What Are the Top 10 Stress Relievers?

Reviewed on 2/3/2022
Woman doing yoga in the woods for stress relief
The top 10 ways to relieve stress include exercise, taking control of the situation, connecting with others, taking time for yourself, setting goals and challenging yourself, falling into unhealthy habits, helping others, prioritizing your workload, staying positive, and accepting what you cannot change.

Stress is the body’s reaction to mental, emotional, or physical pressures. Stress can affect everyone differently, and some people can experience physical and emotional symptoms as reactions to stress.

In the short-term, stress can be beneficial and can help people cope with potentially serious situations. But chronic stress can cause changes in emotions and behavior as well as physical symptoms that can impact health and well-being. 

For those experiencing stress that affects their everyday life, 10 stress relievers include:

  1. Exercise
    • Can help reduce some of the emotional intensity of the stress and help you deal with problems
  2. Take control of the situation
    • Believe there is a solution that satisfies you and take action
  3. Connect with others
    • Family, friends, and co-workers can offer support
    • Activities and laughter with a support network help you relax
  4. Take time for yourself
    • Set aside time for yourself away from work
  5. Set goals and challenge yourself
    • Continue to learn, whether it’s a new language or new sport
  6. Don’t fall into unhealthy habits
  7. Help others
    • Volunteer or do community service to help put your problems into perspective
    • If you can’t volunteer, do a favor for someone else
  8. Prioritize your workload
    • Concentrate on the tasks that make the most difference and know that it’s ok to still have less important tasks left at the end of the day
  9.  Stay positive
    • Find things for which you are grateful and appreciate what you have
    • Write down what you’re grateful for or what made you happy each day
  10. Accept what you cannot change
    • Focus on what you can control 

Other ways to relieve stress include: 

  • Relax in nature
  • Learn positive self-talk
    • For example, instead of saying “Everything always goes wrong,” say, “I can handle this one step at a time.”
  • If you feel stressed, try something that makes you feel happy for 10-15 minutes
    • Read a book
    • See a friend
    • Play with your kids or pets
    • Take a walk outside
    • Work in the garden
    • Take a relaxing bath
  • Practice stress reduction techniques
    • Deep breathing
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
  • Talk therapy
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
    • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Medication
  • Ecotherapy
    • This involves spending time in nature, such as taking walks outside, hiking, gardening, having a picnic, camping
  • Complementary and alternative therapies

What Are Symptoms of Stress?

Symptoms of stress may include:


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What Causes Stress?

Stress can be triggered by:

  • Overwhelming responsibilities 
  • Uncertainty
  • Facing big life changes
  • Feeling pressured
  • Worry
  • Lack of control over the outcome of a situation

Things that can cause the above feelings that trigger stress include everyday events and situations such as:

  • Conflict with family, friends, or coworkers
  • Everyday tasks such as travel or household chores
  • Illness or injury
  • Loss of a loved one or pet
  • Deadlines
  • Difficult issues at work
  • Chronic illness
  • The breakup of a relationship
  • Being a caregiver
  • Job loss
  • Long-term unemployment
  • Exams
  • Housing problems such as poor living conditions, lack of security, or homelessness
  • Money concerns
  • Poverty
  • Debt

Even happy situations can cause stress, such as:

  • A new job
  • Buying a new home/moving
  • Marriage
  • Pregnancy and becoming a parent
  • Planning a big event
  • Retiring

How Is Stress Diagnosed?

Stress is not generally a medical diagnosis. It may be diagnosed by a mental health professional with a variety of questions. 

Certain types of stress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are psychiatric conditions that can be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Usually people have to meet certain criteria to receive a diagnosis of a psychiatric illness. 

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Reviewed on 2/3/2022
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