Most of us are incredibly familiar with the experience of stress. In the past year alone, approximately three-quarters of adults in the US have experienced both the psychological and physical symptoms of stress. We are most often stressed out about work, finances, relationships, and the general political climate. These days, it’s almost impossible to escape the shadow stress casts over life.
Stress floods in from so many different directions. Plus, it’s filtered through so many personal circumstances. To reduce stress in your life, you’ve got to build a personal recipe of stress-relieving tactics. With no one-size-fits-all solution, you must create a stress-relieving program that works for you.
The following list is a 50-point long gold mine of tools, techniques, and suggestions for calming down, reducing turmoil, and feeling better. With so many options, you’ll never run out of inspiration for ways to lower your daily stress levels.
50 Coping Skills to Help You Manage Stress
- Keep a regular sleeping schedule. That means a fixed bedtime and morning alarm. Do what you can to avoid extreme irregularities.
- Reduce the screen time before heading to bed. Turn off the phone well before tucking in for the night. Putting the phone away will reduce blue light exposure and improve sleep.
- Need more convincing? Keep your phone out of the bedroom. Purchase a stand-alone old-fashioned alarm clock if you need to replace the one from your phone.
- Read nightly before going to bed. One study suggested that just six minutes of reading before bed could reduce stress by up to 68 percent.
- Spend more quality time with your furry friends. More furry cuddles keep anxieties down.
- In peak periods of stress, reduce the tension by having your dog or cat nearby. People handle stress better with a pet on their lap.
- Head out into nature for quality time spent forest bathing. A practice in Japan called hinrin-yoku, which has shown to have long-lasting benefits.
- For any female readers, download a period tracking mobile app. Hormones can fluctuate throughout your cycle; it can be helpful to predict their rise and fall.
- Take a long, glorious, and steamy bath. Don’t get out until you are utterly relaxed.
- Push pause on the 24-hour news cycle. With the constant barrage of chaos coming through TV news networks, newspapers, and phones – no wonder we are stressed out.
- When you feel exceptionally anxious, ground yourself with the following action: count three things you can see, three things you feel with your hands, three things you can hear. Repeat.
- Don’t eat lunch at your desk. No matter how busy you are, take a real break.
- Learn the concept of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a two-step process that takes practice but helps manage your stress, as well as the stress of those around you. How to start building emotional intelligence? First, “Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions.” Then begin to “Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.”
- Apply the Pareto Principle to your life. This principle states, “in most situations, roughly 80% of effects come from only 20% of the causes.” Why struggle under 80 percent, when you can achieve great results with 20 percent?
- Take up a weekly yoga practice. Look for gentle introductory classes or yin classes to promote total relaxation.
- Find a positive affirmation that strikes the heart, such as the powerful quote by Maya Angelou: “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Repeat to yourself as needed.
- Connect with friends in real life or over the phone. Personal connections are worth so much more than a like or comment on social media.
- More on social media…..Remove all social media accounts from your phone. Research repeatedly shows that social media is terrible for mental health.
- Pour yourself a warming cup of tea, especially green tea. L-Theanine is the active ingredient in green tea leaves, and researchers have shown it can reduce the physiological stress response.
- Slather on a layer of sunscreen and soak of the warming rays of sunshine. Again, research tells us that Vitamin D deficiency worsens mental health outcomes.
- Book a session unplugged from everything – even gravity. Try floating in a sensory deprivation tank to unwind and reset.
- Throw on your running shoes and hit the pavement, even during a period of intense, stressful stimuli. Research tells us physical activity reduces the severity of stressful experiences.
- Feeling depressed and stressed out? Not only does physical activity reduce stress, but resistance training also elevates mood and has anti-depressant characteristics.
- Meditate. The science proves it’s one of the best ways to reduce stress.
- Take your dog for long walks through the forest. Don’t have a dog? Borrow a friend’s dog!
- Take yourself out on a date. Put the phone away, turn off the television, and head out on the town. Throw yourself into spending quality time with yourself, with no distractions.
- Set up an essential oil diffuser in your workspace. Use calming aromatherapy oils like bergamot, lavender, and clary sage to manage stress levels.
- Take a vacation. Even if you can get away for a few days over the weekend, taking time out is a meaningful way to reduce stress. Imagine having nothing to do but sit by a campfire or read by the beach.
- Try taking daily doses of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, an extraction from hemp plants. There is preliminary evidence saying it helps reduce physiological signs of stress.
- Look for other herbal supplements commonly used for the reduction of stress. Speak with a naturopath about which specific herbs they might recommend. They often come in preformulated tinctures or teas.
- Speak with a professional. That means a counselor, therapist, or healthcare professional. Learn meditation techniques, coping mechanisms, and ways to process thanks to their unbiased and sound advice. There are many ways to fit this into your already busy schedule, including online, text-based counseling.
- Try volunteering with a local charity organization. Doing good for others is a sure-fire way to ‘do good’ for yourself.
- Talk to your romantic partner about the stresses you feel. Sharing your tension with someone you love is a way to share the burden.
- Do you feel most of the tension in your neck, shoulders, and back? Work it out with a deep tissue massage.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present with your emotions as they happen. Notice your emotional and physical response to stress as it bubbles up. Then, allow it to pass.
- Find a body of water (like a river, a lake, or an ocean) and be with it. Researchers believe that the pounding surf and sand are great for the mind, body, and soul.
- Pack your daily diet full of leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits. Nutrient-dense natural foods help to lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
- Start a daily gratitude journal. Every day, spend five minutes writing out positive affirmations and feel-good events. A gratitude journal refocuses your attention on the brighter side of your day.
- Book a session of stress-reducing acupuncture. Many studies now link the benefits of acupuncture with stress relief and anti-depressant like properties.
- Roll around between the sheets with a romantic partner. Sex is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Too stressed to get sexy? Cuddles work just as well.
- Break out the boom box and put on your favorite music. Whether that means soulful R&B or hard-hitting guitar riffs, music is scientifically proven to make you feel better.
- Find the latest release from your favorite comedian on Netflix, or head out a live stand-up comedy show after work. Laughter is the best medicine, especially as a way to manage stress.
- Have you ever felt better after a nap? Following studies into the subject, we now know that napping reduces stress hormone levels. So when feeling stressed out, why not take a quick 30-minute siesta?
- Complete a body scan from head to toe. A body scan is a mental checklist starting from the bottoms of your feet to the top of your head. Mentally go through each part of your body, asking yourself, “What does it feel like?” Before moving to the next body part, allow it to relax.
- Keep a mental bank of soothing images or memories at the ready for times of stress. Maybe you have a fond memory of cuddling your cat in front of a fire or frolicking in the waves on a tropical beach. When you are peaking, bring these little memories up as an easy mental escape route.
- Work to reduce the constant stream of interruptions at work. According to some statistics, the average worker spends over two hours a day on disruptions. Close your door, put up a sign, or send out an email advising you are maintaining strict no-interruption hours. With no interruptions, imagine the work you can get done, and the relief you’ll feel?
- Put a smile on your face, focus on the positive. Studies tell us that pretending to be happy, and choosing to focus on the positive are sure-fire ways to increase happiness. Faking it until you make can really work.
- According to the American Counseling Association, getting creative is another tool for managing stress. Try painting, knitting, or woodworking as some crafty options.
- Get out in the garden. Doing light yard work, planting some flowers, or working in the vegetable garden are all meaningful ways to destress. It’s probably why your parents did it for so long.
- Learn to say, “No.” If you are already operating at peak stress, you don’t have the capacity to take more on. It’s okay to say no.
Find 3 Ideas for Stress Relief, and Get Started
While not every point on this 50-point list is for everyone, you should find at least a few to get started on. Lean into the points which you’re already attracted to, as these will be the easiest to put into practice.
Managing stress with lifestyle changes takes patience, but science does prove many of these ideas work to reduce stress over the long term. One bath might not do it, but a week’s worth could have significant stress-relieving benefits. With practice and dedication, you’ll surely find a little stress release hidden in here.