Stress Management Activities

Last Updated: April 17, 2024

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Stress management is a crucial skill to reduce stress, which can harm the mind and body if left untouched for too long. One can reap the benefits of stress reduction by finding right stress management activities for each individual.

Stress Management Activities Explained

Stress can feel like a common presence in daily life, influencing our experiences. Stress can significantly affect our physical and mental well-being, whether it's the pressure of meeting work deadlines, managing personal relationships, or coping with global uncertainties.

Fortunately, numerous activities and strategies can help us manage and mitigate stress effectively.

From the scientifically backed benefits of mindfulness meditation and progressive muscle relaxation to the simple joy of engaging in a creative hobby, explore a range of methods to help you find your antidote to manage stress.

The Importance of Reducing Stress

The impacts of both acute and chronic stress can be far-reaching. They touch every aspect of our lives, and they tend to accumulate over time, making things more challenging.

Not surprisingly, many of today’s common health concerns are closely intertwined with the stress we regularly encounter.

The Unexpected Effects of Stress

Stress often extends its reach into different parts of our lives–work, relationships, personal matters–and shapes how we approach our daily experiences

In the Workplace

In the workplace, employees face diverse stressors. Depending on the industry or job, individuals might experience significant stress levels due to the inherent demands of their work. An excess amount of stress and ineffective stress management can lead to many adverse effects in the workplace.

If the workplace is too stressful, tense, and demanding, employees might encounter the following negative effects:

  • Lowered productivity
  • Lowered employee morale
  • Higher absenteeism
  • Higher employee turnover
  • A lack of creativity and innovation

At Home

Beyond its impact in the workplace, stress can deeply affect our personal lives. In fact, wellbeing is at risk if one doesn’t take the time to address pent-up stress and anxiety.

When it comes to physical health, stress that builds up over time has been scientifically linked to the following conditions:

  • Excessive weight gain
  • Type II diabetes
  • Decreased immune functioning
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Digestive conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Accelerated aging
  • Chronic headaches and migraines
  • Substance abuse and addiction

The Stress Response

The stress response is how our body naturally reacts to a perceived threat. Imagine someone being chased for an unknown reason, the fight or flight response would be activated in response to this unknown danger.

This response involves a surge of a stress hormone such as cortisol that are ignited and course throughout our body in a situation like this.

These stress hormones put the body on high alert and prepare individuals physically and mentally to flee or fight.

Most stress in this day and age is not due to actual perceived threats or danger. These days, the major sources of stress are being late for work, forgetting to do an important school assignment, or getting a bad employee review at work.

These are certainly challenging situations, however, they aren't life-threatening. Because of this, they don't necessitate the fight or flight stress response. However, understanding that individuals perceive and respond to stress differently is vital. Past experiences, coping mechanisms, and individual resilience greatly influence how stressors are interpreted and managed.

Unfortunately, relatively minor situations elicit many individuals' fight-or-flight response. Our nervous systems simply go on autopilot to get some stress relief.

Imagine catching a glimpse of something that looks like a snake. Your body springs into action instantly - heart racing, muscles tensing, ready to react. Your brain’s fear center, the amygdala, triggers this response, alerting you to possible danger. Yet, as you look, you realize it’s just a toy snake.

At that moment, you might notice a shift within your body, where it relaxes like a false alarm getting cleared away. This illustrates how our body can react almost protectively, even when there might not be a real threat to our safety.

Over time, repeated activation of the fight-or-flight response can significantly affect our physical health. This reaction, aimed at keeping us safe, can strain the heart and impact the cardiovascular system. It may also contribute to digestive issues and other physical symptoms, gradually affecting our overall well-being.

Various factors, such as past experiences or trauma, shape our body’s reactions to perceived threats. When faced with mental or physical stress or symptoms stemming from an overactive nervous system–like the amygdala triggering the flight or fight response too frequently–finding ways to guide our bodies back to a more regulated state, like engaging the relaxation response, can become a powerful way of supporting our overall health and well-being.

The Relaxation Response

The relaxation response acts as a way to balance out the stress response. This physiological response can effectively reduce stress and counteract its negative effects. It accomplishes this by breathing exercises, relaxing muscles, and reducing blood pressure.

As we are all unique, finding ways to reduce stress will look different for everyone. Understanding coping skills that work best for you is the key to understanding how stress affects you daily.

Stress relief activities can involve various practices, including mindful breathing techniques, good sleep hygiene and sleep schedule, self care, among many other supportive methods. When we deepen our relaxation, stress naturally softens its grip.

Controlling Stress at Home

Easing stress isn’t just about managing thoughts and emotions; it involves actively addressing our well-being's mental and physical aspects. Here are five stress management techniques that could be used for managing stress at home.

One or several relaxation techniques can enhance physical and mental health. They empower us to approach stressful situations more effectively, nurturing greater resilience and self-efficacy.

Improve Your Sleep

Stress and lack of sleep can create a vicious cycle of negative physical and mental health effects.

Without enough sleep, stress can manifest the next day, and this can cause you to have trouble getting to sleep the following night.

Unfortunately, this cycle can continue almost endlessly. To curb it, measures can be taken to support your overall sleep quality.

Start with the following tips:

  • Try to make and stick to a regular sleep schedule
  • Limit caffeine intake to approximately eight hours before
  • Avoid screens or electronics before bed
  • Try reading in bed before going to sleep
  • Invest in a white noise machine.
  • Use chamomile or lavender essential oils in a mister or on the pillow at night as a stress reliever.
  • Try doing yoga or other light exercise in the evening before bed, such as belly breathing techniques.
  • Try a relaxing bedtime routine, like practicing Yoga Nidra for sleep or journalling to clear your mind.

Try not to worry if you miss a night here and there, as this happens to all of us. What counts is returning to your bedtime routine as soon as you can.

Cultivate a Balanced Diet

What we eat (or choose not to eat) can significantly impact our stress levels. In our busy lives, stress often leads us to skip meals or eat on the go, sometimes opting for meals lacking nutrients.

When our body lacks the nourishment it needs, not only may it perform suboptimally, but how our brain functions can be affected as well. Choosing food that we enjoy and that nourishes our bodies and minds is a crucial step in supporting our overall well-being.

Various colorful fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are key for managing stress.

Limiting highly processed foods can also contribute to a more stress-resilient lifestyle. Understanding the importance of hydration also contributes to maintaining a healthy body. We can support our well-being and become more resilient in stressful situations by embracing a mindful, healthy diet.

Another helpful approach to managing our diet is through practicing mindful eating and conscientious chewing techniques. Eating what feels right for an individual and following hunger cues is the best way to practice mindful eating. Also, chewing slowly and taking time with a meal, ensuring not to rush the digestion process, can help the body metabolize nutrients better.

Learning How to Meditate

Meditation can quieten the mind–a gentle pause that feels essential in today’s busy world.

From kids and seniors to students and C-level executives, it’s one of the best practices to reduce stress.

Not only does meditation cultivate deep breathing and focus regularly, but it can also help one find clarity and centredness during difficult and stressful times.

There are many types of meditation; it does not have to be done strictly in silence; it can be done in other forms, such as on a long walk, lying down, or even for a few minutes at any point during the day.

Practicing meditation as a beginner, even for 5 minutes a day, can make a big difference in one’s stress level and help when an individual is feeling overwhelmed.

Try Forest Bathing

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is a type of nature therapy that originated in Japan in the 1980s.

It usually occurs in a forest, as the name implies, under a canopy of trees. In true form, there may be a designated area for forest bathing, where paths meander in and out of trees, and the setting is decidedly peaceful and calming.

In such a place, individuals are meant to walk, breathe deeply, and enjoy their natural surroundings, a peaceful scene and atmosphere.

It’s not about doing anything particular. It’s simply about spending time outdoors. This practice gently guides your attention to the present moment while reconnecting you with nature.

According to a plethora of research, the positive effects of forest bathing are unmistakable: lowered blood pressure and heart rate and an increased sense of relaxation in those who participate in this activity.

Get Active

Regular physical activity is a powerful and effective way to combat stress's pervasive effects and elevate mood.

When we exercise, our body undergoes a positive transformation, both physically and chemically. This involves the release of mood-boosting endorphins and neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. This chemical shift can significantly impact our well-being, promoting a sense of positivity and relaxation.

One of the key benefits of physical activity in stress management is its ability to regulate and reduce the levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.

These hormones, when elevated for prolonged periods, can be detrimental to our health, contributing to a range of issues from insomnia to weakened immune responses.

Moreover, regular physical activity can help mitigate the physical effects of stress. Stress often manifests in the body through muscle tension, headaches, or fatigue.

The body can counteract these physical manifestations of stress through exercise, especially activities that involve stretching and muscle engagement, like yoga or pilates.

Physical exertion helps relax tense muscles and improve blood flow, essential in reducing the physical symptoms associated with stress.

Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine doesn’t necessarily mean engaging in intense workouts.

Even moderate forms of exercise, such as brisk walking, yoga, cycling, or swimming, can significantly reduce stress.

The key is consistency and finding a form of enjoyable physical activity, making it a sustainable and effective way to relieve stress.

Staying motivated at the start is natural, yet life’s unexpected turns or tough days can disrupt that flow. It is all part of the journey.

Remind your focus to the week ahead rather than giving up or feeling discouraged. Take a moment to plan what you aim to achieve, setting intentions with kindness toward yourself.

Managing Stress in the Workplace

Here are some stress management practices you could implement in the workplace.

Using one or several of these relaxation and breathing techniques could be huge in the office, both physically and mentally.

With practice and consistency, these techniques can even help ward off the impacts of chronic stress

Promote a Steady Work-Life Balance

We all have personal lives alongside our careers. We need to strive for a healthy work-life balance, understanding its positive impact on our overall well-being.

This means setting boundaries when work interferes with personal life obligations and allowing time for breaks and vacation time. For those working remotely, blurring boundaries between work and personal space can intensify stress, further underscoring the need to create clear boundaries for a healthier balance.

Consider setting aside specific work hours, creating a dedicated workspace, and integrating short breaks for movement or mindful moments. These simple yet impactful practices can make a big difference in reducing stress levels.

Identifying Early Signs of Burnout

Recognizing when stress is becoming unmanageable is important in keeping stress levels at bay and reducing the incidence of burnout.

Taking time off when necessary to practice stress-relieving activities can help promote a positive psychology at home and in the workplace and reduce anxiety that may arise.

Promote Workplace Wellness

These days, Gen Xers and Millennials seek employers who cultivate health and wellness as a core tenet of the workplace environment.

Implementing a workplace wellness program can help achieve this sort of environment.

This may mean yoga classes, encouraging outdoor time, and providing a mindfulness and meditation space within your office.

These activities can be suggested by employees and implemented by employers. These activities can help prevent or reduce the negative effects of stress on employees in the workplace mentioned previously.

Foster Nature Therapy

Nature has always been a healing presence. Spending time outdoors, especially in beautiful places like parks, forests, or beaches, can profoundly be calming.

Integrating nature therapy into your work life means spending more time outdoors, away from your usual workplace.

Workplaces with restful walking spaces with benches and picnic tables outside the building can promote lower stress and anxiety levels and positive mental health.

Events such as retreats and company outings outside in beautiful settings can also produce these same positive effects.

Another way to foster nature therapy is with walking meetings. Instead of holding meetings in cramped and dimly-lit meeting rooms, taking these outside can improve productivity and mental health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Stress Management

What are the best stress management practices for students?

Students are often particularly sleep-deprived, which can lead to excess stress. For this reason, it's important to pay attention to the amount of sleep you get and practice sleep hygiene if you have trouble sleeping regularly.

Other stress reduction ideas include limiting screen time, breathing exercises, meditation techniques, yoga, and pilates.

What are the best stress-reducing activities for seniors?

Meditation and mindfulness practice can be beneficial for seniors who struggle with stress. In addition, light yoga for seniors can be helpful here as well.

Finally, take time to socialize and spend time outdoors; senior citizens spend much of their time indoors, not socializing with others. Both of these things are extremely important for their health and wellness.

What are the best stress management activities for new moms?

Transitioning into motherhood is a profound journey, and the initial stages can be overwhelmingly demanding and full of change. If you can, try to lean on your partner, family, or friends for support–it is not about doing it all alone. Share responsibilities and ask for help when needed.

Also, try to prioritize yourself when a moment arises. It could be a calming bath, a few pages of a good book, or simply closing your eyes for rest. These small, relaxing moments aren’t just a luxury–they’re a lifeline. Remember, taking time for self-care isn’t selfish; it is essential to nurturing you and your little one.


Insomnia - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

(PDF) The effect of stress and satisfaction on productivity

Stress and the Gut

Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction - PMC

Using the relaxation response to reduce stress - Harvard Health

Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review - PMC

A Case Study from the Australian Mining Industry - PMC

Stanford study finds walking improves creativity

Does reading a book in bed make a difference in sleep compared to not reading a book in bed? The People’s Trial—an online, pragmatic, randomized trial - PMC


The contents of this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any health-related changes or if you have any questions or concerns about your health. Anahana is not liable for any errors, omissions, or consequences that may occur from using the information provided.