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Relax: 20 Ways to Stress Less and Love Life

Reduce stress with a pet

Most of us experience stress in our daily lives. If you've ever wished that you knew how to stress less and get more out of life, this article is for you. Now take a deep breath... and read.

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How much time each day do you devote to stressing about something? Maybe it's a work assignment that's taking too long, a family member who's having health problems or a friend who seems to be avoiding you. Whether it's real or in your imagination, stress can cause your blood pressure to soar, your head to ache and your mental state to go from happy to depressed.

The good news: You can relieve that stress in a variety of ways, from spending time with a pet to heading outside for a brisk walk. Ready to stress less and start living more? Try these tips below:

  • 1. Massage yourself by pressing gently on the palm of one hand using a circular motion with the thumb of the other, says Maria
  • Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Readers Digest.
  • 2. Turn off the gadgets and be still. Quiet your mind and focus on breathing.
  • 3. Schedule time to have fun every day, advises Heart Healthy Living.
  • 4. Play and experience the joy of a child.
  • 5. Spend time with friends doing something you all enjoy.
  • 6. Under stress, you’re apt take quick, shallow breaths, which increases heart rate and sweating and raises your stress levels even more. “Get control of your breathing, and the spiraling effects of stress will automatically become less intense,” says Brent Bauer, M.D., director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic, and medical editor of the Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine.
  • 7. Take a class or join a club to do something different, advises the Australian National University Counseling Center.
  • 8. Exercise regularly and find an activity you enjoy, such as walking, biking or swimming.
  • 9. Get enough rest and sleep, and eat right, advises WebMD.
  • 10. Declutter your work space, says Yahoo Education.
  • 11. Do one project at a time rather than multitasking.
  • 12. A study at Duke University in Durham, NC, found homeopathy effective in quelling anxiety disorders, reports Readers Digest. Look for stress formulas such as Nerve Tonic (from Hyland) or Sedalia (from Boiron) in your health food store, or consult a licensed homeopath.
  • 13. Consider adopting a pet. "animals have healing powers. When you stroke a cat or pet a dog, you experience a surge of healing hormones and chemicals that produce feelings of peace and serenity," says Edward T. Creagan, M.D of the Mayo Clinic.
  • 14. There’s truth to the old adage, “The state of your bed is the state of your head,” says Dr. Mehmet Oz. Research shows that people who make their bed every morning tend to be more productive in general. Making the bed or cleaning up small messes, like the bills on your desk or the dishes in the sink, contributes to happiness because these acts represent “small wins” in the willpower department. In sum, good habits, both large and small, can make life easier, happier and more meaningful.
  • 15. Neurological studies show that people are hardwired to interpret and react emotionally to music. In other words, music can literally calm you and clear your head. Happy music that features a fast tempo and is written in a major key can cause immediate physical signs of happiness, such as a faster breathing. 26. 16. Follow a routine. "Researchers believe that we have evolved to experience calm by practicing repetitive behavior. Our daily habits and rituals serve as primary ways for us to manage stress. However, the fast-paced world we live in can feel quite unpredictable, which is why sometimes sticking with an old routine can be a good way to help maintain happiness," says Dr. Oz.
  • 17. Experience gratitude.
  • 18. Count your blessings and keep a gratitude book. (For more details on 14 through 18, see Dr. Oz's happiness site.)
  • 19. Drink herb tea, says Pina LoGiudice ND.
  • 20. Do something to help others. "When people help others through formal volunteering or generous actions, about half report feeling a 'helper's high,' and 13% even experience alleviation of aches and pains," says WebMD's experts

Note: If not otherwise noted, tips are from WebMD's stress management site.