Everyone deals with stress and anxiety in their own way, but trying to beat the stress while you’re stressed can be tough. However, finding the right stress management activities that work for you might be easier than you think.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or just plain stressed out, try out these three easy stress management techniques anyone can do, and watch your stress levels melt away!
1. Get Some Exercise
When you’re feeling stressed out, sometimes the last thing you want to do is exercise. After all, exercise takes time, and maybe if there was more time in the day, you wouldn’t feel so stressed out.
However, numerous scientific studies show exercise is not only effective at reducing stress, but it also helps us manage, and maybe even prevent chronic illnesses. Exercise is also linked to improved memory and cognitive function over time, as well as improved self-esteem. Those are a lot of reasons to consider exercising when you’re stressed. So, when you’re feeling a bit more stressed out than you’d like, a brisk 30-minute walk, or an evening bike ride, can be a great way to burn off some steam and feel better afterward.1
Exercise clearly has some positive physical and health impacts on your body, but another amazing benefit of regular exercise is it releases something called “endorphins.”2 Endorphins are chemicals produced by your brain that send signals from one place to the next. They’re also hormones that are responsible for helping people feel happier. And because of that trait, they’re also known as the “happy” hormone!3
But how much exercise do you need to get the benefits of endorphins? Surprisingly, not that much. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ––4
Getting just 30 minutes of moderate-to-high intensity exercise at least five days a week should be the goal for healthy individuals.
Of course, before starting out any new exercise routine, be sure to consult with your physician first.
2. Time to Meditate
There will be stressful days where exercise is simply out of the question. On those days where you can’t seem to squeeze in a workout, or just don’t feel like it, it can be beneficial to seek stress relief in the calming powers of meditation. One of the great benefits of meditation, aside from easing anxiety, is you can do it in a number of different ways, and in nearly any environment.
Why meditate? Studies have shown meditation is an effective tool for easing stress and anxiety.5 And while meditation may be a key to reducing stress, it has some great side effects, too. In fact, people who practice meditation regularly see improvements in their overall mood, the quality of their sleep, and their mental clarity.6
If you’re new to meditation, or if past efforts haven’t been successful for you, here are a few ideas that’ll help you start experiencing the benefits of meditation.
- Set Your Routine
Making meditation a regular practice doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time, but in order to make a habit out of it, you should try to practice meditation once a day
So, find a consistent time every day (preferably in the morning, before your day’s “To Do” list starts growing) where you can sit quietly for two minutes. That’s all. Just two minutes.
During those two minutes, focus on your breathing. Breathe in, and then breathe out. As you do so, notice how the air fills your lungs as you inhale, and how they empty as you exhale. Focusing on your breathing helps you tune out other distractions that may be keeping you from reducing your stress.7
Now, if you’re still not sure how to get started, there are a lot of apps and websites available that can actually guide you through your meditation exercises.
- Listen to Calming Music
Make a playlist with soft, soothing music. It can be a list of classical composers, soft electronic beats, or even sounds of crashing ocean waves. Find tunes you find relaxing. When you’re starting to feel stressed out, listen to your playlist: studies have shown listening to music can help improve your body’s response to stress.8
In our modern world, it seems like everyone is connected to everything all the time. From smartphones to smartwatches and internet-enabled TVs, people are receiving email notifications, unwanted advertisements, and spam phone calls 24-hours a day. Even if you’re not actively looking at your phone, you may still be thinking about a post someone wrote on one of your social media channels that isn’t sitting well with you.
Being tuned in all the time can cause stress levels to soar.
Interestingly, some people claim browsing social media when they’re stressed out helps them relax, but research paints a much different story. In fact, using social media to “de-stress” may be doing just the opposite. Turns out, social media usage actually slows down your body’s natural recovery process after a stressful event.
This means if you’re feeling stressed, using social media as a stress management activity will likely prolong your feelings of stress.9
Of course, for some people, unplugging isn’t that simple. There are work demands, kids and spouses who need to be able to reach you… the list goes on. If totally unplugging (even for a little bit) is out of the question, you could always try to reduce the number of times you reach for your smartphone or tablet when you’re bored. Instead of reaching for your device, try doodling on a notepad or writing in a journal. Writing is an effective way to beat stress and has even been linked to improved physical health and a stronger immune system.10
You can still keep your technology “on,” but you try to minimize the pull it has on your time.
Find What’s Right for You
Exercise, meditation, and unplugging are just three great ways you can start to introduce stress management activities into your daily life. By actively working on stress relief, you may start to see improvements in how quickly you feel better. And while there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing your stress, there is plenty of research out there to help you find the right fit for you.
So, next time you feel your stress level beginning to tick up, try one of the activities above and say goodbye to stress.
For more health wisdom from Eastern philosophies, keep reading here:
10 Organizational Tips to Help Your Day Run Smoothly
How to Relax Your Mind Like an Urban Monk
How Gratitude Makes You Happier (And Why Science Agrees!)
4.DHHS (2002). Physical Activity Fundamental to Preventing Disease.
Washington: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation