Stress. We’ve all felt it at some point in our lives. For some of us, it feels unending. But while you may not be able to avoid stress altogether, you can experiment with different ways to relieve it.
Whether you’ve run out of ideas or you simply want to try something new, this list of less common stress relievers has got you covered.
1. Use guided imagery
While reality might prevent you from hopping on a flight to Bora Bora, you’d be surprised at how good your mind can be at convincing you you’re somewhere else.
Guided imagery is a bit like meditation, except instead of being passive and clearing your mind, you’re actively imagining your happy place. It allows you to take a break from whatever is bothering you by escaping into your mind for a few minutes.
All you have to do is close your eyes and picture yourself in a relaxing place. Immerse yourself fully in the experience, allowing yourself to see, hear, taste, and feel the things you would if you were actually there.
2. Practice progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a way to relieve stress that involves tensing and releasing your muscles. It’s based on the idea that when your body is relaxed, your mind follows. It also teaches you how to recognize tension so that you can relax.
To do it, focus on one muscle group at a time. Tense your muscles, hold for a few seconds, and then relax completely.
Progressive muscle relaxation can bring immediate stress relief. If you practice it regularly, it can have positive long-term effects as well.
3. Hug someone
Nothing can replace the feeling of getting a hug from someone you care about. It might sound too simple to work, but science can back it up. Hugging releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is associated with love, happiness, and reduced stress.
Plus, since a hug involves two people, you’ll also be helping your loved one feel better!
Tip: How to Relieve Stress Quickly
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4. Go outside barefoot
Humans were never meant to stay inside a box all day. Our ancient ancestors wouldn’t believe their eyes if they saw how we live. It’s no wonder why we feel so stressed and on edge when we’re stuck at home!
Luckily, many of us have outdoor spots nearby that are safe to hang out in. If you’ve never stepped into a field of grass barefoot, you have to try it. Not only does the grass feel amazing between your toes, but the beauty of the nature around you pulls your thoughts away from any stressors in your life.
Sometimes all it takes to feel human again is to connect with nature and remember where we came from.
5. Do something silly
As adults, we get so caught up in our everyday responsibilities that we forget about the simple things that made us happy as kids. Whatever those things were, you’re never too old to feel young. Return to them (if your body can handle them, of course — let’s be realistic here!).
Challenge yourself to build the biggest snowman you can. Put on your fanciest dress and pretend you’re a princess. Find a pile of leaves and jump in it.
Wait until you’re alone if you’re too embarrassed, but trust me. It’ll put everything into perspective and you’ll feel much better.
6. Do something creative
This could be anything. A lot of people I know don’t think they’re creative, but everyone has some creativity in them. Something as simple as coloring could do the trick. There are even adult coloring books that are meant to put you in a meditative state and relieve stress.
When you create something, you’re putting your attention toward something productive rather than dwelling on whatever is stressing you out. And when you’ve finished, you may find that it helped you get your feelings out in a healthy way.
7. Find a strange new food or drink
We all have our “usual” orders. Sometimes the easiest way to reduce stress is to turn to our favorite comfort food. But sometimes, trying something new and breaking the routine is what we need.
“Strange” doesn’t have to mean gross or overly adventurous. It can just mean something that you wouldn’t think to try on your own. There are so many flavors to explore. You could buy a new chip flavor at your local grocery store or pick up a fruit you’ve never heard of at the Asian food market. If you find you enjoy it, you could try a subscription box that offers international snacks full of unique tastes.
8. Try aromatherapy
Aromatherapy uses the aroma of natural essential oils to enhance wellbeing. A common way to enjoy aromatherapy is by using a diffuser, but that’s not the only way.
There are all sorts of oils for different moods and ailments. You can even mix and match oils to concoct the perfect scent for you.
Essential oils that are good for stress include lavender, chamomile, lemon, bergamot, and ylang-ylang.
9. Rearrange your furniture
Sometimes stress can come from feeling stuck and not knowing where to go. When we feel trapped, we need change.
Before you start getting even more stressed out about the idea of moving your furniture around, know that you don’t have to give your room a whole makeover. Something as small as pushing your armchair to the opposite corner can make it feel like an entirely new room. The next time you sit in the chair, you’ll see things from a new perspective. And sometimes that’s all you need to break the boredom and become unstuck.
10. Reevaluate your calendar
While there are some stressors you can’t control, it’s a good idea to identify the ones you can. It sounds like a no-brainer, but there’s only so much you can do in a day without getting burned out. If you’re constantly stressed, think about whether you’re trying to do too much.
If the answer is yes, figure out how you can reduce your workload or change your schedule to fit your life better. Do you spend too much time vacuuming? Hire a house cleaner. Do you work late on Wednesdays? Ask your partner if they’ll cook dinner on Wednesdays in exchange for an equal chore on another day.
As you go through this process, moving things off your to-do list will bring immediate relief. You’ll also be doing your future self a huge favor by getting organized.