A Month's Worth of Stress Busters

Printable Version (calendar)

*Reprinted material from Contra Costa Health Services

Here are 31 ideas for reducing stress in your life - at home, on the job, even during "leisure" activities.

  1. Take a walk - alone, with a friend, or with the dog.
  2. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe in slowly, then slowly exhale. Picture the tension leaving your body as you let all the air out.
  3. Listen to some relaxing music.
  4. Get up and dance.
  5. Read a good book, magazine, or newspaper.
  6. Meditate. Close your eyes and mentally follow your breath as it goes in and out. See in your mind a peaceful and meaningful scene as you breathe. This exercise is most effective if done for 10 to 20 minutes.
  7. Be a "conductor"! Waving your arms to the beat of a favorite piece of music can be physically and emotionally relaxing.
  8. Laugh out loud. Check out a comedy club, see a funny movie, read a joke book, or call a friend who can make you laugh.
  9. Have a massage or practice self-massage. Reach around to left shoulder with right hand from in front. Massage your shoulder muscles, working your way up to your neck to your scalp. Repeat on other side.
  10. Exercise! Any type of workout will do.
  11. Sing a song. Don't worry about how you sound. Just the process of singing can relieve tension.
  12. Practice positive self-talk. Make a list of what causes stress in your life and your response to them. Write a positive response to every negative cause, such as "I'm the best person for his job."
  13. Do something you like: a hobby, baking cookies, organizing a room, anything to get your mind off stressful thoughts or situations.
  14. Do some simple yoga stretches.
  15. Draw or paint a picture. Drawing can help you use mental skills you may not use in everyday life. Focus on what you're drawing, not on how good the picture is.
  16. Talk to someone; a friend, a doctor, a relative, a religious leader, anyone with a sympathetic ear and a few moments to spare.
  17. If a too busy schedule is causing you stress, practice setting limits on your obligations. Always keep some time for yourself.
  18. Take care of business. If you've been putting off a task or duty, just do it, and enjoy the relief of getting it over with.
  19. Sit up straight. Slumping can cause tension in your neck and back and send a message of discouragement to your mind.
  20. Actively relax. While sitting or lying in a relaxed position, tense the muscles of your feet, and then relax them. Do the same to your legs. stomach, back, arms, neck, and facial muscles.
  21. Take a nap.
  22. Stop trying to concentrate or focus on something. If you wear glasses, take them off for a moment. Move away from whatever is taking your attention and let your mind wander for a brief mental recess.
  23. Have a cup of tea, mineral water, fruit of vegetable juice, or hot broth. Avoid alcohol or caffeine.
  24. Take a relaxing drive.
  25. Do something to avoid temperature extremes. If you're too hot, find a way to cool off. If you're too cold, find a way to warm up. Remember to respect the temperature needs of others, though.
  26. Read out loud to a child.
  27. Sit in your backyard or a park and listen to the sounds. Hear the birds, traffic, airplanes, dogs barking, and people talking.
  28. Go for a bike ride. Don't forget your helmet!
  29. Visit the zoo or aquarium. Or go to your local animal shelter and visit the animals.
  30. Volunteer at any nonprofit or charitable agency.
  31. Visit a museum. For some people the quiet of a museum is relaxing.
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