Relieve Stress: 10 Proven Methods Backed by Science

Stress is an inevitable part of life that can seriously impact your health and well-being if left unchecked.

Learning to relieve stress effectively is crucial for physical and mental health. The good news is that research has uncovered many science-backed techniques for reducing and managing stress.

This article explores 10 proven methods you can apply today to control stress and feel better.

Symptoms of Stress: Don’t Miss These Early Warning Signs Your Body Sends

1. Enhancing Your Physical Activity for Stress Reduction

One of the most effective ways to relieve stress is through regular exercise.

Physical activity helps burn off the stress hormone cortisol and release endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain that improve mood. Aim to exercise moderately, like brisk walking, swimming, cycling, or cardio workouts, for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.

This raises your heart rate, providing anti-stress benefits. Resistance training like weights or callisthenics can also help relieve stress by building muscle and improving confidence.

2. Embracing Mind and Body Relaxation Techniques

Activities that calm and centre the mind and body have been scientifically proven to relieve stress. These include deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Try setting aside 10-15 minutes daily for such relaxation techniques. They reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, making you more balanced and parasympathetic. Many apps, online videos, and in-person classes can guide you through implementing these practices.

3. Balanced Nutrition Help Relieve Stress

What you eat affects your stress levels and mood.

Stress depletes important nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.

Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts and seeds. These foods provide antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre, and healthy fats that reduce inflammation and support resilience against stress.

Limit heavily processed foods, excess alcohol and added sugars, which can negatively impact mood and energy levels.

4. Quality Sleep is Critical for Stress Management

Sleeping 7-9 hours of quality sleep is vital for stress management.

Chronic insufficient sleep increases the stress hormone cortisol and raises inflammation. Prioritize winding down and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine. Calming activities before bed, like reading, gentle music, or light stretches, promote restful sleep. 

These activities allow the body to repair itself and reset stress-related hormones.

5. Strong Social Support is Vital

Humans are wired to connect.

Spending quality time with close family members, friends, or peers provides social support that can help relieve stress. Share your feelings and challenges instead of isolating yourself. Stay active in your social circles through shared activities you enjoy.

Strong social ties are linked to lower cortisol levels, reduced anxiety, and greater resilience in stressful situations.

6. Professional Guidance Helpful for Stress Management

If self-care strategies are not providing sufficient stress relief, consider seeing a doctor or mental health professional.

Psychologists, counsellors, and psychiatrists are trained to equip people with healthy stress management tools tailored to their needs. They can assess whether prescription medications, therapy, or counselling may be beneficial.

7. Understand Your Stress Triggers

Keep a daily journal to help identify your unique stress triggers.

Common triggers include work demands, financial issues, relationship conflicts, family obligations, health problems, or external events out of one’s control.

But stressors are individual. Once you are aware of your specific triggers, you can minimize or control them.

8. Setting Healthy Boundaries to Mitigate Stress is Vital

Don’t overwhelm yourself. Learn to set limits and say “no” to extra demands on your time and energy that induce stress.

Build breaks during your workday and set boundaries with other people. Offload obligations that you can.

Manage your calendar proactively so you aren’t overcommitted. Extending yourself too thin only exacerbates stress.

9. Finding Relief in Creative Activities

Activities like art, music, writing, dance, or even gardening can allow you to express yourself creatively while providing an outlet for stress.

Find a hobby that you enjoy and make time for it. Creative outlets often induce ‘flow states’ where you become immersed in the moment, distracting you from stressful thoughts.

10. Fostering a Mindset of Gratitude for Stress Relief

Taking time regularly to reflect on what you are grateful for has been scientifically shown to relieve stress and improve mood.

Keep a gratitude journal and jot down a few things you are thankful for daily. Gratitude redirects your mind away from stressors to appreciate the positive aspects of your life.

The Bottom Line

Untamed stress can wreak havoc on health and quality of life.

The good news is that by learning your stress response and triggers and applying proven stress relief techniques, you can better manage stress for improved well-being.

Be patient and persistent in practising healthy stress habits, as change does not happen overnight. But gradually, you will master stress, empowering you to live a calmer, more resilient life.

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