Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out? You’re not alone. In today’s fast-paced world, stress and stress management techniques become an inevitable part of our lives.
According to a recent study, work stress has increased since 1995, and there is no indication that this trend will stop soon (Rigo et al. 20211).
The good news is that effective stress management methods can help you regain control and restore balance. This article will explore 21 proven techniques to reduce stress and promote a sense of calm and well-being.
Stress management is a collective term for methods and coping strategies to reduce or eliminate psychologically and physically stressful situations.
These techniques offer practical ways to alleviate stress and improve overall well-being, from meditation and deep breathing exercises to physical activity and self-hygiene. Whether you’re a busy professional, a student, or a stay-at-home parent, these techniques can easily be integrated into your daily routine.
Discover how to quiet your mind and find inner peace with mindfulness practices, learn to release tension and promote relaxation through physical activity, and explore the power of gratitude and positive affirmations in cultivating a more positive mindset.
Now is the time to take charge of your stress and embrace a more balanced and fulfilling life. Try these effective stress management techniques today and experience the transformative power of finding calm amidst the chaos.
Table of Contents:
- Stress Management Techniques for Students
- Stress Management Techniques at Work
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Management Techniques
Stress Management Techniques for Students
Our list of effective stress management techniques starts with routines that can be easily implemented at home without expensive tools.
1. Get More Sleep
It’s essential to start with the most compelling example of stress management techniques in the list since it’s also very straightforward: Get sufficient 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 occur the following evening and impact metabolism (Leproult et al. 19972).
Getting enough 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 lifetime of stress management classes.
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 sufficient sleep durations (Aggarwal et al. 20183).
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 et al. 20064).
2. Use a Wi-Fi Timer
Ambitious people often try 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 much 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.
Fortunately, mobile devices’ night light modes can filter blue light and reduce the stimulating effect.
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. If 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 p.m.
Although there is a natural reluctance to implement this plan, you might face a little self-conflict getting interrupted during some research. But there is a new day with new energy-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 within range of vision, your brain will be on mild alert for the following 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 knowing anything about the weather conditions. Sound familiar?
So, do yourself a favor. Turn off your cell phone to relieve stress and relax – at least sometimes.
4. Get a Massage
Message therapy is not just great for recovering from injuries.
Accordingly, researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine observed that massage therapy lowers high cortisol levels.
Moreover, it increases neurotransmitters and feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine (Field et al 20055).
Furthermore, scientists have shown that simple back massage therapy improves anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate, sleep quality, and cortisol levels (Pinar et al. 20156).
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 drop immediately after spa bathing.
Moreover, especially highly stressed participants experienced significant benefits from the stress management technique (Toda et al. 20067).
6. Go for a Run or Walk
Regular physical activity relaxes the resting tension of muscle spindles. Consequently, it breaks the stress feedback loop in the brain. The brain can relieve stress if the body is less stressed.
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 may directly temper the fight or flight response and has a stress-reducing effect. Furthermore, ANP production increases with the heart rate during exercise (Olivieri et al. 20198).
The effects of ANP prove that movement is not just improving how you feel. Hence, exercise is a stress reduction technique that enhances your body’s response to stress.
7. Watch or Read Trash
We always suck in as much helpful information as possible in a performance-based world.
But now and then, there is nothing wrong with inhaling a junk magazine or a trash film. Above all, we can’t always concentrate on reading non-fiction books or watching documentaries.
With that in mind, we can benefit from reading or watching a movie as a stress management technique if we 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.
8. Give Yourself Time to Relax
As a personal optimization nerd, I know permitting yourself 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, the moments of relaxation and decompression recharge your batteries for the following significant challenges.
9. Get a Pet
A recent study suggests that pet dogs can provide “socio-emotional benefits” for children via stress-buffering. Children showed a lower cortisol response to stressors in the presence of their pet dogs.
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 et al. 20179).
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 the cortisol levels of stressed healthcare professionals (Barker et al. 200510).
10. Laugh More Often
Having fun 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 et al. 200311).
So, go out, meet some friends, and have fun! Alternatively, watch or read something that’s stimulating your sense of humor.
11. Meet Friends
A study 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 buffer poor health conditions based on a stressful, fast-paced life (Cadzow et al. 200912).
Likewise, maintaining social networks and spending time with family and friends helps cope with 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 et al. 201113).
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 the stress and pressure you feel at the office.
12. Rethink Your E-Mail Habits
Standard e-mail software is set to check for new messages every few minutes, close to real-time.
We can agree that you aren’t just getting stressed and distracted from important work by constantly 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 and Alcohol
Stimulants like caffeine can lead an already stimulated nervous system from mild alertness to nervousness and, ultimately, anxiety.
Hence, reducing caffeine and dietary supplements containing stimulants can help cope with stressful situations (Toubro et al. 199314).
Some people try to counteract the alertness of caffeine with alcohol post-work. That’s not an effective way to reduce stress.
According to a 2017 study, alcohol is a potent stressor that can alter the brain’s stress pathways (Becker 201715).
14. Take Regular Breaks
During work, we all try to focus on tasks. As you can imagine, I also sit in front of the computer.
Hence, getting a break every two hours helps me to restructure 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 chatting with co-workers or taking a short walk will also immediately impact 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 often trade 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 tremendous 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 the metabolically lousy outcomes.
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 boosts productivity and creativity.
15. Take A Full Day Off Weekly
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 to relieve stress.
For example, wake up and 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 you usually pick up for some minutes while commuting and read it without looking at the clock.
In conclusion, stacking “do-nothing Sundays” without performance goals will recharge your body and mind in a way you might not have imagined.
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. Enjoy 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 help to relieve stress.
Moreover, your cortisol levels and immune system will benefit from a third day without emails, constant messaging, and related restless thought patterns.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Management Techniques
The main idea behind mindfulness-based stress reduction is to fully live in the present moment through conscious, repeated practice to build awareness.
It’s a lifestyle change focusing on stepping out of the time clock.
Meditation and yoga are the primary examples of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). However, some little-known MBSR methods can effectively reduce stress as well.
17. Use Mental Affirmations
Researchers at UCLA observed that people encourage themselves through affirmations to cope with stressful situations more easily.
Notably, those mentally stating personal values responded with significantly lower cortisol levels to stressors (Creswell et al. 200516).
18. Start Meditation
A recent study at the University of Minnesota suggests that meditative and mindful practices positively impact biological stress system functioning.
Strongly stressed people can benefit from meditation for stress reduction, according to the research (Klimes-Dougan et al. 201917).
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 cancer patients’ sleep and overall life quality (Carlson et al. 200418).
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, I get up, brush 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 realize that meditation is not about suppressing thoughts. The results can be remarkable.
In conclusion, regular stress-reduction meditation can fundamentally change your relationship with thoughts and feelings to enhance overall mental well-being significantly.
19. Try Imagery Exercises
Stress management techniques using imaging solutions for relaxation and stress relief are a field related to meditation.
Hence, participants of guided imagery exercises practice replacing unpleasant mental images related to stress with more convenient thoughts.
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 et al. 200519).
20. Listen to Relaxing Music
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 et al. 200320).
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
A 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 reduced 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 et al. 201721).
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 rewire the relationship to stressors, and bypass 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.
I created a printable PDF list to help you reap stress management techniques’ benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How can I relax my mind?
Simple stress reduction techniques to relax your mind are meditation, running or extended walks, 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 in the brain. The brain can relieve stress if the body is less stressed.
What are the five stress management techniques?
Sleep, exercise, meditation, cutting caffeine, and yoga are five simple but effective stress management techniques.
What are some stress management techniques?
Little-known ways to cope with stress are socializing, getting more sleep, or cutting back on caffeine.
What are the 3 main strategies to manage stress?
Breathe deeply, exercise, and get enough sleep to manage stress effectively.
1Rigó, M., Dragano, N., Wahrendorf, M., Siegrist, J., & Lunau, T. (2021). Work stress on rise? Comparative analysis of trends in work stressors using the European working conditions survey. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 94(3), 459-474. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-020-01593-8
2Leproult, R., Copinschi, G., Buxton, O., & Van Cauter, E. (1997). Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep, 20(10), 865–870.
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12Cadzow, R. B., & Servoss, T. J. (2009). The association between perceived social support and health among patients at a free urban clinic. Journal of the National Medical Association, 101(3), 243–250. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0027-9684(15)30852-x
13Adams, R. E., Santo, J. B., & Bukowski, W. M. (2011). The presence of a best friend buffers the effects of negative experiences. Developmental psychology, 47(6), 1786–1791. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025401
14Toubro, S., Astrup, A., Breum, L., & Quaade, F. (1993). The acute and chronic effects of ephedrine/caffeine mixtures on energy expenditure and glucose metabolism in humans. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 17 Suppl 3, S73–S82.
15Becker, H. C. (2017). Influence of Stress Associated with Chronic Alcohol Exposure on Drinking. Neuropharmacology, 122, 115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2017.04.028
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18Carlson, L. E., Speca, M., Patel, K. D., & Goodey, E. (2004). 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, 29(4), 448–474. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0306-4530(03)00054-4
19Watanabe, E., Fukuda, S., & Shirakawa, T. (2005). Effects among healthy subjects of the duration of regularly practicing a guided imagery program. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 5, 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-5-21
20Khalfa, S., Bella, S. D., Roy, M., Peretz, I., & Lupien, S. J. (2003). Effects of relaxing music on salivary cortisol level after psychological stress. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 999, 374–376. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1284.045
21Pascoe, M. C., Thompson, D. R., & Ski, C. F. (2017). Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 86, 152–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.08.008
Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.
Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.
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