10 Stress-Relief Tips
Updated: May 4
* Please Note: The following tips are generalized for basic stress management, and not necessarily tailored to those struggling with severe mental health issues, for which a more supported / specialized approach may be necessary.
1. BREATHE: Breathing more deeply into your abdomen, and extending your exhalations, can create a relaxation response within the body and nervous system, which slows the heart-rate, relaxes tense muscles, and calms the mind.
2. EXERCISE: Physical movement – even a simple walk around the block – give the body an outlet and releases pent-up energy created by stress. Vigorous exercise also produces endorphins, which reduce stress hormones and enhance feelings of wellbeing.
3. TAKE BREAKS: Trying to cram too much into your day can build a cumulative amount of stress, which actually makes you less productive. Taking time away from work gives the mind and body a chance to rest and replenish, and allows for more clarity when you return to the task at hand.
4. DEAL WITH PROCRASTINATION: While breaks are important, continually putting things off compounds stress by limiting the amount of time you have to get the job done – which in itself leaves you feeling more anxious. Learning to manage procrastination can be challenging, but finding ways to curb this pattern is often a key component of stress reduction.
5. REST & SLEEP: Getting enough rest is crucial to reducing stress. Lack of sleep can leave your body and mind chronically fatigued, agitated, and struggling to keep up. Cultivate consistent sleep habits and find ways to schedule adequate time for rest and relaxation.
6. CONNECT & COMMUNICATE: Expressing, sharing, and processing our emotions and experiences is an essential aspect of being human. Whether it's with one special person in your life, a group of friends, a family member, or a therapist, it's important to be able to interact, share and reflect.
7. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE: Pleasurable experiences – particularly those that are creative and meaningful – are an essential part of cultivating a full and rewarding life. Hobbies, activities and experiences that bring you joy will go a long way toward reducing feelings of stress in your day- to-day life.
8. MEDITATE: You don't have to sit cross-legged for hours or chant a mantra (although you might choose to if that appeals to you). Meditation is simply inner reflection and awareness. It allows us to get in touch with aspects of ourselves that may benefit from more clarity and attention. Taking the time (even a few moments out of a busy day) to be still and listen to your inner voice is an important part of taking care of yourself and understanding your deeper needs and experiences.
9. SET BOUNDARIES: When you're already feeling overwhelmed it's important not to take on more than you can handle. It can be necessary and beneficial to delegate or decline requests – to say no when you need to, rather than saying yes and feeling resentful.
10. CULTIVATE HUMOUR: Healthy laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress and increase well being – even including the absurd or 'dark' humour that might come with processing difficult emotions (*provided you don't use humour as a weapon or a way to chronically avoid your emotions!). Accessing some form of periodic comic relief can go a long way toward lightening the load.
For more information on the importance of dealing with stress check out the links below:
Stress Information Overview (CAMH)
Health Risks of Chronic Stress (Mayo Clinic)
Understanding Chronic Stress (APA)