20 proven ways to wind down and relax

“Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life”
– Danzae Pace

Stress is an unfortunate reality of modern day life and many people struggle on a day to day basis to keep it under control.

Financial worries, relationship problems and looming deadlines all have the potential to ruin your day, but if you can find ways to balance out these negative elements with relaxing and fun activities then you may find that your stress levels can be vastly reduced.

In this article, we will look at 20 guaranteed stress relievers that can help you to unwind at the end of the day.

#1 - Breathing exercises

No matter where you are or what situation you are in, taking a moment to catch your breath and breathe deeply can be an instant way to relax your body and mind. When you are stressed your body will tense up and this can feed your overall frustration levels. Taking a moment to count to ten and focus on regular patterns of inhaling and exhaling can make a huge difference to your stress levels.

#2 - Yoga and meditation

Yoga has its roots in Indian traditions as far back as the fifth and sixth centuries BCE but its calming methods and techniques can still very much be applied in the modern age. Yoga is known to relieve health problems, reduce stress and improve mental wellness; it involves a variety of different strengthening exercises which focus on posture and breathing and which range from quite simple to very complex. Yoga is practiced widely by people of all ages and there are classes in most towns and cities across the UK.

#3 - Massages

Massages are proven to be an effective way of combating stress and improving your mood. There are various types of massages available and these include everything from your standard full body massage to hot stones and aromatherapy. Tests have shown that the hormone cortisol, which is partly responsible for stress, is actually reduced during many massage techniques. If you are interested in having a massage then you should ask friends, family and co-workers if they can recommend a good masseuse. If you are really in need of relaxation you could book into a Day Spa and make a full day of it, or even find a spa with a hotel attached and stay overnight.

#4 - Being organised

A large contributing factor to stress can be untidiness. This doesn’t just mean your home but also your general day to day planning. Organising through making to-do-lists and being proactive with your time can really help to make your day run more smoothly – thus reducing your stress levels.

#5 - Learn a new recipe

Some people find cooking to be very beneficial. The aromas, textures and sounds can therapeutic and chopping vegetables or beating dough can be an almost primal way of siphoning off some aggression.

#6 - Painting

Getting creative by painting or sketching is a fine way to get your emotions out. Rather than locking in your feelings and risking unloading them on unfortunate co-workers or family members, you can release your pent up feelings on paper with no negative repercussions.

#7 - Enjoy some music

There’s a reason that cars have stereos; that daily commute and routine traffic jam would be much more unpleasant without music to help manage your stress levels. Numerous studies have backed up the importance of music as a way of calming down, whether it’s simply listening to music in your car, learning an instrument such as the guitar or piano, or thrashing it out on a drum kit – music can be very therapeutic.

#8 - Drink some green tea

Studies show that stress levels among green tea drinkers are significantly reduced when compared with non-drinkers. There is even evidence to suggest green tea, which is packed full of antioxidants, may be beneficial in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and even some types of cancer.

#9 - Eat fruit

As tempting as it can be to reach for the ice cream when you’ve had a bad day, fruit is known to be much more effective than fatty foods at busting stress. Not only that but it is packed full of nutrients and can improve your general health. Berries, oranges and bananas in particular will do the trick.

#10 - Have a BBQ

Depending on how you handle being a host, arranging a BBQ with friends and family can be a nice way to shift the weight off your shoulders for an afternoon. Preparing tasty dishes, catching up with each other and enjoying the sun will be certain to put a smile on your face.

#11 - Visit friends and family

Strong relationships with friends and family are paramount to a healthy and happy existence, and checking in from time to time is a nice way to reconnect with your roots. Visit family and friends at their homes, go out for the day somewhere nice or even consider a longer break somewhere exotic or isolated to strengthen those bonds.

#12 – Experience wildlife

Whether it’s a walk around the local park, a fishing trip or a coastal excursion – the isolation and solitude of the outdoors can help to balance out the chaos and tension of the working week. A visit to a farm yard or even just a walk with the dog is also known to help release feel-good hormones and, according to some studies, can even lower your blood pressure.

#13 - Kick off your shoes

Kicking off your shoes at the end of the day and feeling the grass between your toes is a simple yet effective way to ease some tension and re-connect with nature for a moment.

#14 - Take a break

Human life is fragile and our bodies are only designed to cope with stress for small periods of time. If you want to avoid your hectic lifestyle taking its toll on your physical health then you should seek to have a break every now and then. Whether that means sticking to your daily lunch breaks or taking a month off to travel foreign lands, you need to give your body a rest from time to time.

#15 - Go for a run

Pressure can snowball if you allow it to and if you fail to give your body any chance to release that pent up emotion then you are in serious trouble. Running can help with many different aspects of mental health including depression and anxiety and will likely boost your self esteem once you begin to see the physical impact of regular exercise.

#16 - Join a gym

If you are ready to take your exercise plans one step further then joining a gym might be a stress solution. A regular routine and the chance to achieve your goals should help improve your physical and mental well-being and also help you think more clearly during your working day.

#17 - Take up a new sporting activity

If you’re not keen on the idea of solo exercise then a team sport might be more up your street. The feel good factor that you can get from working together as a team in a group sporting activity can help release positive chemicals in your brain as well as improving your teamwork skills which may well help you in other aspects of your life.

#18 - Read a book

In contrast to working up a sweat to balance yourself out, relaxing with a good book is also a proven method of stress reduction. The escapism of engrossing yourself in a fictional world, or the pleasure of learning a new skill is a sure fire way to lose your worries.

#19 - Achieve a healthy work / life balance

Managing your work / life balance is very important. Work related stress is responsible for as many as 10.4 million sick days every year. Making some simple adjustments to your day and setting boundaries, such as delegating work, leaving on time and identifying your priorities can help you strike a good balance.

#20 - Start a diary

Finally, when your life is chaotic it can be difficult to pinpoint where you need to make changes. Keeping a regular diary and making a note of particularly stressful points of your day can help you to pinpoint stress triggers and also reflect on particularly pleasurable moments of your day, helping you to make changes for the better.

Related articles: