16 Quick stress relief techniques to build into your day

Stress is just a fact of life.

No matter how well we organize our lives, or how intentional we are with our thoughts and actions, stress still creeps in.

Most people would like to minimize stress where they can, and perhaps you have.

But nonetheless, stress still creeps in.

For whatever reason.

And it can be hard to know what will help, or even make time for the things that may help.

Which only adds to the stress.

But you don’t have to know what will work right away. 

And you don’t need to spend hours that you don’t have to help you manage the stress of your day.

Sometimes (possibly even much of the time), we only have small bites of time to snatch for ourselves throughout the day.

If that sounds like you, then consider these quick stress relief techniques you can sprinkle throughout your day. And revisit the ones that work best for you whenever you need them.

Woman meditating on floor of her bedroom

Meditate

If you’ve never tried meditation to relieve your stress before, then it may seem intimidating. But give it a chance and you’ll likely start to see the benefits.

And if you’re not sure where exactly to start, check out a guided meditation on YouTube or download and app such as Headspace (which offers a free trial, as well as free access to the app for educators, and a discounted membership for students). 

Pray or read religious text

If you are religious (or honestly, even if you’re not), many people find comfort in turning to pray when they’re stressed. Reaching for your Bible or other religious text that provides you with a sense of purpose and grounding may also give you that quick stress relief you need.

Step outside or open a window

This list is intended to be quick hitters that you can easily fit into your day. Maybe you don’t have time to go for a walk or spend a lot of time outdoors, but the fresh air has a way of rejuvenating the senses. Even a couple of minutes with the window open may be enough to give your brain a bit of a boost.

Move your body

Maybe you have a couple of minutes to work in a quick movement break.

Even if its just a walk around the block, a stretch on the floor, or a quick lap around your building – movement helps.

It boosts your endorphins, even in small intervals. And better yet, if you can build multiple movement times into your day, you’ll keep those fee-good endorphins coming back to help you regulate throughout the day. 

Enjoy the smell of something you love

Maybe you love the smell of flowers – plan to keep some in your home, or on your desk at work when you’re dealing with stressful periods. Stop and smell the roses (literally) whenever you need a quick little boost throughout your day.

Maybe there’s another smell you love – like your husband’s aftershave or your wife’s perfume. If you can, have it handy so you can recenter yourself on those long, stressful days.

Talk to a loved one

Call your mom, best friend, spouse.

Someone you can be honest with who won’t press you with questions if you don’t have the time or energy to address.

If you have someone you can call and just say, “hey! I’m just really stressed, would you be up for talking to me about nothing for 5 minutes so I can get back into a better headspace? I just want to hear a friendly voice,” its a quick stress relief technique you can build into your day that also strengthens your relationship. It tells the other person that they’re a safe place for you and that you value them.

Win-win!

Do something creative

Even if it’s just doodling mindlessly on the back of a receipt – unlock that creative side of your brain. Just doing something different, maybe even something you think is silly can benefit your mood and change your thinking pattern.

Instead of being stuck on your stressor, focus on moving your hand and creating something, even if its not the Mona Lisa.

The goal doesn’t have to be the creation of a masterpiece (although, if you’re artistically inclined, then a masterpiece is great too!) – it just has to help you shift your focus. 

Man drawing

Enjoy a healthy snack

Did you know the health of your gut can not only be impacted by your stress levels, but it can also effect the stress you experience? Most of us crave comfort food whenever we’re stressed, but depending on what (and how much of it) you’re eating, it may actually be contributing to your feelings of stress and anxiety.

So, if you find yourself a bit peckish, reach for a healthier option – your body and your stress levels may thank you!

Enjoy your favorite snack.

Yes, your favorite snack may not always been the best or healthiest option. But many of us associate our favorite snacks with feelings of comfort and security.

As long as you’re not leaning on unhealthy snacks as your only form of coping, they’re a perfectly reasonable option to work into your stress reliever techniques on occasion.

Get a hug from someone you love

Sometimes a big bear hug from someone we love is enough to put the wind back in our sails and help us continue to move through the day.

Not only will a hug from a loved one remind you that you have someone else in your corner and you’re not going it alone, physical touch also releases the “cuddle hormone.” And while not the scientific name (it’s really called oxytocin), it is aptly nicknamed, because a hug from someone you love releases oxytocin, which helps to release stress and can provide a feeling of happiness.

Neat, right?

Listen to music

Whether its a classical music ballad, something that makes you want to dance around your room or rock out, or even something angsty – listening to music you can connect to can boost your mood.

Try to find something that will lift your spirits (Christmas music in July? Go for it) and get you out of your stressed headspace and into a more positive mood – even if its just for one song. If you’re working, stop and just listen – or dance.

Whatever you do, take your moment to just enjoy the music. 

Enjoy the sunshine 

If its sunny outside, take a moment – even if you just open the window, and let the sun wash over you. It may sound silly to some, but the warmth of the sun is comforting to many, and is a source of Vitamin D, which can play a big role on your mood.

Organize your space

Maybe your space is the problem – its too overwhelming. But if your space has a manageable amount of clutter, try putting some of your things away and see what that does for your mindset. Sometimes just focusing on a new task and following it through can be enough to give your brain a boost and feel like something good was accomplished for the day.

Journal

Take a couple of minutes out of your day to journal– even if it is just a constant steam of your throughs. And you don’t need to make your thoughts positive or manipulate them.

Sometimes just jotting down what you’re thinking in a stream of conscious way actually makes your brain slow down (because you can’t write as fast as you can think).

This can be especially helpful if part of your stressor is that your brain just won’t slow down or turn off. 

Give your pet some attention

This goes back to the oxytocin – but petting your cat, dog, or other pet (though perhaps not a fish) can release those feel-good hormones for both you and your furry friend.

Drink a warm beverage

Caffeine can be a contributor to anxiety, so don’t mainline your drinks, but if you love a cozy cappuccino, an uninterrupted cup of coffee, or a warm mug of tea – take a drink and just sit and enjoy something you love.

Woman smelling coffee

You’ve got this

Stress sucks.

And it can be tough to find ways to manage it, especially when you’re day is swamped.

But if you can make time throughout your day for one or two of these items, you might find your stress levels a bit more manageable.

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