17 Highly Effective Stress Relievers

These are all the result of what’s happening inside your body. “The minute you start to experience stress, your pulse races, your heart beats faster and hormones are released,” she says. “This compromises your immune system and your ability to experience relaxation.” When you’re able to recognize the signs — instead of ignoring them — you’ll be able to start addressing the underlying cause of the stress.

There are a myriad of techniques you can incorporate daily that can help you relax and de-stress. You can simply try deep belly breathing, focusing on full, cleansing breaths. You can sit and meditate silently, Therapist or use Youtube to find a relaxing meditation sequence to listen to. You can practice yoga or tai chi, either at home or in a studio. The idea is to do something that you enjoy and that relaxes you every day.

Similarly, you may use alcohol as a means to manage and cope with difficult feelings, and to temporarily reduce feelings of anxiety. However, alcohol may make existing mental health problems worse. It can make you feel more anxious and depressed in the long run.30 It is important to know the recommended limits31 and drink responsibly. Kissing releases chemicals that lower hormones associated with stress, like cortisol. Forming positive relationships is also a good way to reduce overall stress and anxiety.

While no one can avoid all stress, you can work to handle it in healthy ways that increase your potential to recover. Eighty percent of Americans are stressed at work, according to a recent study by Nielsen for Everest College. Low pay, unreasonable workloads, and hectic commutes were the top sources of tension, followed closely by obnoxious coworkers. What exacerbates the problem is that “people walk into work already laden with stress,” says Maria Gonzalez, the founder and president of Argonauta Strategic Alliances Consulting and the author of Mindful Leadership.

When faced with stressful situations, you may find yourself totally stuck and unable to take action. Your challenge is to break free of your “frozen” state by rebooting your nervous system and reactivating the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” stress response. Physical movement that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, swimming, running, dancing, climbing, or tai chi, can be particularly helpful.

But in the heat of the moment, during a high-pressured job interview, for example, or a disagreement with your spouse, you can’t just excuse yourself to meditate or take a long walk. In these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible. Following are six relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress. A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but it can help you feel better, even if you have to force a fake laugh through your grumpiness. When you laugh, it not only lightens your mental load but also causes positive physical changes in your body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response.