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30 Activities to Reduce Stress

We live in a fast-paced, quick moving and stressful world. At times, it’s hard to even find a moment of calmness. Stress impacts us physically and mentally. It impacts the ability to focus, to be more productive, it disturbs sleep, impacts relationships as well as overall happiness. Most of the time, it’s impossible to fully remove all the stress in our lives, so what else can we do? How can we plug in a relaxing activity that will offset and lower stress

Well, there are lots of fun ideas out there to help relieve stress, but first, let’s discuss how you begin such a routine.

Take the time: 

This is probably the most important step to learning to relax and reduce stress. It is most crucial because no matter how many relaxing ideas we come up with if you do not take the time to actually pause and take a break, it will never work. Set aside a reasonable amount of time that is needed and set up a plan for how you will accomplish this. We often feel we do not have enough time as it is. So find a few moments in your daily routine to engage in a fun and relaxing activity. For example, you may set a reminder on your phone to meditate or go for a walk or you may plan to play relaxing music in the car on your way home from work every day. It’s just important that you find the right thing that works for you and you set aside the time to actually follow through with the activity.

Relax your mind: 

Be in the present moment when you are engaging in the activity. This is key to actually relaxing. Many people may focus on the physical aspects of relaxation, which is also important, but if you are not relaxing your mind, then your body also cannot relax. Think of how strong the mind-body connection can be and how important it is to address both aspects of ourselves at one time. If you get a massage, which may feel wonderful physically, but you do not address the mental aspect of calming, then your mind stays in a state of stress; therefore, impacting your body. Engage in mindfulness and take a brief mental pause. Also, if you are not mentally engaged in the activity and you are staying in a stressed state of mind, then you will not experience the maximum benefit. The goal here is to relax your mind as best you can and stay focused in the present moment with the activity that you are engaged in. In order to relax the mind, slow yourself, calm your breathing, and focus on your current state.

Practice: 

Now is the important step of finding an activity that is actually helpful for you in both mind and body that will help you to relax. Try a variety of activities and practice! What one person does to relax, may not help the next person. It is important that you find the right activity for you. You may hate reading, so reading a book will not be a relaxing activity for you so while that may be helpful for many, it might not work for you. Start by making a list of activities that you think would be relaxing or that you have seen others do that helped them to relax. Try them! Take the time to test out some different activities to see if you find them relaxing. Be sure to find activities that will target both mind and body.

Here is a list of 30 fun activities that will help reduce stress:

1. Going for a walk or exercising

2. Taking a bath or shower

3. Practicing deep breathing

4. Reading a book, newspaper or magazine    

5. Practicing meditation or mindfulness

6. Listening to relaxing music

7. Getting a massage

8. Sewing, knitting, cross stitching 

9. Doing yoga

10. Petting your dog or cat

11. Horseback riding

12. Writing in a journal

13. Reading a book

14. Talking to a friend

15. Watching a movie

16. Playing a musical instrument

17. Arts and crafts

18. Gardening

19. Playing games

20. Practicing gratitude

21. Completing puzzles

22. Taking a nap

23. Having a spa night at home

24. Practicing positive self-talk

25. Engaging in a hobby

26. Drinking soothing tea

27. Getting a good night’s sleep

28. Reducing caffeine intake

29. Disconnecting from tech

30. Trying aromatherapy


Blog written by: Dr. Shelley Sommerfeldt, Clinical Psychologist, Relationship Coach & Founder of the Loving Roots Project, an online wellness practice specializing in personal growth, mental wellness, & relationship betterment.

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