What are stress relievers? 10 effective stress relievers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

While motivation and hard work might help you improve your productivity at work, it's not always simple to maintain it. If you've been experiencing stress, you may want to know what you can do to cope. There are various methods that you can use to reduce stress and determine what works best for you. In this article, we provide an answer to, 'What are stress relievers?', discuss workplace stress and share useful tips to relieve stress.

What are stress relievers?

The answer to 'What are stress relievers?' is practices and strategies that can help you manage stress and regain the sense of self that keeps you motivated and productive in and out of work. They may include regular practices and rituals, such as self-care, exercise, pursuing hobbies or keeping a journal. Finding healthy ways to reduce stress can make a positive difference in your life and eliminate any other ineffective or even unhealthy solutions.

What is workplace stress?

The term 'workplace stress' refers to the physical or emotional reactions that arise as a result of different variables or a single occurrence at a workplace. An example of a situation that may cause you to feel stressed or anxious is any workplace conflicts with colleagues or customers. You may also feel this way when there's an approaching deadline for which you haven't had enough time to prepare. It could also come from recent redundancy or fear of losing a job.

Regardless of the profession or job, it's common to feel work-related stress in the form of anxiety. This is why getting to know yourself and finding which stress relievers work for you is important. They can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and significantly reduce the amount of stress that you experience in your daily life.

Related: How to deal with the stress of losing your job

The importance of relieving stress

Learning how to manage your stress levels has a number of benefits that can impact your professional and personal life. Understanding the advantages of relieving stress can motivate you to make a positive adjustment in your life. Here are some important benefits of stress relievers:

  • Improved mental health: Allowing stress to take control might reduce your overall well-being and confidence. Stress management may provide you with the mental clarity and peace of mind that you require.

  • Improved job performance: Since stress may impair your concentration, striving to reduce it can help you increase focus for extended periods of time. Furthermore, remaining concentrated on a task or job generally results in higher productivity and quality of work.

  • Improved job satisfaction: When you manage your stress properly, you're more likely to enjoy turning up to work every day, which contributes to career and job satisfaction.

Related: How to get motivated at work and reduce stress in 10 steps

Tips for stress relief

There are a number of positive ways to relieve stress. Here are 10 common stress relievers to try:

1. Exercise

One of the healthiest ways to relieve stress is to exercise because it helps reduce mental tension. The advantages increase when you exercise on a regular basis, instead of doing so sporadically. There are several reasons why you're less likely to suffer from stress if you exercise. For instance, exercise decreases the body's stress chemicals, such as cortisol, and aids the release of endorphins, which act as natural pain relievers.

Exercise can even help improve sleep quality, which stress and worry often hinder. Regular exercise also helps increase confidence, which enhances mental well-being. It's important to find an activity or fitness regimen that you'd truly enjoy, such as walking, yoga, rock climbing or dancing.

2. Eat a balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet improves your mood and helps you focus on what's most important. Eating healthy equips you with necessary tools, such as clarity of mind, that you can use to analyse a stressful situation and find the best solution for it. To determine the best diet for yourself, consider your dietary restrictions and preferences. For example, you may find that you feel better when you eliminate dairy or maintain a strict vegan diet. Regardless of your dietary choices, remember to eat several portions of greens, fruits and vegetables each day.

3. Read

Reading is a form of self-care that helps you relax. In many cases, it brings similar health benefits as meditation or deep relaxation. Regularly dedicating some time to reading may even improve the quality of your sleep. In addition to helping you reduce stress, reading can also strengthen your written and verbal communication skills, as it increases your vocabulary.

4. Spend time with family and friends

Spending time with family and friends can help you cope with stress. Talking to someone about your daily challenges may help you find better solutions to stressful situations. Spending time with friends and family has also other benefits. When you spend time with people who are close to you, you strengthen your social bonds and improve your psychological well-being. Social situations and being surrounded by the people you love can also give you a deeper sense of meaning in life.

5. Learn how to say no

Although some sources of stress may be beyond your control, you may also find that you can control some of them. For example, when someone asks you to do something when you're busy with your other duties, it's important that you remain assertive and say 'no'. This is particularly important if you find yourself agreeing to more obligations than you can manage since managing many responsibilities might leave you feeling overwhelmed.

6. Avoid procrastination

While procrastination serves as a short term distraction, it can cause guilt and stress. Another technique to gain control and decrease stress is to prioritise and stop delaying deadlines or activities. Procrastination can lead to reactive behaviour, making it difficult to catch up on tasks. As a result, your sleep quality and overall well-being could suffer. Make a habit of establishing a to-do list that you prioritise. Setting realistic deadlines and moving down the list can make it simpler to complete your duties while also scheduling undisturbed time to rest.

7. Meditate

Meditating can help you feel calm during even the busiest days at the office, making it a great stress reliever. This method is something that you can do anywhere and anytime. If you're experiencing a busy time at work and feel stressed because of it, consider creating a regular meditation schedule for when you're at work. You can, for example, dedicate two minutes every hour to a quick meditation and breathing session, which is a good way to provide yourself with a moment of solace.

8. Listen to relaxing music

Music may be beneficial to your mental health, daily performance and sleep. For much of history, music was a healing remedy. Musicians collaborated with physicians in ancient Arabic societies, and Greek people used music to heal mental illness. After the Second World War, hospitals in the United States introduced musicians to help in the rehabilitation of troops' physical and mental wounds.

Relaxing music has numerous impacts on the body, including slowing your breathing rate, lowering your blood pressure and heart rate and reducing your anxiety and stress. It can also trigger the release of oxytocin and serotonin, which are sleep-friendly hormones. Listening to music you enjoy can help you cope with even the most stressful of situations at work.

9. Try deep breathing exercises

Mental stress causes the body to enter 'fight-or-flight' mode. Deep breathing exercises can aid in the activation of your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps regulate the relaxation response. This can come in a variety of forms, including abdominal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, timed breathing and belly breathing. The purpose of deep breathing is to concentrate and place full attention on the breathing itself, making it deeper and slower. When taking a deep breath in through the nose, the lungs completely expand and the stomach rises. As a result, this slows the heart rate, causing feelings of ease and relaxation.

You can practice belly breathing by sitting or lying flat in a posture that's comfortable. After this, place one hand on your stomach just below your ribs and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose, then push your hand out with your belly. This breathing exercise involves no movement in the chest area and requires you to exhale with pursed lips. Repeat this between three to ten times, without rushing the inhalation step.

Related: The importance of life skills at work and at home

10. Spend time with pets

Stroking a dog or cat can help decrease the stress hormone cortisol. Additionally, any social contact between you and your pets raises levels of oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone. Interacting with animals also stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin, which can help alleviate anxiety, stress and sadness. It's for this reason that many hospital programmes have animal-assisted therapy programmes to help terminally and chronically unwell patients.

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