With its series of postures and controlled-breathing exercises, yoga is a popular stress reliever. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety. Try yoga on your own or find a class — you can find classes in most communities. Hatha yoga, in particular, is a good stress reliever because of its slower pace and easier movements.
Get enough sleep
Stress often gives sleep the heave-ho. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep suffers. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge.
And the quality and amount of sleep you get affects your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, put clocks away, and stick to a consistent schedule.
Keep a journal
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions. Don't think about what to write — just let it happen. Write whatever comes to mind. No one else needs to read it, so don't strive for perfection in grammar or spelling. Just let your thoughts flow on paper — or computer screen. Once you're done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later.
Get musical and be creative
Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it provides a mental distraction, reduces muscle tension and decreases stress hormones. Crank up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music.
If music isn't your thing, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy, such as gardening, sewing, sketching — anything that requires you to focus on what you're doing rather than what you think you should be doing.
If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if self-care measures just aren't relieving your stress, you may need to look for reinforcements in the form of therapy or counseling. Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
Jul. 11, 2013
See more In-depth
- Lehrer PM, et al. Principles and practice of stress management. 3rd ed. Spring Street, N.Y.: Guilford Press; 2007:333.
- Strohle A. Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of Neural Transmission. 2009;116:777.
- Lane JD, et al. Brief meditation training can improve perceived stress and negative mood. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2007;13:38.
- Meditation: An introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm?nav=gsa#meditation. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Karren KJ, et al. Mind/Body Health: The Effect of Attitudes, Emotions and Relationships. New York, N.Y.: Benjamin Cummings; 2010.
- Bennett MP, et al. The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2003;9:38.
- Sood A. Log On: Two Steps to Mindful Awareness. Rochester, Minn.: Morning Dew Publications; 2009:354.
- Seaward BL. Essentials of Managing Stress. 3rd ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2014:132.
- Yoga for health: An introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Javnbakht M, et al. Effects of yoga on depression and anxiety of women. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2009;15:102.
- Music therapy. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/MindBodyandSpirit/music-therapy. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Mind-body health: Stress. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Stress: Coping with everyday problems. National Mental Health Association. http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/stress/stress-coping-with-everyday-problems. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 10, 2013.