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101 Things to Do When You're Stressed

Mary West
Oct. 9, 2014

How do you deal with anxiety when life's pressure-cooker has you tied in knots? Here are stress-busting activities to help you unwind.

Just as stress can seem to come at you from a thousand different directions, you can find relief from stress from a seemingly unlimited number of sources. Studies show anxiety can have a negative effect on physical, mental and emotional health, so try some of the tension-busting tips below whenever you feel the pressure mounting.

They include advice from: Christine Gutierrez, M.A., M.H.C., leading psychotherapist and founder of Cosmic Life; Traci Lowenthal, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and owner of Creative Insights Counseling; Nekeshia Hammond, Psy.D., natural health practitioner and author of "Conquer Your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques"; and Kathy Gruver, Ph.D., author of "The Alternative Medicine Cabinet".

Get more tips on how to improve your health and happiness.

And for more helpful tips, check out Care.com's Guide to Managing Stress.
 

  1. Dance
  2. Enjoy aromatherapy by placing drops of lavender oil on your pillow
  3. Go for a run
  4. Pet a dog or cat
  5. Play relaxing music
  6. Take a few deep, long inhalations and exhalations
  7. Read an inspiring book or fun fiction
  8. Get a massage
  9. Soak in a warm bath
  10. Spend time in nature, such as a park or beach
  11. Watch a favorite show
  12. Plan a girls' or boys' night out with your friends
  13. Make a delicious comfort food or order some for yourself
  14. Avoid common sayings that can increase stress such as, "I feel like my hands are full"
  15. Have a chiropractic treatment to put the body in balance, which will help balance the mind
  16. Write your thoughts in a journal
  17. Give someone a hug
  18. Try guided imagery, such as imagining you are walking through a meadow
  19. Watch a comedy and laugh your head off
  20. Go for a bike ride
  21. Discover the therapeutic value of working in the garden
  22. Volunteer for a good cause
  23. Color in a coloring book and express your inner child
  24. Spend some time with a baby
  25. Create a Pinterest board of inspiring images for goals and dreams
  26. Use a tension-relief roller
  27. Print pictures and make a photo album of happy memories
  28. Mindfully eat something delicious
  29. Decrease your workload
  30. Call and talk to a friend
  31. Smile
  32. Get polarity therapy
  33. Do a random act of kindness
  34. Relish a favorite memory
  35. Step outside and savor the sunlight
  36. Take a nap
  37. Drink some orange juice -- vitamin C reduces anxiety
  38. Do push-ups or jumping jacks
  39. Paint, sculpt or do something creative
  40. Sing a favorite song
  41. Do progressive muscle relaxation, starting with the feet and moving toward the head
  42. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
  43. Leave a secret note for someone you love
  44. Take a walk
  45. Make a cup of tea
  46. Get an acupuncture treatment by a qualified professional
  47. Think of things for which you are thankful
  48. Lessen clutter in your home by donating items
  49. Play a musical instrument
  50. Smell some fresh flowers
  51. Use a stress-reduction homeopathic remedy
  52. Make something with Play-Doh -- it's not just for children!
  53. Send a funny text to a friend
  54. Slowly count to 10
  55. Watch a sunset or sunrise
  56. Visit an older adult
  57. Bake your favorite dessert
  58. Play a sport you enjoy
  59. Do reflexology
  60. Learn a new skill
  61. Go shopping and buy yourself a new little treat -- it can be something inexpensive, but indulgent like costume jewelry or a full-fat latte
  62. Go to bed an hour earlier
  63. Take a mental health vacation day
  64. Visit a museum and see an exhibit that fascinates you
  65. Drink a detox smoothie
  66. Pray
  67. Take a tai chi class
  68. Eat a healthier diet
  69. Try Qigong
  70. Get a facial
  71. Find silly jokes on the Internet and laugh
  72. Join a support group
  73. Give yourself a pedicure
  74. Or go crazy and get one done at a nail salon or spa
  75. Have a pillow fight
  76. Stretch for a few minutes
  77. List all the things you love about yourself
  78. Forgive yourself for the things you "think" you've done wrong -- move on
  79. Put on your favorite outfit
  80. Practice mini meditations, such as thinking, "I am at peace"
  81. Envision yourself in a relaxing location or favorite spot
  82. Engage in the gentle, relaxing exercise of yoga
  83. Don't neglect regular workouts, as they cause stress to dissipate and produce "feel good" endorphin chemicals in the brain
  84. Spend time with family over a good meal
  85. Remember that while you can't control stress, you can control your reaction to it
  86. Discover the healing power of Reiki
  87. Eat some dark chocolate
  88. Attend a fun festival in the community
  89. Create handmade thank you notes
  90. Make affirmations -- instead of thinking, "I'll never get this done," think, "I have plenty of time"
  91. Listen to a tape of soothing sounds, like rain or waves at the beach
  92. Talk to a clergy member or counselor
  93. Use a favorite hand lotion
  94. Travel to a new place you've never been before
  95. Drink a cup of relaxation-inducing herbal tea, such as chamomile
  96. Let your gaze linger on something beautiful
  97. Replace each negative thought with a positive one
  98. Get biofeedback to change behavior that causes stress
  99. Go for an invigorating swim
  100. Take time for your favorite hobby
  101. Look back through pictures of happy memories -- family vacations and special events -- and focus on how happy you were


As you can see, these suggestions stem from almost every aspect of day to day life: from increased exercise, to taking a moment to appreciate beauty, to meditation or prayer, there are many ways to decrease stress levels. If you are weighed down with burdens, it's reassuring to know that so many things can help you feel better.

 

Mary West is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in an array of online publications.

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