A list of 21 stress management techniques can sound intimidating. But stress management doesn’t have to be complicated.
Therefore I created a simple stress management techniques list you can also download as a PDF.
What You Will Learn
- Stress Management Techniques for Students and Workers
- Stress Management Techniques at Work
- Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Techniques
One in three employees feels chronically overworked (Galinsky and Bond et al. 2004).
A fast-paced life used to be a necessary evil. Over the decades, it has developed to be the new Porsche in the front yard – a status symbol.
Consequently, being “busy” is like a highly contagious disease and affects every aspect of our lives. Does stress relief at the office have to be as complicated as modern-day life itself?
No. In reality, implementing ways to relieve stress into your life can be way more comfortable than you think.
Here are twenty-one evidence-based stress management techniques you can implement today without sophisticated planning, buying any tools, or consulting an expensive therapist:
Stress Management Techniques for Students and Working People
Stress relief isn’t just for the office. Therefore a beneficial stress management techniques list starts with routines that can be easily implemented at home or in your spare time.
#1 Get More Sleep to Reduce Stress
It’s important to me to start with the most effective example of stress management techniques in the list since it’s also a very straightforward one: Get a sufficient amount of sleep.
Lack of sleep can affect the resiliency of the fight or flight response. According to research, sleep loss results in delayed high cortisol levels.
Hence, these effects are taking place next evening and are also impacting metabolism (Leproult and Copinschi et al. 1997).
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep is by far the most effective stress management technique out there.
Accordingly, deep, sound, relaxing sleep for as little as one or two nights can have more impact on your cortisol levels than a life-time of stress management classes (Talbott 2007).
Furthermore, sleep limits the risk of a variety of chronic diseases. Adequate sleep helps to control your mood and anxiety. On the other hand, it’s boosting your metabolism’s energy level.
Researchers at Columbia University found evidence that sleep disturbance and insomnia are associated with increased blood pressure and vascular inflammation in women.
Moreover, they observed these impacts even in cases of sufficient sleep durations (Aggarwal and Makarem et al. 2018).
Additionally, scientists at Yale University found that men getting less than 6 hours of sleep are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Participants in their study showed high cortisol levels and disturbance of metabolism, causing them to gain weight (Yaggi and Araujo et al. 2006).
#2 Use a Timer to Switch Off Your Wi-Fi
Ambitious people are often trying to get the maximum out of their working time. But we also tend to squeeze the most out of our spare time.
Consequently, taking the working attitude back home is the opposite of a stress management technique.
In a connected world, we spend a lot of time in front of displays. There is always this last idea to look something up online. Therefore, bedtime is often postponed.
Blue light from displays is signaling daytime to our bodies. Hence, ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and cortisol levels increase after 10 PM, giving us a hard time sleeping in the next few hours (Gundry and Buehl 2017).
Fortunately, mobile devices’ night light modes can filter blue light and reduce the stimulating effect.
And for PCs, I recommend the f.lux application to align your display’s blue light radiation to the rhythm of natural sunlight.
But that’s only half of the story. As long as you are mentally involved and in working mode, you will tend to postpone sleep, and cortisol levels will rise beyond their natural rhythm.
Notably, that’s a problem I couldn’t solve until I heard about a simple but effective stress management technique. Many productive people outsmart their bad habits by using a timer switch for their Wi-Fi set to 10 PM.
Although there is a natural degree of reluctance to implement this plan, and you might face a little self-conflict getting interrupted during some research. But there is a new day with a new energy that is yielding better results.
Since the decision takes place outside your controllable sphere, such stress management techniques work. Moreover, they support a healthy sleep rhythm.
On top of that, the Wi-Fi cut is likely to increase your overall productivity. It might even transform you into a morning person.
#3 Get Rid of Your Cell Phone Regularly
Disconnect completely by having cell phone free periods. Also, if the phone is just within range of vision, your brain will be on mild alert for the next notification, message, or call.
Therefore, looking at your phone will start unconscious thought patterns distracting your mind from rest.
When I intend to check the weather, I end up on social media 80 percent of the time without getting to know anything about the weather conditions. Sound familiar?
So do yourself a favor, turn off your cell phone as a way to relieve stress and relax – at least sometimes.
#4 Get a Massage for Stress Relief
Message therapy is not just great to recover from injuries.
Accordingly, researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine observed that massage therapy lowers high cortisol levels.
Moreover, it increases levels of the neurotransmitters and feel good chemicals serotonin and dopamine (Field and Hernandez-Reif 2005).
Furthermore, scientists have shown that simple back massage therapy improves conditions of anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate, sleep quality, and cortisol levels (Pinar and Afsar 2015).
#5 Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Spa bathing reduces stress markers. That’s what researchers at Osaka University observed.
Indeed, they found evidence that cortisol levels are dropping immediately after spa bathing.
#6 Go for a Run, Extended Walk, or Workout
Regular physical activity relaxes the resting tension of muscle spindles. Consequently, it breaks the stress feedback-loop to the brain. If the body is less stressed, the brain can relieve stress too.
Moreover, proper movement affects the cardiovascular system causing blood pressure to fall.
Researchers discovered a hormone called atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) created by muscle tissue in the heart. It directly tempers the fight or flight response and helps to quiet the noise in your brain.
Furthermore, ANP production increases with the heart rate during exercise.
The effects of ANP proof that movement is not just improving the way you feel. Hence exercise is a stress reduction technique that enhances your body’s response to stress (Ratey and Hagerman 2008).
#7 Watch or Read Trash
In a performance-based world, we always tend to suck in as much useful information as possible.
But every now and then there is nothing wrong with just inhaling a junk magazine or a trash film. Above all, we can’t always concentrate on reading non-fiction books or watch documentaries.
With that in mind, we can benefit of reading or even watching a movie as a stress management technique if we can lose ourselves in the content.
Because trash stories can allow the mind to recharge and escape common thinking patterns. Hence, it can come back with more creativity and resilience to stress (Talbott 2007).
#8 Relax as a Stress Management Technique
As a personal optimization nerd, I know giving yourself permission to relax is not easy.
How often do you squeeze tasks into your tight working schedule to get the maximum done and end up with somewhat disappointing results?
Nevertheless, sometimes it’s better to let go if you don’t want to be in the fast lane to burnout. Therefore, focus on the one to three tasks making a significant impact.
Because in a busy life, it’s the moments of relaxation and decompression that are recharging your batteries for the next significant challenges.
#9 Get a Pet to Reduce Stress
A recent study suggests that pet dogs can provide “socio-emotional benefits” for children via stress-buffering. In the presence of their pet dogs, children showed a lower cortisol response to stressors.
Surprisingly, it was not the proximity-seeking behavior of the animals that caused stress resilience. Furthermore, participants initiated the stress-buffering effects by petting the dogs (Kertes and Liu et al. 2017).
Additionally, scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University observed the stress reduction effects of interactions with therapy dogs.
The study found that as little as five minutes of interactions with pets significantly lowered cortisol levels of stressed health care professionals (Barker and Knisely et al. 2005).
#10 Laugh More Often
Having a fun time and laughing mirthfully are old, commonly advised stress management techniques that work.
According to research, laughing is a way to relieve stress while increasing immune system function, on the other hand (Bennett and Zeller et al. 2003).
So, go out, meet some friends, and have fun! Alternatively, watch or read something that’s stimulating your sense of humor.
#11 Relieve Stress Through Socializing
A study conducted at the State University of New York at Buffalo suggests that people with the least social connections are most likely to develop anxiety and depression.
Social support can act as a buffer to poor health conditions based on a stressful, fast-paced life (Cadzow and Servoss 2009).
Likewise, maintaining social networks and in particular, spending time with family and friends helps to cope with chronic stress.
Furthermore, researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital found that the presence of friends helps to buffer a rise in cortisol levels and negative experiences (Adams and Santo et al. 2011).
Stress Management Techniques at Work
Although we are already experts in promoting leisure-time stress, work remains the primary source of stress for most of us.
Therefore the following techniques aim at relieving stress and pressure you feel at the office in a simple way.
To keep an overview of the examples, I highly recommend printing out the free 21 stress management techniques list PDF.
#12 Rethink Your E-Mail Habits
Standard e-mail software is set to check for new messages every few minutes, close to real-time.
I’m sure we can agree that you aren’t just getting stressed, but also distracted from important work by always checking e-mails. With that in mind, turn off notifications to make your life simpler.
Furthermore, if you want to gain efficiency block specific hours of your working day to reply to e-mails.
So you will be able to get things done in unblocked periods. It’s even possible to reduce e-mail periods incrementally.
Since busy people like best-selling author Tim Ferris get along with just one time slot for e-mail answering a week, you can too.
Nevertheless, urgent topics will find their way to you on other channels.
#13 Reduce Caffeine Intake
Stimulants like caffeine can lead an already stimulated nervous system from mild alertness to nervousness and ultimately anxiety.
#14 Take Breaks for Stress Management
During work, we all try to focus on tasks. As you can imagine, I also sit a lot in front of the computer.
Hence, getting a break every two hours helps me to re-structure thoughts, prioritize, and make decisions more clearly. Because getting some movement and fresh air helps to clear a foggy mind.
Moreover, inspirational ideas usually arise when you don’t force yourself to think. A short meditation is an excellent way to relieve stress and to get back to work refreshed and focused.
Simple activities like having a chat with co-workers or taking a short walk will also have an immediate impact on your mind supporting stress relief at the office.
The worst habit of modern-day life is having lunch in front of your computer. It’s a mixture of low-quality work and low-quality food.
Hence we are often trading bad results on two of the most critical realms to save a few minutes.
Trying to incorporate eating and working is getting us even more stressed. Thus, high cortisol levels are the consequence.
With this in mind, having a real lunch break with real food and conversations with real people is a great old fashioned example of stress management techniques on the list.
Not to mention that almost any on the go foods will be rich in refined carbohydrates and sugar.
Consequently, we trigger the release of crucial hormones within the endocrine system. Higher insulin and cortisol levels in our bodies is the metabolically lousy outcome.
Moreover, starchy food, the ensuing blood sugar, and insulin release inhibit satiety hormones from signaling to our brain that we are full. Consequently, appetite will arise soon.
In brief, a full hour of the lunch break as a stress management technique at work is boosting productivity and creativity.
#15 Take One Full Day Off Work Each Week
Cut yourself loose from any work for a whole day per week. Accordingly, that also includes side projects, charity projects, etc.
Therefore, don’t give your mind chances to pick up thinking patterns from work or worries about work. And treat yourself with the luxury of doing nothing as a way to relieve stress.
For example, wake up, enjoy a coffee or tea without hurrying. Then take a walk or re-create with physical activities you love.
Furthermore, you can read the book that you are usually picking up for some minutes during commuting and read it without looking at the clock.
In conclusion, stacking “do-nothing Sundays” without any performance goals will re-charge your body and your mind in a way you might not have imagined (Talbott 2007).
Moreover, not doing anything can give back a lot, and you might be able to identify the one big thing you want to pursue with all your energy in the future.
#16 Relieve Stress on a Long Weekend Off
Many things related to health and nutrition may sound counterintuitive. However, this recommendation is straightforward.
Taking a long weekend is one of the most effective stress management techniques for working people.
As long as you get entirely disconnected from work and other mental stressors, it will definitely help to relieve stress.
Moreover, your cortisol levels and your immune system will benefit from a third day without emails, constant messaging, and related restless thought patterns.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Techniques (MBSR)
While meditation and yoga are the primary examples of mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, there is no strict limitation of ways to relieve stress.
Hence, you can tailor a mindfulness-based approach individually to fit your everyday life.
The main idea behind mindfulness-based stress reduction is to fully live in the present moment by conscious, repeated practice to build up awareness.
Therefore, it’s a lifestyle change focusing on stepping out of the clock of time.
#17 Use Mental Affirmations
Researchers at UCLA observed that people encouraging themselves through affirmations cope with stressful situations more easily.
Notably, those mentally stating personal values responded with significantly lower cortisol levels to stressors (Creswell and Welch et al. 2005).
#18 Start Meditation for Stress Reduction
A recent study conducted at the University of Minnesota suggests that meditative and mindful practices positively impact biological stress system functioning.
Additionally, researchers at the Alberta Cancer Board have shown that gentle activities like meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises are quite impactful.
Their mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques decreased stress symptoms while increasing sleep and overall life quality of cancer patients (Carlson and Speca et al. 2004).
Honestly, it’s not easy to start meditating, especially if you are a busy business person with an almost restless mind. I failed my first attempt to begin meditating based on literature.
Hence, meditation is like a muscle. You need to practice regularly to build it up.
Accordingly, incorporating meditation for stress reduction into my morning routine and using an app for guided meditation did the trick for me.
Therefore, getting up, brushing my teeth, and meditating is what I do every morning before checking any messages or emails.
Notably, the guided meditation app helped a lot to get started.
Furthermore, it helped me to figure out that meditation is not about suppressing thoughts. The results can be remarkable.
In conclusion, regular meditation for stress reduction can fundamentally change your relationship to thoughts and feelings to significantly enhance overall mental well-being.
#19 Try Imagery Exercises
Stress management techniques using imaging solutions to relaxation and stress relief are a field related to meditation.
Hence, participants of guided imagery exercises are practicing to replace unpleasant mental images related to stress with more convenient thoughts (Talbott 2007).
Researchers at Kyoto University suggest that regular practice of guided-imagery for stress reduction leads to lower cortisol levels and better health.
Because the longer the practice duration of subjects was, the lower the score of their stress markers got (Watanabe and Fukuda 2005).
#20 Listen to Relaxing Music as a Stress Relief
You might have asked yourself if relaxing music as a stress relief is a valid stress management technique and more effective than silence in the first place. Fortunately, French researchers aimed to solve this question.
Therefore they put 24 students in a psychologically stressful situation and regularly monitored their cortisol levels.
Notably, the group listening to relaxing music as stress relief was able to cease the rise of cortisol immediately.
On the contrary, participants experiencing silence after the stressor showed higher cortisol levels, which continued to rise for 30 minutes (Khalfa and Bella et al. 2003).
With this in mind, I am using music to wind down and to focus on work calmly. So here is some music I can recommend:
#21 Join a Yoga Class for Stress Management
A recent meta-analysis of forty-two studies examined the effects of yoga practices as physiological stress management techniques.
Therefore the study compared participants practicing yoga with and without additional mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques to an active control group.
The yoga and MBSR practitioners were able to reduce evening cortisol levels, waking cortisol levels, blood pressure, resting heart rate, high-frequency heart rate variability, fasting blood glucose, cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (Pascoe and Thompson et al. 2017).
Stressful situations will inevitably arise at work, in daily human interactions, and even in your spare time.
However, how you are approaching and managing pressure is in your control. Daily stress management techniques can be surprisingly simple and sustainably increase well-being.
Likewise, these straightforward tricks often engage everyday habits, disconnect from work, mentally rewiring the relationship to stressors, and bypassing the body and mind.
Therefore, minimal regular efforts like breaks, ten minutes of meditation, or a full day off work per week are building up to reduce stress and increase work-life balance in the long run.
To help you reap the benefits of stress management techniques, I created a PDF list to download.
PIN ME FOR LATER
Stress Management Techniques FAQ
How can I relax my mind?
Simple stress reduction techniques to relax your mind are meditation, going for a run or extended walk, or listening to relaxing music.
How can I relax my brain from stress?
Physical activities like running relax the resting tension of muscle spindles. Consequently, they break the stress feedback-loop to the brain. If the body is less stressed, the brain can relieve stress too.
What are the five stress management techniques?
Sufficient Sleep (8-9 hours), Exercise, Meditation, Reducing Caffeine Intake and Yoga are five simple but effective stress management techniques.
What are some stress management techniques?
Here are some stress management techniques you might not have been aware of: Laugh, Socialize, Get More Sleep, Cut Back in Caffeine.
A – E
Adams RE, Santo JB, Bukowski WM. The presence of a best friend buffers the effects of negative experiences. Dev Psychol. 2011 Nov;47(6):1786-91. doi: 10.1037/a0025401. Epub 2011 Sep 5. PubMed PMID: 21895364.
Aggarwal B, Makarem N, Shah R, Emin M, Wei Y, St-Onge MP, Jelic S. Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Blood Pressure and Endothelial Inflammation in Women: Findings From the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Strategically Focused Research Network. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018 Jun 9;7(12). doi: 10.1161/JAHA.118.008590. PubMed PMID: 29886425; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6220553.
Barker SB, Knisely JS, McCain NL, Best AM. Measuring stress and immune response in healthcare professionals following interaction with a therapy dog: a pilot study. Psychol Rep. 2005 Jun;96(3 Pt 1):713-29. doi: 10.2466/pr0.96.3.713-729. PubMed PMID: 16050629.
Cadzow RB, Servoss TJ. The association between perceived social support and health among patients at a free urban clinic. J Natl Med Assoc. 2009 Mar;101(3):243-50. doi: 10.1016/s0027-9684(15)30852-x. PubMed PMID: 19331256.
Carlson LE, Speca M, Patel KD, Goodey E. Mindfulness-based stress reduction in relation to quality of life, mood, symptoms of stress and levels of cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and melatonin in breast and prostate cancer outpatients. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004 May;29(4):448-74. PubMed PMID: 14749092.
Creswell JD, Welch WT, Taylor SE, Sherman DK, Gruenewald TL, Mann T. Affirmation of personal values buffers neuroendocrine and psychological stress responses. Psychol Sci. 2005 Nov;16(11):846-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01624.x. PubMed PMID: 16262767.
F – O
Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. Int J Neurosci. 2005 Oct;115(10):1397-413. doi: 10.1080/00207450590956459. PubMed PMID: 16162447.
Kertes DA, Liu J, Hall NJ, Hadad NA, Wynne CDL, Bhatt SS. Effect of Pet Dogs on Children’s Perceived Stress and Cortisol Stress Response. Soc Dev. 2017 May;26(2):382-401. doi: 10.1111/sode.12203. Epub 2016 Jul 28. PubMed PMID: 28439150; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5400290.
Khalfa S, Bella SD, Roy M, Peretz I, Lupien SJ. Effects of relaxing music on salivary cortisol level after psychological stress. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Nov;999:374-6. doi: 10.1196/annals.1284.045. PubMed PMID: 14681158.
Klimes-Dougan B, Chong LS, Samikoglu A, Thai M, Amatya P, Cullen KR, Lim KO. Transcendental Meditation and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Functioning: A Pilot, Randomized Controlled Trial with Young Adults. Stress. 2019 Aug 16;:1-33. doi: 10.1080/10253890.2019.1656714. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31418329.
P – Z
Pascoe MC, Thompson DR, Ski CF. Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 Dec;86:152-168. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.08.008. Epub 2017 Aug 30. PubMed PMID: 28963884.
Pinar R, Afsar F. Back Massage to Decrease State Anxiety, Cortisol Level, Blood Prsessure, Heart Rate and Increase Sleep Quality in Family Caregivers of Patients with Cancer: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16(18):8127-33. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2015.16.18.8127. PubMed PMID: 26745049.
Toubro S, Astrup A, Breum L, Quaade F. The acute and chronic effects of ephedrine/caffeine mixtures on energy expenditure and glucose metabolism in humans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1993 Dec;17 Suppl 3:S73-7; discussion S82. PubMed PMID: 8124407.
Watanabe E, Fukuda S, Shirakawa T. Effects among healthy subjects of the duration of regularly practicing a guided imagery program. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2005 Dec 20;5:21. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-5-21. PubMed PMID: 16368006; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1343583.
Yaggi HK, Araujo AB, McKinlay JB. Sleep duration as a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2006 Mar;29(3):657-61. doi: 10.2337/diacare.29.03.06.dc05-0879. PubMed PMID: 16505522.