Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people.
Here are 15 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.
It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress.
The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t exercise.
Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga.
2. Light a Candle
Using essential oils or burning a scented candle may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
Some scents are especially soothing. Some of the most calming scents are: Lavender, Rose, Vetiver, Bergamot, Roman chamomile, Sandalwood, Ylang ylang, Orange or orange blossom, Geranium.
Using scents to treat your mood is called aromatherapy. Several studies show that aromatherapy can decrease anxiety and improve sleep.
3. Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses can increase anxiety.
People have different thresholds for how much caffeine they can tolerate.
If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back.
Although many studies show that coffee can be healthy in moderation, it’s not for everyone. In general, five or fewer cups per day is considered a moderate amount.
4. Write It Down
One way to handle stress is to write things down.
While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for.
Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.
5. Chew Gum
For a super easy and quick stress reliever, try chewing a stick of gum.
One study showed that people who chewed gum had a greater sense of wellbeing and lower stress.
One possible explanation is that chewing gum causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people. Another is that chewing gum promotes blood flow to your brain.
Additionally, one recent study found that stress relief was greatest when people chewed more strongly.
6. Spend Time With Friends and Family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times.
Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called “tend and befriend,” and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response.
It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing. It’s good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
Relieving your stress response.
Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles.
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted.
Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
Find the humor in everyday life, spend time with funny friends or watch a comedy show to help relieve stress.
9. Learn to Say No
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are.
Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress.
One way to do this may be to say “no” more often.
This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, as juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
10. Take a Yoga Class
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal — to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yoga’s effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety.
11. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment.
It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking.
There are several methods for increasing mindfulness, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga and meditation.
A recent study in college students suggested that mindfulness may help increase self-esteem, which in turn lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Cuddling, kissing, hugging and sex can all help relieve stress.
Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are physical symptoms of stress.
Interestingly, humans aren’t the only animals who cuddle for stress relief. Chimpanzees also cuddle friends who are stressed.
13. Listen to Soothing Music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.
Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too.
Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why they’re often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
14. Deep Breathing
Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signaling your body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode.
During this reaction, stress hormones are released and you experience physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing and constricted blood vessels.
Deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response.
There are several types of deep breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing and paced respiration.
The goal of deep breathing is to focus your awareness on your breath, making it slower and deeper. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises.
This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more peaceful.
Deep breathing activates the relaxation response. Multiple methods can help you learn how to breathe deeply.
15. Spend Time With Your Pet
Having a pet may help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Interacting with pets may help release oxytocin, a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood.
Having a pet may also help relieve stress by giving you purpose, keeping you active and providing companionship — all qualities that help reduce anxiety.