40 Healthy Ways to Relax and De-Stress

| Well Being

People all over the world are full of stress because they're juggling their job, family, children and countless other variables. No one is exempt when it comes to the awful feelings that stress can bring. You start to have a shorter temper, you're depressed, you don't like your job anymore and nothing ever seems to get done at home or at work. These are just a few signs that stress has taken over your life. Now you need to take a step back and see what you can do to change that and unwind. Here are 40 ways to relax and de-stress your life!

>> Read more: Stress Addiction: How to Break Away from a High Anxiety Lifestyle

woman squeezing a stress ball at her computer

1. Read a book for 6 minutes. Your brain has to concentrate harder in order to read, and is distracted enough to ease the tension in your muscles and your heart. If you find yourself stressed, just find a good book and lose yourself in it.

2. Eat an avocado. Your blood pressure can easily be lowered by eating this superfood. One of the best ways to lower your blood pressure is by consuming plenty of potassium and monounsaturated fats, which avocado has tons of. All you need to do to be stress-free is to spread some avocado on a bit of toast or eat avocado plain with a dash of sat and pepper.

>> Read more: 14 Surprisingly Delicious Avocado Hacks

3. Peel an orange. A study on the effects of orange oil proved that people who sniffed orange oil were less stressed throughout the test, and the effects even lingered when the exam was over! Citrus aromas are useful in curbing stress, anxiety, digestion and nausea.

4. Hang out with your BFF. The next time you get stressed, send your friend a quick text to hang out. Scientists have discovered that being around your best friend helps to decrease your stress hormone levels. Grab a coffee or drink together and discuss your lives. If you do decide to gossip be sure to keep it positive because it'll help to keep you in a positive mood set, as well.

5. Power nap. A 30-minute nap can greatly improve your day! It will leave you feeling refreshed, with increased energy and improved productivity. The best thing is that it's not just good for relaxing you but has been found to improve heart function, hormonal maintenance and cell repair. People who do take power naps have lower stress levels, improved learning ability and better overall mood. Now you have proof that adults need naps too!

6. Sing. Go out to a karaoke bar with your friends and belt out your favorite song, or just sing along to the radio in the privacy of your car. Singing release endorphins in your body like after a good workout to elevate your mood, help with anxiety and lower stress levels.woman singing headphones

7. Bring your dog to work. Your boss might be hesitant about allowing you to bring your dog with you; who wouldn't be? Just show her the research done on companies that decided to be pro-pet. The people who brought their dogs with them reported having lowered stress levels. Having your pet with you helps to buffer work stress and make your job more satisfying. Your boss wants to have happier, healthier employees, right?

8. Laugh. A good, quick laugh can do so much for your stress and happiness levels. Laughing fires up and then cools down your stress response. This increases your heart rate and blood pressure which makes you feel good and relaxed. It also helps with tension by stimulating circulation and aiding in muscle relaxation. An added effect is improving your immune system because positive thoughts release neuropeptides which are known to help fight stress and potentially serious illnesses.

9. Listen to soothing nature sounds. Listening to your favorite music whether it be country, pop, rap or classic may seem like its helping with your stress, but it doesn't help as much as nature sounds do. Studies done showed that people who listened to regular music or no music at all had higher cortisol levels than someone who listened to nature sounds. That means that they were less stressed and could better deal with stress throughout their day.

10. Exercise. Getting that quick run in before work might help your stress levels more than you think. By exercising regularly you're not only working your muscles but how your body deals with stress. Everyday you exercise puts stress on your joints, muscles and bones which allows your muscle system, renal system, cardiovascular and nervous system to communicate more efficiently. This allows your body to deal better with not only physical stress but emotional stress.

>> Read More: 7 Exercises to Relieve Stress

11. Give someone a hug. When you hug someone for as little as 20 seconds, the hormone oxytocin is release into your blood stream. This can lower your blood pressure, improve your memory, reduce stress and anxiety. When you get home from a particularly stressful day at work, pop in a movie and have a cuddle session with your hubby.

12. Call your mom. To reduce your stress, give your mom a quick phone call. Tell her about your day or rant about how your boss is a jerk. A quick conversation with your mom can decrease your stress hormone levels and release oxytocin to make you feel happier.

business woman on the phone walking to work

13. Take up knitting. You've seen your mom and grandma take up knitting over the years. It's not just for people who are entering those later stages of life, though! When you're weaving together intricate patterns, your mind is entering a form of mediation. Combine mediation with the act of creating something, you have a great activity that will get you feeling stress-free in no time!

14. Chew gum. Chew a piece of gum for as little as 15 minutes to improve your stress levels. It's a stress-reduction habit (like a healthy version of biting your nails) that can also help reduce symptoms of depression like loss of appetite. It can also be used as quick pick-me-up if you have a mid-day slump.

15. Get a massage. We all know that massages are relaxing and it just feels like all your problems are melting away. This is because a massage lowers your stress hormone levels! It also helps to increase your white blood cells, meaning that a simple massage can improve your immune system too.

>> Read More: Massage for Stress Relief and Other Health Benefits

16. Eat a bowl of oatmeal. When you have your heart-healthy oatmeal for breakfast it's also helping your body produce serotonin. This chemical has antioxidant properties that help to create soothing feelings that help you overcome stress.

oatmeal

>> Read More: 8 Ways to Dress Up Your Morning Oatmeal

17. Have a good cry. When you cry, you are literally crying out the chemicals that make you stressed. And don't be afraid to cry, because holding back those tears can contribute to heart disease and ulcers and increase your blood pressure and stress levels.

18. Smile. You may not feel like smiling, but it can help you de-stress. Even a forced smile lowers your heart rate, making you feel more relaxed. A genuine smile, though — that uses your eye and mouth muscles — lowers your heart rate faster bringing that relaxation quicker. You can't force a genuine smile though, so just fake it till you make it.

19. Get a plant. Buying a household isn't just for aesthetics, but is a natural air purifier. That's how plants can help calm you down. Something as simple as being around plants can even bring down your stress levels. If you don't want to buy a plant you can always visit a park near you or your local botanical garden.

20. Eat dark chocolate. Here is the reason why chocolate always makes you feel better after an arduous day at work. When you get stressed your body sends signals to your adrenal gland, pituitary gland and parts of your nervous system to release hormones and chemicals to fight whatever is stressing out your body. This results in high blood pressure, feeling stressed and a mood that is far from calm. Eating dark chocolate helps your body to produce way less chemicals and hormones in your body, so you're happy, relaxed and most of all not stressed.

>> Read More: 13 Healthy Benefits of Dark Chocolate

21. Say no: Realize that you can't do everything! It's okay not to be superwoman all the time and it's definitely okay to say no. You may be stressed because of everything that you have on your plate. Maybe if you took off one or two things, you wouldn't be as stressed. Saying no is not only good for your health, but a good opportunity for someone else as well. If you tell your boss that you're too busy then another employee has a great opportunity to show their worth. Also, you can say no just for a bit of free time. In the long run it will make you happier to have those few extra minutes to read a book, take a bath or see that movie you've been trying to find the time for.

22. Dance it out: You see all those dance shows on TV like "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing With the Stars" and they're just so happy when they dance! Studies have shown that the combination of music and moving help to bring about stress relief. It moves a lot of your muscles to produce endorphins and is just plain fun. So, find a partner and go to a dance class just for one night. Who knows: you might be the next Ginger Rogers or Beyonce!

fitness dance class

23. Take one task at a time: Maybe you don't have the option to say no. That's always a hard road to take, but don't look at everything you need to accomplish, because then you might get overwhelmed. Just be sure you don't try to multitask or else you might really stress yourself out. Researchers have found that even multitasking is risky because it's counterproductive. When you multitask you're shifting from one job to another and this takes time for your mind to catch up. It may only take a second, but eventually that time adds up into minutes that were spent unproductively. If you focus on one task at a time and see that task through, you'll be finished in no time!

24. Do yoga: Yoga is a given because it's a known stress reliever. It's also been known to help people with anxiety and depression. During yoga, you're transferring your focus and attention to your breathing and body. This helps you to temper your anxiety while releasing physical tension. It helps your entire body to slow down and dissolve your daily stressors.

25. Think positive thoughts: This may not always be so easy but it's worth a try, especially when you hear the health benefits. Not only do positive thoughts help reduce your stress, but it also has been known to increase your life span, lower rates of depression and distress, greater resistance to the common cold, reduced risk of heart disease and better coping skills during times of stress. All you need to do is approach an unpleasant situation in a more positive and productive way. Make a point of of starting with self-talk or more positive thoughts.

26. Take a warm bath: Now this does sound relaxing! Your body's natural temperature starts to drop about two to three hours before sleep. When you take a warm bath, your temperature rises. The bath itself might be relaxing but temperature cool-down afterward is what relaxes you. It's especially great before you go to bed; you'll be calm and ready for sleep in no time.

>> Read More: 20 Tips You Need to Relax ASAP

27. Scent of pine or vanilla: Your sense of smell is connected to the emotional center in your brain, which explains why you connect a smell with a specific memory or person. It also allows for scents to help your mind and body. The smell of pine helps to alleviate stress and might be why pine trees bring cheer in the holiday season. Having a pine tree in your house or smelling a pine scent can lower depression and stress levels. Add vanilla, which elevates your mood, and you'll have a great holiday season! A simple whiff of vanilla bean can bring about joy and relaxation.

pine

28. Avoid stressful people: Stress is contagious. That's why when you're with a friend who might be nervously pacing, you start to feel it too. You might snap at them to sit down because you're feeling stressed for them. Studies show that especially with couples, the observer was stressed out simply by watching their romantic partner endure stress. If you know that you're already stressed, don't hang out with people who are already stressed out too or you both might make it worse.

29. Go to a beach: If you live near a beach or lake, consider yourself lucky. If not, then you might want to take a trip to one, especially if you've been feeling stressed lately. People love to spend vacations near beaches and lakes because of the water. People even love the color blue because it's the color of water. We just have a natural affinity with water because it gives our brains a rest from overstimulation. It can induce a meditative state, make you more compassionate, more creative and is overall good for our minds and bodies.

30. De-clutter your home: When you go home and see how messy your house is, it just puts you in a bad mood. Home organization is actually one of the universal stress triggers. People across America worry that their house isn't organized or clean enough. If you set aside a little bit of time each day to clean up your house, you would be amazed at how much less stress you feel.

>> Read More: 15 Must-Try Methods to Organize Your Fridge

31. Avoid social media: Social media is your connection to the world, but maybe it's also why you are stressed all the time. People are constantly pressured to portray their ideal self because they see all their friends going out and doing fun things. You want to show the world that you're doing the same; you can be fun too. Doing that simply to improve your image to others online puts a lot of stress on yourself. Social network users who are addicted to their digital devices are 76 percent more likely to say their lives are stressful. It might be a good idea to separate yourself from all technology for an hour or two a day. Put down your phone or laptop and pick up a book or go shopping.

32. Drink green tea: An amino acid in green tea called L-Theanine has been known to influence your psychological and physiological states under stress. It stimulates your brain waves into a relaxed state and can alter serotonin and dopamine to make you happier. Just have a big cup of green tea and enjoy the relaxed, less stressed state you'll be in!

Clean-Green-Citrus-Tea_RESIZED-6

>> Read More: Tea Time: Benefits of Tea

33. Share a meal with a friend: You might have always dreaded your weekly dinners with your family, but in the end you came away happier. This is because sharing a meal with someone releases a surge of calming oxytocin. Now try eating out with a friend. You get to bond over food with your friend and be happier; what could be better?

34. Make a silly face: While you're sitting in your car at a red light — real quickly — make a funny face. You might look ridiculous but it'll help take away any strain you've accidentally been holding above the neck. If you make that face for 15 seconds, release and then do it again, you'll start feeling less stressed. It's surprising the little things that help us feel better.

35. Spend a little time in the sun: Sunlight boosts serotonin in your body. That's why you might be sadder in the winter or more stressed out because you're not getting enough sunlight. If you just go outside for 15 minutes a day, this can improve your stress levels and help you sleep better.

happy woman in nature during sunset

36. Ignore your boss: Almost 68 percent of people still have contact with their boss while still on vacation. That is crazy! Your stress levels naturally rise when your boss calls you while you're on vacation. It's supposed to be your time to relax, but because you're committed to your job, you'll answer his or her phone calls. That needs to change, though, or else your stress levels are just going to keep rising. You don't want to completely ignore your boss, but maybe on vacation turn your phone off. Or you can calmly let your boss know that this is your vacation time and you specifically planned to not be doing any work-related things on vacation.

37. Let out a deep sigh: We all sigh for different reasons throughout the day, but it's also a breathing method that helps us to feel better. A deep sigh can have a soothing effect on you because believe it or not, when you're breathing is consistently the same way, your lungs become stiff and less efficient in gas exchange. So, take a big breathe and let out a deep, long sigh to change up your breathing, and at the same time, let all that stress out of your system.

38. Spend time with the person you love: When you're with the person you love, you're sharing each other's worries, concerns and stresses. You can talk through each other's problems. You're also there for each other to offer support, a listening ear and advice, when it's needed. After spending time with the person you love, you'll feel less stressed out just by sharing your problems with each other.

>> Read More: 21 Ways to Love the One You're With

39. Scream: Have you ever been in the middle of an argument and just wanted to scream? No words, just a very loud scream? Well, it just so happens that screaming might be good for you. It might not end an argument on a positive note or in a productive way, but try screaming in the sanctuary of your car or home first. We need to let our emotions out, whether it be screaming or crying. You don't want those emotions to fester and then get worse and turn into anger or resentment. Let out the scream!

40. Give yourself some quiet time: On a completely different note, some quiet time can do a bit of good. You're constantly surrounded by noise and chaos. It might be time to step back and set aside a few hours just for some quiet time. Use this time to focus on yourself, center yourself and find your balance again.