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10 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people.

In fact, 70% of adults in the U.S. say they suffer from stress or anxiety every day.

Here are 10 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety.



1. Exercise


Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.

It may seem counterintuitive, but putting your body under physical stress through exercise can relieve mental stress.

The benefits are greatest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who do not.

There are a few reasons for this:

Stress hormones: In the long run, exercise reduces your body’s stress hormones; such as cortisol. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as a natural painkiller.

Sleep: Exercise can also improve the quality of sleep, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.

Confidence: When you exercise regularly, you can feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental well-being.

Try to find an exercise routine or activity that you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, mountain climbing or yoga.


2. Light a candle


Essential oils or lighting a scented candle can help reduce your feelings of stress or anxiety.

Some scents are especially calming. Here is a list of the most calming scents:

  • Lavender
  • Roses
  • Vetiver
  • Bergamot
  • Roman chamomile
  • orange flowers
  • incense
  • sandalwood
  • orange or orange blossom
  • Geranium

Using scents to treat your mood is called aromatherapy. Several studies show that aromatherapy can decrease anxiety and improve sleep.

3. Reduce your caffeine intake


Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses can increase anxiety.

People have different thresholds for the amount of caffeine they can tolerate.

If you find that caffeine makes you nervous or anxious, consider stopping its consumption.

Although many studies show that coffee can be healthy in moderation, this does not apply to everyone. In general, five or fewer cups a day is considered a moderate amount.


4. Chewing gum


For super-easy and quick stress relief, try chewing a stick of gum.

One study showed that people who chewed gum had a greater sense of well-being and less stress.

One explanation is that chewing gum causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people. Another is that chewing gum promotes blood flow to your brain.



5. Spend time with friends and family


The social support of friends and family can help you cope with stressful times.

Being part of a network of friends gives you a sense of belonging and self-esteem, which can help you through difficult times.

One study found that, for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural relaxant. This effect is called “caring and befriending” and is counter to the fight or flight response.

Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.


6. Laugh


It’s hard to feel anxious when you laugh. It’s good for your health and there are some ways it can help release stress:

  • It reduces your stress response.
  • It reduces tension by relaxing your muscles.

In the long run, laughter can also help improve your immune system and your mood.

One study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter group experienced greater stress reduction than those who were simply distracted.


7. Learn to avoid procrastination.


Another way to manage your stress is to get control of your priorities and stop procrastinating.

Procrastination can cause you to act reactively, which will cause you to flounder to get everything done. This can lead to stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality.

Get into the habit of preparing a to-do list, organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work on your list.

Work on the things you need to do today and do it in an uninterrupted manner. Switching from one task to another or doing many at once can be stressful as well.

8. Practice mindfulness


Mindfulness describes practices that fix you in the present moment.

It can help you combat the effects of anxiety-inducing negative thoughts.

There are several methods to increase your mindfulness, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga and meditation.

A recent study in college students suggested that mindfulness can help increase self-esteem, which in turn reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.


9. Physical affection


Caressing, kissing, hugging and sex can help relieve stress.

Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin and reduce cortisol. This would help lower blood pressure and heart rate, physical symptoms of stress.


10. Listen to relaxing music


Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.

Slow instrumental music can induce a relaxation response by helping to lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stress hormones.

Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly relaxing. However, simply listening to music you like is also effective.

The sounds of nature are also very soothing. For that reason these sounds are often incorporated into music for relaxation and meditation.



Although stress and anxiety can increase in your workplace and in your personal life, there are many simple ways to reduce the pressure you feel.

These tips often involve taking your thoughts away from the source of stress.

Exercise, mindfulness, music and physical intimacy can work together to relieve anxiety, thereby improving your overall work/life balance.



Dr. Mansi Shah

Functional Wellness Network

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