is key to eliminating, or at least, reducing them in your life. If you know a certain place or person is likely to cause you upset, you can try to work around it.
If you’re struggling to identify the cause of your stress, keeping a log or journal can help you find patterns or similarities that might be best avoided.
This article written by HealthLine will help you to identify and manage your emotional triggers.
Read more about relieving stress and anxiety. There are lots of good books that will go far deeper than the previous synopsis mentions of anxiety and stress relieving techniques here.
If you want to learn more -read more. Check out my collection of the Best Self-Help Books where I have a section on dealing with stress.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. But these 23 stress management techniques will help you deal with them and live a healthier, happier life.
Acknowledging and accepting how you feel is key to moving forward. And finding the strategies that best fit you and your life will help you do this.
Finally, try out some of these printable stress management worksheets & templates to keep track of, help manage and lower your stress levels.