19th November, 20194 min read

8 ways to quickly relieve stress

Last reviewed: 19/11/2019
Medically reviewed

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There are many ways to reduce your stress levels. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and finding a relaxing hobby can help all help. But, it can take time to notice the stress-relieving effects of these activities.

So, what should you do if you need instant relief?

Read on to discover 8 tricks you can use for quick, natural stress relief.

Stress-relieving techniques

Think positively

When life feels very stressful, it’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong. However, focusing on the positive things in your life may help you feel better. Make a list of the things you’re thankful for or list the things that have gone well for you so far this week.

Take a break

Working too much can prevent you from relaxing, getting enough exercise and spending time with loved ones - 3 things that can make you feel less stressed.

Always try to take your full lunch break when you're at work. If this isn’t possible, a few minutes away from your desk can be enough to interrupt your stress-response cycle. When you next feel your stress levels rising, step away from your work for 10 minutes and go for a walk.

Try aromatherapy for stress relief

Research suggests that the scent of some essential oils may help promote relaxation and even lower blood pressure. Lavender oil has been found to help people perform better while under stress. If you need a quick stress reliever, try bergamot, lemongrass, neroli, yuzu, lavender or orange scents. Buy them as pure oils, candles or scent packets.

Mix a couple of drops of essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut, almond or olive oil before applying it to your skin. Alternatively, keep a scent packet on your desk and smell it whenever you feel tense.

Chew sugar-free gum

Studies have shown that chewing gum may help lower stress. But, the reason why it has this effect is not fully understood. A theory is that the act of chewing may reduce levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Studies also suggest that habitual gum chewers may be less stressed throughout the day, not just when they're chewing gum. Choose a sugar-free option to help protect your teeth from decay.

Fun stress-relieving activities

Book a stress-relieving massage

Massage therapists press and manipulate your muscles to ease pain or tension, improve circulation and increase flexibility. This can lower your heart rate, relax your body and calm your mind - and it doesn’t have to take more than an hour.

A second option is to give yourself a hand or neck massage to help focus your mind on your body and distract it from the source of stress.

Get moving

Concentrating on movement can help to distract you from your problems. This is because making repetitive movements while exercising encourages you to focus on your body rather than your mind.

Almost any kind of exercise can deliver stress relief. However, take care to choose an activity you enjoy. If your chosen stress-reducing workout is something you dislike, the mere thought of it could leave you feeling more anxious than calm. Working out with someone else can improve the stress-relieving benefits of exercise.

Cuddle your pet

Interacting with animals can trigger the release of a brain chemical called oxytocin that helps to elevate our mood. A good way to combine the stress-relieving benefits of exercise with those of playing with an animal is to take a dog for a walk.

Play a relaxing song

Music is a great tool for stress relief. It can lower your heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone levels. Slow-paced instrumental music is particularly good at triggering this relaxing response. But all music can be beneficial as long as you enjoy it.

Soothing nature sounds like bird calls or falling rain can also help to bring about calm.

If you're ready to feel less stressed, why not try some of the techniques recommended in this article. Download our app and use the mood tracker to see which one has the best effect on your mood.

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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.