How to reduce stress is one of the most critical issues of our generation. The national relaxation day was created by a 9-year-old boy from Michigan in 1985 because he believed “people don’t think enough about relaxing; they think too much about working.”
Interestingly, in a recent study:
- 57% of Americans have been paralyzed by stress
- One-third visited a doctor about something stress-related
- 65% of women and 49 % of men said they put their needs last even when stressed
We don’t seem to have evolved much since 1985, so it’s good to have a day to remind us that it's essential to have time "off;" it is scientifically proven that it makes you more productive, reduces anxiety, supports better sleep, enriches relationships and elevates your mood.
Learning how to reduce stress may help you live longer and better, so we put together a list of 25 ways of researched-backed ways to do just that, even if you’re short on time!
25 Ways to Reduce Stress Today
Change Your Mood in Five Minutes or Less
#1 The One-Minute Deep Breath Exercise
Slow breathing from your belly (diaphragm) signals your brain that it’s OK to relax. Take a slow deep breath counting up to four, then hold for two, exhale counting up to four. Repeat for one minute.
#2 Guided One Moment Meditation
How to reduce stress in one moment? If the breath count is a little confusing or frustrating for you, try this guided one-moment meditation which will make it easier for you.
#3 Fake Laugh for Real
Fake laugh for one to three minutes and watch yourself laugh for real at your own silliness. Studies show that smiling and laughing trick your brain into a better mood.
#4 Dance it Out
#5 Try The Crocodile Breath
It feels super silly, but it’s remarkably effective. Lie on your stomach, rest your head on your arms and take deep breaths from your belly, just do that for 1-5 minutes. Here’s a video.
Enlist The Help of Your Hormones
#6 Activate Serotonin With Movement
A 20-minute walk, a quick yoga session, shooting some hoops, going for a run - your choice! Physical activity stimulates serotonin, one of the “happiness hormones” and reduces stress.
#7 Reduce Cortisol with Rest
Cortisol and sleep are deeply connected; they balance each other out. Learn how to reduce stress with sleep and self-care. Create a distraction-free routine to go to bed: no phone, no screens, regular sleep and wake schedules, and you’ll see how much better you feel.
#8 Get Endorphins from a Comedy Special
Laughter is the best medicine! Whether you treat yourself to a show, watch a classic on YouTube, or play one on Netflix, laughing for an hour will help you release endorphins.
#9 Volunteer and Get Some Oxytocin
That feeling you get from hugging a loved one or caressing a pet is oxytocin. How to reduce stress with the “happy” bonding hormone? Acts of service; you get out of your own head and feel closer to others when you help.
#10 Use Gratitude to Stimulate Dopamine
The “reward” hormone makes you feel good for something you have or accomplish. How to reduce stress with gratitude? List things to be thankful for, try adding the why. Also, name some sources of calm, safety, or relief in your life (the laundry machine could be one!)
Try Alternative Therapy
#11 Permission to Take a Bubble Bath
#12 Try EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
#13 Take a Leaf Out of the CBT Handbook
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is usually done by a licensed therapist; however, you can try the ABC technique. Which makes you poke holes at the worst-case scenario and find ways to calm yourself by proving it’s not that bad.
#14 Join a Tai-Chi Class
Research shows that this ancient martial arts practice reduces anxiety as effectively as exercise, but requires no stretching, no high-intensity motion, and hardly any sweating.
#15 Consider Wearable Lavender Aromatherapy
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
#16 Go Eat Some Spicy Foods!
If you’re wondering how to reduce stress with food, the answer is in the spices. One of the benefits of turmeric, for example, is serotonin regulation. Curry anyone? Try Indian or Thai.
#17 Drink Tea for the Soul (and Nervous System)
Black tea soothes away stress according to some studies. But even better? Infusions with anti-stress adaptogens, plant-based sources of nutrients that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and help regulate cortisol levels, among others.
#18 Eat Dark Chocolate (70% Cacao or more)
We know that chocolate makes you happy, but a 2018 study found that 48 grams of dark chocolate with 70% cacao -or more- could improve neuroplasticity and improve your mood.
#19 Add Reishi Mushroom Powder to Your Coffee
Reishi mushroom powder can be found at your local health food store, and it can be a great addition to your caffeine fix of choice to help you relax and combat the side effects of coffee.
#20 Switch Coffee for Matcha Green Tea
Your go-to cup of Joe may be making you feel even more stressed and jittery. Matcha green tea has L-theanine a compound that reduces the body’s physiological response to stress. We’ve added it to our Organifi Green Juice.
Think Outside the Box
Meditation, aromatherapy and bubble baths are reasonably well-known. How to reduce stress when that’s not working? Try these:
#21 Blow Your Thumb
Put your thumb on the roof of the mouth, create a seal around the thumb and blow hard, without letting any air out. This stimulates your vagus nerve and reduces blood pressure almost instantly as it raises abdominal and thoracic pressure inside your body.
#22 Book a Fun Class for Something New!
Paint night, twerking, and salsa have something in common: they make you feel uncomfortable and require concentration. Trying it will get your mind off the issue with fun!
#23 Massage Your Earlobes
How to reduce stress in ten minutes: massage your earlobes from the inside out to release tension. This great video by licensed massage therapist Rachel Richards will show you how.
#24 Tidy Up like Marie Kondo
You may not be in any mood to organize and clean, but this may be a great time to do it. How to release stress cleaning? By appreciating your possessions as you organize them.
#25 Take a Vacation from Life
Go to a movie wearing something utterly uncharacteristic for you, cook a new fancy meal, reward yourself for the smallest things, and feel good about it! The change of pace, clothes, and activities will help your brain snap out of repetitive thinking into the present.
How to Reduce Stress: The Takeaways
National relaxation day is part of the National Wellness Month, an organized effort to try to help us live better. It’s not enough to learn how to reduce stress with quick hacks, we must implement them on a regular basis to keep both our bodies and our minds healthy and sharp.
We’re still thinking too much about work, school, chores and problems, but not enough about the things we ought to be grateful for. We encourage you to try our 31-day health challenge to help you manage anxiety, reboot health habits, find ways to feel good every day and of course, learn how to reduce stress effectively in the long run.
Try Our Stress Relief Drinks:
Get support when you need it! Organifi Gold combines adaptogen mushrooms with the benefits of turmeric!
This superfood mix combines the best of this list: the benefits of turmeric, adaptogen mushrooms and herbs, L-Theanine, antioxidants, and other stress-management superfoods, with powerfully relaxing and rejuvenating mind-food.
We include three meditation tracks along with actionable advice to help you on your efforts to put yourself first, or at least at the top of the line. What do you say? Are you ready to make a change and cut ties with stress?
We sure are! Increased cortisol levels lead to adrenal fatigue, poor immunity, and faster aging. Yikes!
We hope this list helps you calm down a bit. Let us know if you tried blowing on your thumb; we’re in this together.