Reduce Stress: 10 Highly Effective Simple Ways

Reduce Stress: 10 Highly Effective Simple Ways

How do you reduce stress? Life has many things to offer, love, adventure, friends, and travel to note a few, but it also comes with stress. People have pressures from life, family, school, and work, not to mention all the changes because of COVID-19.

What is Stress?

According to the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) “Stress is a normal response to situational pressures or demands and is a part of everyday life. But chronic stress can lead to mental health problems and medical issues.”

Some short-term nerves can be beneficial to help a person meet deadlines or avoid danger, but long-term stress can lead to serious mental or physical health complications.

COVID-19 and Stress

COVID-19 has created more stress. Working from home, homeschooling and being stuck at home with no sense of when life will get back to normal has added to typical stress levels.

According to Statistics Canada, in a study conducted from April to May 2020, 52% of respondents said their mental health had worsened since the start of physical distancing. While 88% of participants had at least one symptom of anxiety, 71% felt nervous, 69% felt irritable and 54% had trouble relaxing. I can imagine that almost a year later the results would be higher.

Stress and relax arrows

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Causes of Stress

There are multiple causes of stress, and what upsets one person may not affect another:

  • Big life changes
  • Car accident
  • Death (family or friend)
  • Excess worrying
  • Financial problems
  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Lack of control
  • Loneliness
  • Relationships
  • Uncertainty
  • Work/school

Symptoms of Stress

Stress can affect your mind, body, emotions and behaviour:

Cognitive Stress

  • Constant worrying
  • Disorganization
  • Low self-confidence
  • Memory loss
  • Perpetual worrying
  • Pessimism
  • Problems thinking
  • Racing thoughts 


Emotional Stress

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Compulsive behaviour
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Moodiness

Physical Stress

  • Aches
  • Body tension
  • Chest pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Fast heart rate
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach irritability
  • Tiredness

Behavioural Stress

  • Avoidance
  • Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Grinding teeth
  • Increased substance use
  • Nail Biting
  • Procrastination
Stress on a chalkboard

Created in Canva

10 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

There are many ways to reduce stress. What works for one person might not work for another. What works one day might not work another, so it is good to have multiple coping tools to use.

1. Deep Breathing

Taking deep breaths while dealing with stress or anxiety can calm your body and mind in a few minutes. Breathe in through your nose and count to three as you inhale, hold for one second then slowly release as you count to three again. This is a technique you can do even surrounded by people with no one noticing.

2. Eat Well

Eating a well-balanced diet helps to control your mood and your reactions to stress. Carbohydrates produce a spike in blood sugar that causes a crash later that can increase your stress and anxiety levels.

3. Eliminate the Source

Eliminate the source of your stress if possible. Maybe you can’t quit your job or skip taking a test, but you can remove unnecessary things. For example, watching the news can be a trigger for people and is easy to stop doing. Reassess your to-do list and reduce anything unnecessary.

4. Exercise

Physical activity can help to relax you and improve your mood. Even if you only have ten minutes a day, any exercise is better than none. Taking a walk in nature can reduce stress in minutes and put you in a different frame of mind. Even a brief walk around the office can help.

5. Get a Hobby

Make time to do the things you enjoy. Most people put their hobbies low on their priority list, but spending a few moments a day doing what you love can reduce your stress level. Hobbies could include puzzles, reading, journaling, knitting or anything else you enjoy doing.

6. Get a Pet

Getting a pet can help reduce stress because pets provide unconditional love. According to Bardal, ten minutes a day petting an animal can reduce mental strain because physical touch calms the brain. That is why you see an increase in therapy dogs in hospitals, universities and long-term care facilities.

7. Limit Addictive Substances

Reduce your intake of alcohol, drugs, caffeine and cigarettes. While it may feel that these things help in the short run, the effects wear off, often leaving you in the same place or worse.

8. Meditate

Meditation and practicing mindfulness can provide relief. Create a mantra to repeat as you focus on breathing keeps you in the present so you can’t focus on past mistakes or worry about the future. Use your senses to pay attention while doing a body scan, relaxing every part of your body.

9. Muscle Relaxation

Practice tightening then relaxing every group of muscles in your body, starting with your head down to your toes while you take deep breaths. You can do this lying down or sitting in a chair.

10. Take a Break

Plan to take scheduled breaks. If you feel stressed, walk away for a few minutes to refresh yourself. Studies have shown that taking a break can restore energy and improve your mental awareness. 

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you can’t reduce your stress levels. Remind yourself that things don’t have to be perfect. What do you do to reduce your stress? Let me know in the comments.


Until next time



Feature image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.