Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that rest is not idleness or laziness, and it would do us a lot of good to slow down inside. Here’s a handful of ways to relieve stress, boost your mood, and keep stillness inside you even when the world around you is rushing by.
“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – Winnie the Pooh
As Gandhi said, there’s more to life than increasing its speed. When we encourage ourselves to stay calm with all the little bumps in the road, we are better equipped to handle the things that really matter in life.
Life is like a road trip—enjoy each day without fretting over every little bump, don’t carry too much baggage, and focus on the journey instead of the destination. I hope this research-based list of ways to relieve stress will help you do just that.
10 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
1. Walk happy.
Walking is one of the most powerful antidotes to stress. The self-propelled forward motion—especially when done in an upbeat manner with good posture, arms moving and shoulders rolled back—can introduce a wave of positive energy that keeps working long after you’re done walking.
2. Make space for friends.
Face-to-face meetings with loved ones is like a vitamin for depression prevention, according to a recent study. Phone calls, emails, social media communication, and texting don’t have the same protective effect. Get together with your family and friends at least three times a week, if you can, even if it’s just for a quick visit.
3. Eat more produce.
Research points to fruits and vegetables for stress relief. Eating seven to eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day can make you feel happier, more calm, and more energetic even into the next day. Here’s a list of 15 healthy foods for stress relief.
4. Invite the scent of vanilla or lavender.
The rich scent of vanilla has been shown to produce powerful feelings of joy and relaxation. Medical experiments show that vanilla fragrance reduces stress and anxiety, and lavender has also been found to be both relaxing and slightly energizing. Even if you’re not sensitive to smells, try natural fragrances and essential oils for best results.
5. Cry if you feel like it.
Letting it out offers physical and emotional release, and also provides other health benefits. If you feel like you need to cry, don’t hold back; suppressing tears increases stress levels and contributes to diseases and conditions aggravated by stress.
6. Go barefoot.
Walking barefoot on grass is a natural stress reliever, but walking around without shoes also improves balance and posture–and good posture is an automatic mood booster. Going barefoot may also help you avoid plantar fasciitis, shin splints, bursitis, and other painful issues.
Whether you’re inside or outside, try kicking off your shoes to ground yourself in the present moment.
7. Pay it forward.
Even the smallest acts of kindness—like opening the door for a stranger—helps combat stress. Doing acts of kindness and showing compassion to our fellow human beings helps us feel happier, stronger, and more successful. By paying it forward, we’re opening the floodgates of feel-good energy that literally has no end.
8. Walk in nature.
Getting out into natural environments is an easy and almost immediate way to relieve stress, improve mood, and decrease negative thinking patterns, especially for city dwellers. Known as “forest bathing” in Japan, it has become an integral part of preventative and healing medicine.
9. Take a break.
Whether it’s taking a one-week break from social media, taking a day off from exercising, or not working overtime all of the time, we could all use a little respite (and it’s good for us). Working ourselves to the point of burnout is counterproductive and isn’t always worth it. Give yourself a chance to slow down, refuel, and check into your own life.
10. Practice gratitude.
Gratitude has many benefits, which includes lowering stress levels. Write thank you letters to important people in your life and tell them how much you appreciate them. Start a gratitude journal to train your brain to see the positive aspects of your life versus the more obvious negative aspects.
No matter how crazy life may seem in this moment, there’s always something to say “thank you” for.
- Can you think of any other ways to relieve stress that you would add to this list?
- How do you prevent stress?
Please share your own thoughts, peaceful practices, encouraging reminders, and inspiring stories of peace with me in the comments.
Share this with someone who could use a little lift.
Maybe Robert Eliot was right: “Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.”
Free watercolor art printable by Setting for Four; lettering by Aim Happy.