20 Scientifically Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now (2022)

What's your stress "tell?" For some, a quickened heart rate or a slight feeling of queasiness is enough to let them know they're getting anxious or overwhelmed. But just as a slight from your boss or bad news from a family member can get your stress hormones pumping and your blood pressure rising quickly, you have the power to reset almost instantly.

20 Scientifically Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now (1)Jamie Grill via Getty Images

When we're stressed, hormones like cortisol flood our systems, producing the "fight or flight response" in which our heart rate goes up, we breathe more heavily (requiring more oxygen) and our blood vessels constrict. While in the pre-civilization world, the increased blood flow to our heart and muscles helped us escape from predators and dangerous situations, we find ourselves in a very different position now. Our bodies can't tell the difference between an approaching grizzly bear and a ticked off spouse or a particularly epic traffic jam, so our stress response is triggered when there's no imminent danger. Instead of helping us to escape, this can contribute to chronic conditions like hypertension and headaches, as well as mental health concerns like depression and anxiety disorders. What's more, stress can make other conditions -- like asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and insomnia -- worse.

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The good news? Just as we have a stress response, we also have a "relaxation response," during which your breathing slows, your blood pressure decreases and you even use less oxygen, reports the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

We don't really have a choice when it comes to getting stressed -- we may as well work to undo its effects. With that in mind, here are 20 ways, backed up by good scientific evidence, to keep your stress in check:

Go For A 10 Minute Walk
20 Scientifically Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now (2)
While just about any walk will help to clear your head and boost endorphins (which, in turn, reduces stress hormones), consider walking in a park or other green space, which can actually put your body into a state of meditation, thanks to a phenomenon known as “involuntary attention” during which something holds our attention, but simultaneously allows for reflection.

Breathe Deeply
Any yogi knows that the breath -- known as pranayama or “life force” -- plays an important role in nourishing the body. And medical researchers agree.

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“Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed,” explains WebMD.

(Video) 17 Science-Backed Ways to Relieve Stress Right Now!

Breathing exercises -- or even just taking a few deep breaths -- can help reduce tension and relieve stress, thanks to an extra boost of oxygen. While shallow breathing -- a marker of stress -- stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, reported NPR, deep breathing does the opposite: It stimulates the parasympathetic reaction, which helps us to calm down.

What’s more, breathing exercises have been proven in clinical research to aid some of the systems that are harmed by stress: They can reduce blood pressure and may even be able to change the expression of some genes, according to Harvard researcher Herbert Benson.

Visualize
A short visualization is an easy way to get back to center. Even the National Institutes for Health recognizes the power of “guided imagery” to elicit a relaxation response.

Simply make yourself comfortable (at your desk, in an empty conference room -- wherever!) and then try to picture a peaceful scene: a future vacation, your favorite beach. You can even visualize yourself accomplishing a future goal or, as Women’s Health magazine puts it, “picture yourself in an elevator, happily sandwiched between two hot actors of your choice.”

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Eat A Snack (Mindfully!)
Stress-eating doesn’t have to be bad.

"The connection between the gut and brain is huge -- called the 'gut-brain axis' -- and lots of interesting data supports the idea that the gut is a major mediator of the stress response,” Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and the author of The Happiness Diet told The Huffington Post earlier this year. “After all, stress is a brain and immune system mediated phenomena, and your gut is the largest organ in your immune system."

Pick a snack that will fill you up -- say, half an avocado, a handful of nuts or a hard boiled egg -- because nothing is more stressful to the brain, Ramsey explains, than feeling like you’ve run out of nourishment. Take your snack away from your computer and go sit someplace peaceful. Focus on your food: its texture, the way it tastes, how it makes you feel. Now you’ve turned your snack into a meditation.

Buy Yourself A Plant
20 Scientifically Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now (3)
Houseplants aren’t just beautiful air purifiers -- they can actually help you calm down. Researchers have found that simply being around plants can induce your relaxation response. One Washington State University study found that a group of stressed-out people who entered a room full of plants had a four-point drop in their blood pressure, while a comparison group who didn’t see plants dropped only two points, Prevention magazine reported.

Need some advice on what to buy? Here’s a guide to houseplants that de-stress your home (or office!)

(Video) How to reduce stress with the 2:1 breathing technique

Step Away From The Screen
Uninterrupted computer use has been associated with stress, lost sleep and depression in women, according to a study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In the same study, late night computer use was also associated with stress -- in both men and women.

Make sure to take frequent breaks during your day of computer use -- and try to shut offline at least an hour before bedtime.

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Pucker Up

Kissing relieves stress by helping your brain to release endorphins, reports WebMD. And that has real-life implications: In a study of 2,000 couples, Northwestern University researcher Laura Berman, Ph.D., found that those who only kissed when they had sex were eight times more likely to report feeling chronically stressed or depressed.

Try This Naam Yoga Hand Trick
20 Scientifically Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now (4)
Applying pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle (the joints at the base of your pointer and middle fingers) can help to create a sense of instant calm, according to Sharon Melnick, author of Success Under Stress.

"It activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart, so any of that fluttery feeling you feel when you're nervous will end up going away," Melnick told Business Insider.

Hang Up, Then Turn Off Your Phone
Cell phones stress you out, there’s no question about that. Talking can even raise your blood pressure.

Put On Some Music
While classical music has a particularly soothing effect -- it slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure and even decreases levels of stress hormones -- any music that you love will flood your brain with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine.

(Video) How to protect your brain from stress | Niki Korteweg | TEDxAmsterdamWomen

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And while music can soothe everyday anxiety (crank it up on the drive home!), research shows that it’s particularly beneficial for those in the midst of stressful events, like surgery.

Don’t have your headphones handy? Try humming or making your own music. One study of stressed-out nursing students found that recreational music-making relieved stress and prevented burnout.

Treat Yourself! Eat One (ONE!) Candy
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Eating or drinking something sweet is soothing because it stems the production of the stress hormone, glucocorticoid (which helps explain why we find ourselves staring down the barrel of an empty cookie package when things go haywire). While not an excuse to unleash your emotional eating on the office vending machine, a Hershey’s Kiss, peppermint candy or other reasonably-sized treat, can help.

Or, On The Other Hand, Plug In
Yes, screens can stress you out. But used in the right way, there’s no reason you can’t turn to the Internet to get a little stress relief. A Cleveland Clinic study found that web-based stress management programs, like guided meditation, decreased stress levels and boosted scores emotional well-being in a group of 300 healthy adults, Healthy Living’s Amanda L. Chan reported.

Chew A Piece Of Gum
20 Scientifically Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now (6)
Chewing gum doesn’t just make your breath better -- it can relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress during episodes of multitasking, according to a 2008 study.

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Watch A Viral Video
A good laugh is a fine relaxation technique. “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain,” explains the Mayo Clinic.

Counterintuitively, laughter first activates your stress response and then deactivates it, creating a kind of “rollercoaster” that leads to a feeling of relaxation.

(Video) Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR): A Science Supported Tool for De-Stress and Relaxation

What’s more, even if you don’t find the viral video your uncle Joe sent you to be that funny, just the anticipation that it might be will actually boost endorphins.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Start with your toes and work your way up: tighten your foot muscles as much as you can, then relax them. Make your way up, tightening and relaxing each muscle until you’ve finished with your face. It may seem silly, but this practice can help reduce anxiety and stress and is often recommended to patients who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders.

Seriously, Turn Off Your Phone
Smartphones, in particular, are linked to increased stress, as more and more people feel pressure to respond to messages at all times.

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See Your BFF
Friends aren’t just fun -- your very closest ones can actually reduce your production of cortisol, according to a study in middle school aged children. We think the same holds true for adult besties. And psychologists agree.

Eat A Banana (Or A Potato!)
Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure, which rises during times of stress. Some people find that eating a banana when they’re feeling stressed can help improve energy and recovery. And research shows that it can protect your body from the negative effects of stress, like increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The American Psychological Association recommends it to stave off the physical detriments of stress as well.

Try Eagle Pose
Many yoga poses are known stress relievers, as they open the shoulders, relieve neck tension and do away with many of the physical symptoms of stress.

Eagle pose is a prime example of how a brief asana can target back and neck tension. Learn how to do the pose here.

Craft
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Repetitive motions -- like the fine motor skills used to knit, make jewelry or cross-stitch -- can soothe anxiety, according to avid knitter and pediatrician, Perri Klass, M.D. Mindfulness expert Dr. Herbert Benson agrees: Knitting fulfills the two criteria of mindfulness practice, as he sees it: "the repetition of a sound, word, phrase prayer, or movement, and the passive setting aside of intruding thoughts and returning to the repetition."

(Video) 20 Minute Guided Meditation for Reducing Anxiety and Stress--Clear the Clutter to Calm Down

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FAQs

What is scientifically proven to reduce stress? ›

Physical activity can pump up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. Exercise can also refocus your mind on your body's movements, which can improve your mood and help the day's irritations fade away.

What are 10 stress reducing techniques? ›

What you can do to address stress
  • Be active. ...
  • Take control. ...
  • Connect with people. ...
  • Have some "me time" ...
  • Challenge yourself. ...
  • Avoid unhealthy habits. ...
  • Help other people. ...
  • Work smarter, not harder.

What are 15 ways to reduce stress? ›

15 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
  • Exercise. You don't need a gym to exercise. ...
  • Go outside. Connect with nature in your backyard. ...
  • Aromatherapy. Pull out those old scented candles and inhale a calming scent. ...
  • Journal. ...
  • Listen to calming music. ...
  • Sing. ...
  • Laugh. ...
  • Connect.
2 Apr 2020

What are 12 ways to manage stress? ›

12 Ways To Eliminate Stress At Work
  • Act Rather Than React. "We experience stress when we feel that situations are out of our control," says Melnick. ...
  • Take A Deep Breath. ...
  • Eliminate Interruptions. ...
  • Schedule Your Day For Energy And Focus. ...
  • Eat Right And Sleep Well. ...
  • Change Your Story. ...
  • Cool Down Quickly. ...
  • Identify Self-Imposed Stress.
20 Mar 2013

What reduces stress immediately? ›

Meditate

There's evidence that just two quick bouts of silent meditation per day can relieve stress and depression. Find a comfortable spot in a quiet place, focus on your breath, and feel those anxieties start to disappear.

How do you beat stress 13 scientifically proven? ›

How to beat stress: 13 scientifically proved ways
  1. Chew gum for ten minutes. ...
  2. Change your facial expression — and smile. ...
  3. Force a yawn. ...
  4. Look at photos of nature. ...
  5. Use positive words. ...
  6. Smell your partner's clothes. ...
  7. Clap your hands for ten seconds. ...
  8. Hold a mug of warm tea in your hands.
12 Feb 2022

How do you calm down scientifically? ›

So, if you are looking for some helpful tips and strategies to relax, then these tips can make you calm down in less than 15 minutes.
  1. Meditate. ...
  2. Breathe deeply. ...
  3. Practice mindfulness. ...
  4. Scan your body. ...
  5. Listen to music. ...
  6. Try hydrotherapy. ...
  7. Get some sun. ...
  8. Take a quick walk.
11 Feb 2022

What are 5 stress relievers? ›

5 tips to manage stress
  • Use guided meditation. Guided meditation is a great way to distract yourself from the stress of day-to-day life. ...
  • Practice deep breathing. ...
  • Maintain physical exercise and good nutrition. ...
  • Manage social media time. ...
  • Connect with others.
10 Dec 2018

What are the 4 mental stress relief techniques? ›

Fortunately, there are 4 steps to help reduce stress and cope with the inevitable stressors of everyday life:
  • Avoid. Believe it or not, it is possible to escape some of the minor stressors that tend to trouble people: ...
  • Alter. Communicate clearly and let people know your expectations. ...
  • Accept. ...
  • Adapt.
8 Mar 2021

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

What are 6 ways to manage stress? ›

Ways to Reduce Stress
  1. Take Short Breaks. If your work environment or your home life is the cause of your stress, take breaks. ...
  2. Exercise Regularly. ...
  3. Get Enough Sleep. ...
  4. Eat Healthy. ...
  5. Make Time for Yourself. ...
  6. Don't Be Afraid to Seek Medical Care.
10 Jul 2014

What are the 8 ways to overcome stress? ›

10 Tips to Manage Stress
  • 1.Exercise.
  • 2.Relax Your Muscles.
  • 3.Deep Breathing.
  • 4.Eat Well.
  • 5.Slow Down.
  • 6.Take a Break.
  • 7.Make Time for Hobbies.
  • 8.Talk About Your Problems.
29 Apr 2021

What are the 3 keys to managing stress? ›

This article presents the three most important keys to managing stress, sleep, weekly “recharge” time and daily breaks.

How do I get rid of chronic stress? ›

How is chronic stress treated?
  1. Exercising.
  2. Eating healthy foods.
  3. Learning time management techniques.
  4. Setting realistic goals.
  5. Getting more sleep.
  6. Making time for leisure activities.
  7. Building stress reduction skills.
  8. Learning and practicing mindfulness (learning to control attention)

Does crying relieve stress? ›

Many people associate crying with feeling sad and making them feel worse, but in reality, crying can help improve your mood - emotional tears release stress hormones. Your stress level lowers when you cry, which can help you sleep better and strengthen your immune system.

How can I reduce stress in 60 seconds? ›

How To Reduce Stress In 60 Seconds
  1. Breathe. One of the most well-known ways to reduce stress is by consciously breathing, taking time out to simply sit with your feelings taking deep breaths in and out until the stress subsides. ...
  2. Get Into Your Body. ...
  3. Affirmations. ...
  4. Aromatherapy. ...
  5. Express Yourself. ...
  6. Take A Time Out.

Can stress be cured permanently? ›

There's no quick-fix cure for stress, and no single method will work for everyone. However, there are simple things you can do to change the common life problems that can cause stress or make stress a problem. These include relaxation techniques, exercise and talking the issues through.

How do I release stress in 2 minutes? ›

8 Ways to Relieve Stress in 2 Minutes or Less
  1. Take a meditative moment. ...
  2. Try a breathing exercise. ...
  3. Connect with someone. ...
  4. Try progressive muscle relaxation. ...
  5. Focus on your immediate surroundings. ...
  6. Find something funny. ...
  7. Play a mental game.
3 Nov 2020

What to drink to calm nerves? ›

7 Everyday Tonics that Help Your Body Adjust to Stress and Anxiety
  • Ginger.
  • Maca.
  • Matcha.
  • Reishi.
  • Apple cider vinegar.
  • Turmeric.
  • Ashwagandha.

How can I relax my mind in 5 minutes? ›

Next, we'll give you 20 tips to relax in less than 5 minutes.
  1. Talk to a Friend. In a stressful moment, a quick chat with a friend can work miracles! ...
  2. Meditate. ...
  3. Eat chocolate. ...
  4. Have a cup of tea. ...
  5. Close your eyes and listen. ...
  6. Get a massage. ...
  7. Squeeze a stress ball. ...
  8. Pet a cat or play with a dog.
11 Mar 2019

What is the 5 second rule for anxiety? ›

Mel Robbins explains the rule as, “The 5 Second Rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. The moment you feel an instinct or a desire to act on a goal or a commitment, use the Rule.

What is the 54321 technique? ›

The 5 senses grounding technique, often referred to as the 54321 method or 54321 anxiety trick is a tool that helps relieve anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. The 54321 method can be used as a practical way to calm anxiety by isolating each of your senses through observation.

What are the 5 levels of anxiety? ›

The five major types of anxiety disorders are:
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder. ...
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ...
  • Panic Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

What are 8 ways to reduce stress? ›

10 Tips to Manage Stress
  • 1.Exercise.
  • 2.Relax Your Muscles.
  • 3.Deep Breathing.
  • 4.Eat Well.
  • 5.Slow Down.
  • 6.Take a Break.
  • 7.Make Time for Hobbies.
  • 8.Talk About Your Problems.
29 Apr 2021

What are 5 ways to relieve stress? ›

5 tips to manage stress
  1. Use guided meditation. Guided meditation is a great way to distract yourself from the stress of day-to-day life. ...
  2. Practice deep breathing. ...
  3. Maintain physical exercise and good nutrition. ...
  4. Manage social media time. ...
  5. Connect with others.
10 Dec 2018

What are 6 ways to reduce stress? ›

6 ways to help manage daily stress more effectively:
  • Talk, Talk, Talk! Turn to family and friends, or even a trained therapist, to discuss things in your life that are causing stress. ...
  • Exercise Regularly. ...
  • Engage in Meditation. ...
  • Healthy Diet. ...
  • Stay Organized. ...
  • Practice Positive Self-talk.

What are your top 3 ways to relieve stress? ›

Here are some stress relievers:

Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit. Go for a walk, even if it's just to the restroom and back. It can give you a chance to think things through. Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some perspective.

How can I instantly calm my mind? ›

Relaxing and calming exercises
  1. Take a break. Focus on your breathing. Listen to music.
  2. Spend some time in nature. Try active relaxation. Think of somewhere else.
  3. Try guided meditation. Get creative.

Videos

1. Headspace | Mini Meditation | Let Go of Stress
(Headspace)
2. Deep Relaxation Hypnosis for Stress Relief, Anxiety Relief, and Instant Calm (Science-Based)
(Panic Free TV)
3. How stress affects your body - Sharon Horesh Bergquist
(TED-Ed)
4. What Happens To Your Body After You Die? | Human Biology | The Dr Binocs Show | Peekaboo Kidz
(Peekaboo Kidz)
5. Box breathing relaxation technique: how to calm feelings of stress or anxiety
(Sunnybrook Hospital)
6. How to Treat ADHD [Without Medication]
(Psych Hub)

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