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12 ways to de-stress and relax

Modern life is hectic and overwhelming and too often we let the stresses of our lives build up until it makes us feel overloaded, burnt out or miserable.

April is National Stress Awareness month, and the intention of this month is to make everyone aware of what unmanaged stress might be doing to them. Studies have found that stress is linked to anxiety and depression, heart disease, insomnia and digestive problems. Yet so many of us fail to see the importance of employing de-stressing techniques into our daily lives.

The impact of stress is far from small or rare, according to the British Safety Council:

Work-related stress, depression and anxiety account for 40% of all work-related ill-health cases and 49% of working days lost throughout the year.

Below are some suggestions of easy and practical ways to unwind so that we can avoid this build-up of stress having a really detrimental impact on our wellbeing:

1) Identify what causes you stress

The first step towards overcoming the stresses in our lives is working out what triggers them. This is all very personal to each person and what causes stress for one person could be another person’s cup of tea. It is generally accepted that everyday stressors fall into one of these 10 categories:

  • Emotional
  • Family
  • Social
  • Change
  • Work
  • Decision
  • Phobic
  • Disease
  • Pain
  • Environmental

These categories can be used to break down and understand what causes you the most stress. Once you establish this you can combat the overwhelming nature of these stressors by compartmentalise them. This can be an incredibly helpful way of figuring out how to move forward and what needs to be done for you to have a happier and ultimately, healthier existence.

2) Breathing exercises and techniques

It seems a little cliche and simple to say ‘just breathe’ but truthfully, breathing is a useful way of calming yourself down. There are several different types of techniques and exercises you can try which should help restore calmness when things begin to feel like too much. So experiment with them and figure out which works best for you.

3) Let your imagination run wild

Picture a scenario or moment that makes you feel happy and at peace. This may be you accomplishing a goal in the future or just a tranquil paradise of your choosing and escape with it.

This doesn’t work for everyone and some people may feel this exercise is counterproductive since it delays the time you have to make these goals happen. So instead, psychologist, Gabriele Oettingen, came up with WOOP:

  • Wish
  • Outcome
  • Obstacle
  • Plan

Envision your dream, figure out the main obstacles and plan a way forward. Relaxing and productive!

5) Eat something

This doesn’t mean binge-eat lots of bad food but instead, pick something that offers some type of nutrition and then go sit in an environment that doesn’t stress you out to enjoy it. Take some time to savour the taste, enjoy the flavours and feel the food having a positive impact on your energy level.

6) Add more greenery to your indoors

Plants are scientifically proven to help us relax so fill the house and office with them! Too much of our day is spent indoors and it’s important to feel close to nature. It might sound a little ineffective but plants really do help clear our minds and make the room feel lighter and airy.

7) Step away from the screen

Put the phone down, turn off the computer, switch the TV off. You must have seen this one coming but it is right, we all spend far too much time on our gadgets and gizmos! Although technology is an asset in many ways, there is a lot of concern over what impact it is having on our mental well-being. Read more on digital wellness here.

8) Watch some comedy and have a good laugh

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Laughter is the best medicine after all. It is true, sometimes we all just need a good break from the norm and a reminder that we’re here to have a little fun! If you have any stand-up venues nearby then go check it out, being in a room full of laughter is infectious and can do wonders for your stress levels. If not then hey, turn the TV back on and put a comedy special or your favourite funny film on – whatever you need to crack a little laugh.

9) On that note, go socialise

What are friends for if not to give you a good laugh? Forget the choir list as long as your arm and go enjoy yourself with some good company. Try a new activity, visit your favourite pub, go camping, whatever you fancy!

10)Get organised

Go Marie Kondo your life! If one of your biggest stressors is your environment and the ever-growing clutter that you are drowning in, then set aside the time to tackle this issue. De-cluttering and organising our possessions can have a huge impact on our mental health, a clear space = a clear mind!

11) Hug, kiss or be intimate with someone

Several studies have found that intimacy in whatever form you feel comfortable with, can have a really calming and positive effect on us. Positive physical contact can combat stress symptoms by releasing oxytocin, lowing cortisol and lowing blood pressure and heart rate. So go and share some affection with your loved ones, it’s for our health after all!

12) Do some exercise

Yoga, pilates, jogging, swimming – pick your poison! It’s important to get out of your headspace when feeling overwhelmed and stressed which is exactly what happens when you exercise. Moving your body is a fantastic way of changing your focus from your mind to your physical capabilities and ultimately it serves as an excellent reminder that we’re all just human and we all need a break sometimes!

Explore some of the best health and social deals that Youth Discount has to offer here. De-stressing doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

Youth Discount is for all students, apprentices and 16–26 year olds!

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