You’re never too old to put on some good music and dance. If you are too embarrassed, well then close the blinds and lock the door and start jamming away! There should be no excuse to not at least attempting this. Play the air guitar, air drums, or be the star lead singer. If you really want to go a step further, take a dance class.
2. Play with a pet.
Whether you own a pet or not, petting or playing with a cat or dog (or any pet) can relieve stress. Pet interaction can also decrease loneliness, depression, and anxiety (Freidmann, 2010).
If you do not have a pet, then you can volunteer at a local shelter. Volunteering also makes you feel good about yourself because even small acts of kindness releases endorphins. “In a study of more than 2,000 Presbyterians published in a 2004 journal Psychosomatic Medicine, behavioral scientist Carolyn E. Schwartz and colleagues reported that improved mental health seemed to be more closely linked to giving help than to receiving it” (Maravelas, 2005).
3. Take a bath.
Remember how good it feels to sit in a hot tub? Well if you don’t own one or have access to one, taking a bath is a just as good, and also more sanitary. Taking a bath is not just for women, sure some guys may think they are too big to fit in a tub, but even if they are half way in, that’s better than nothing. Taking a bath relaxes muscles and eases the mind. When people are stressed they tend to tense up more, so take it easy in a bath tonight! Bubbles are optional, though I vote “Yes” on bubbles because the sound of the foam settling is quite soothing. Also, try a bath with candles and classical music.
4. Hug it out.
Just the simple gift of giving a good warm hug, or getting one, is enough to melt away some stress. If you have no one around to hug, hug a pillow and imagine the happiest warmest thoughts.
5. Paint, Doodle, or Color.
Even if you have no artistic talent whatsoever, it does not matter. Remember how fun it was when you were a child to just draw or paint without any care for whether it was good or not? Look at children today who are so happy when they are coloring in their coloring books. Try it out for yourself.
6. Make a collage.
Take a blank paper, piece of cardboard, or any object you desire and cut and paste all the things that make you happy onto this item. Hang it where you can see it often and take a picture of it and save it in your phone so when you start to feel stressed, you can look at all the things that make you happy.
7. Go on a nature walk, stop and smell the flowers or foliage, and take pictures.
The smell and feel of fresh air alone might be soothing enough, but take a moment to stop and smell the leaves, flowers, and just the air. You can take pictures to capture the beautiful moments so that later if you start to feel stress again, you can look back at the picture and remember your peaceful moment.
8. Enjoy the season.
Seasonal stress relieving techniques can depend on where you live. If you live where there’s snow, go sledding. The adrenaline of moving downhill at full speed can release endorphins. If it’s just cold out, stay in and enjoy a warm cup of tea and a comedy movie or some gentle music. If it’s summer or you live somewhere mostly warm, gardening is another technique that can relieve stress because you’re tending to something and caring for it. Also digging can be a way to get out anger. The best part of a garden is that you can eat what you grow, and healthy eating is a very important factor to stress reduction.
9. Surround yourself with positive people and laugh.
Laugh as much as you can, even if it’s at yourself. An old World War II veteran once told me, “If you’re not laughing at yourself once in a while, then you aren’t living life.” Instead of getting mad the next time you drop or spill something, or instead of getting mad at others for being in your way, find a way to laugh about it. Look for the positivity in any little thing and you’ll soon realize there is nothing really to be upset about because being upset will not change the situation.
10. Be thankful.
Living in gratitude and looking at everything you have to be thankful for can help reduce your stress when you think you don’t have enough, or you aren’t where you want to be. Write a thank you note to someone. Next time you feel stressed and want to call someone to complain, don’t, instead sit down and write a list of all that you are grateful for.
All of these ways to reduce stress can help raise the “happy hormone” oxytocin levels, and the best thing about each technique is that they are free and easy to do.
American Psychological Association, (2012). Impact of Stress. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from:
Friedmann, E., Son, H., Tsai, C. (2010). “The animal/human bond: health and wellness”. Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy. Edited by Aubrey H. Fine. 3rd Edition Elsevier Publishing Inc.
Maravelas, A. (2005). How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Stress: How Leaders and Their Employees Can Protect Their Sanity and Productivity From Tension and Turf Wars. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.