Stress, to some extent, is unavoidable. We might feel it when we're stuck in traffic, facing a tight deadline, or overwhelmed with responsibilities. When it becomes ongoing and chronic, however, we often start to experience severe consequences of stress that not only impact our mental and physical health but also make life seem a lot less enjoyable. But what if there was a way (or many ways) to relieve stress that is also fun and enjoyable? As it turns out, there are many ways to relieve stress that involve doing things you enjoy! So, if meditation or yoga isn't your thing, it doesn't mean you're out of luck when it comes to better managing your stress.
Today, we're going to share several ideas for how to relieve stress that you'll enjoy at the moment while also reaping the stress-reducing effects for hours, days, or weeks to come.
Before we get into these ideas, however, let's first talk about the health benefits of hobbies and how they work to reduce stress in your life. Although hobbies are most commonly thought of in terms of fun and enjoyment, it turns out their benefits go much deeper than that.
Hobbies are those activities done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure. This can include anything from playing a sport to collecting stamps. Some people even consider their job a hobby if they enjoy it that much!
The health benefits of hobbies are vast and well-documented. Research has shown having a hobby can:
As you can see, there are many impressive reasons to make time for a hobby! Not only are they enjoyable, but they also have some serious health benefits.
Doing things you already love is useful for reducing stress in your life for several reasons we'll explore next.
You likely already know that relaxation feels great at the moment. But it can also play a big role in reducing the overall stress in your life. At the same time, relaxation is important for maintaining good physical health. That's because chronic stress can lead to several serious consequences, as we mentioned. These include health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.
Luckily, there are many ways to relax. And conveniently, you can tailor your relaxation method to fit your preferences and needs.
Here are some quick ideas for how to relax:
You've probably experienced eustress before, but the word for this type of positive stress isn't as well known as the classic definition of stress. This is a type of stress that is associated with positive outcomes. For example, you might be stressed on a long travel day to an incredible destination. Because the outcome is positive (arriving in a beautiful location), this is a type of positive stress or "eustress."
Unlike distress, which is harmful, eustress has some benefits.
Research has shown that eustress can:
Now, how do you get more eustress in your life? One great way is, you guessed it, to find a hobby you're passionate about. Doing something you love regularly can help increase the amount of eustress in your life while also reducing the amount of distress.
Some ideas for hobbies that can lead to eustress include:
Positive psychology and activities you enjoy are often closely intertwined. Luckily, many different techniques fall under the umbrella of positive psychology. And each one can be used to help you feel happier, more fulfilled, and less stressed.
Some powerful positive psychology techniques that can help reduce stress involve attitude, gratitude, and positive affirmations.
This technique involves focusing on the positives in your life. It can help shift your thinking from negative to positive and improve your mood in the process.
Attitude, as they say, is everything. Having a positive attitude all the time is tough, but if you can focus on improving your attitude even a little bit, it can make a big difference in how you feel.
Expressing gratitude has been shown to increase well-being and happiness. It can also help reduce stress by allowing you to focus on the good things in your life.
There are many ways to express gratitude to yourself or others. For example, you could:
These are short, powerful statements you say to yourself regularly. Positive affirmations can help shift your thinking from negative to positive and increase your overall happiness.
Here are some affirmations you might consider trying:
Burnout can be intense and all-consuming. But focusing on relieving stress by doing things you love can be a powerful tool in your efforts to feel better.
Before we move on to the common causes of burnout and what burnout can look like in those scenarios, let's list some symptoms of burnout many people experience:
Many factors contribute to burnout. Here are some of the most common:
Often, unrealistic expectations, a lack of control, and a poor work-life balance are common in work, school, family, friends, and financial situations.
This is one of the most common culprits of burnout. It's not surprising when you consider how much time we spend at work. If you don't enjoy your job or you're constantly feeling overwhelmed, it's only a matter of time before burnout sets in.
Here are some signs to watch for when it comes to burnout at work:
For many people, family is the most important thing in their lives. But that doesn't mean that it can't be a source of stress. Family relationships are one of the most common causes of burnout.
Here are some signs to watch for when it comes to burnout and family:
Having a strong social support network is crucial for good mental health. But even the best relationships can be a source of stress. If you're feeling burnt out, it might be time to take a closer look at your friendships.
Here are some signals your friends are causing burnout:
Whether you're five, 25, or 55, being a student can be stressful! The pressure to perform, the never-ending assignments, and the constant comparisons can all lead to burnout.
Here are some signs that school is causing burnout:
Money is one of the most common sources of stress. If you're struggling to make ends meet or you're constantly worried about money, it's hard to focus on anything else.
Here are some indicators that financial problems are causing burnout:
Now that we've looked at some of the most common causes of burnout let's take a look at how you can prevent it.
There are several things you can do to prevent or reduce feelings of burnout. Some suggestions include:
Burnout is a serious issue that shouldn't be ignored. If you're feeling burnt out, make sure to take action and make some changes. Otherwise, you'll just end up feeling even more stressed and overwhelmed.
One of the other most effective ways to prevent burnout is spending time doing things you love, so let's get back to that.
Now, without further ado, here are some of the actual practices you can try if you're figuring out how to relieve stress by doing things you already love.
As it turns out, some of the best ways to relieve stress can be done incredibly quickly. At first glance, they might not seem like things you love, but we're going to explain how you can incorporate these stress-reducing activities into practices you love.
Of course, exercising is great for your health, but it can also be an extraordinary way to reduce stress. Exercise releases endorphins—powerful mood-boosting chemicals. Additionally, they can help you sleep better and even improve your self-esteem.
So, how can you make exercise something you love? Start by finding an activity that you genuinely enjoy. Maybe it's going for a walk, lifting weights, or playing tennis. Once you've found an activity you enjoy, make sure to schedule it into your week, so it becomes a regular part of your routine.
Another quick and easy way to reduce stress is to get some sun, and luckily, this is something many people already love to do! Sunlight exposure helps your body produce vitamin D, which has some benefits for your health.Vitamin D has been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and even boost immunity.
Start by making it a habit to spend some time outside every day. This could be anything from taking a walk in the park to sitting on your porch. Once you've made it a habit, you'll start to look forward to your daily dose of vitamin D!
Okay—we know counting might not be on a list of things you love. But what if we told you that counting could help you reduce stress? Research has shown that counting can help improve focus and attention, and it can also help to control anxiety.
As for making counting something you love, start by finding a practice that incorporates counting into something you enjoy doing, like knitting or gardening. While you do these things, try counting your breaths and see how it calms your mind and helps you relieve your stress.
Speaking of counting your breaths, let's talk more about breathing exercises next.
Physical exercise is one thing, but breathing exercises are also incredibly important for stress relief. That's because deep breathing helps to improve oxygen flow to the brain, which can help to reduce anxiety and improve focus.
Start by finding a practice that incorporates deep breathing into something you already love—maybe it's reading, crossword puzzles, or painting. While you do these things, make sure to focus on your breath and notice how it helps you relax and reduce your stress levels.
Having fun, smiling, and laughing might seem like child's play. But the truth is, they play big roles in the topic of how to relieve stress—it's hard to focus on your stress when you're smiling and having fun!
Here are some of the different ways to have more fun, smile more, and laugh more that can also help your stress levels at the same time.
There are so many ways to do this because fun means something a little different to everyone. But here are some general ideas:
Smiling is another great way to reduce stress because it sends signals to your brain that help improves your mood.In one study, participants were asked to do a stressful task while either holding a pencil in their teeth (forcing them to smile) or between their lips (forcing them to frown). The results showed that the group who were smiling had lower levels of cortisol than the group who were frowning.
In this case, faking it until you make it can provide you with some stress-relieving benefits! The next time you're feeling stressed, try smiling and see how it makes you feel.
Laughter is also a great way to reduce stress because it helps to release endorphins (feel-good chemicals in the brain). Endorphins not only make you feel good, but they also help to improve your mood and reduce stress.
During a2021 study, participants were asked to do a stressful task while either watching a funny video or a neutral video. The results showed that the group who watched the funny video had lower levels of cortisol than the group who watched the neutral video.
So, if you want to laugh more and relieve some stress, try watching a funny movie, TV show, or stand-up comedy routine. You could also try hanging out with friends who make you laugh or reading a funny book.
It's also worth talking about vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) while we cover the different ways to relieve stress while doing things you love. VNS is a process where a mild electrical signal is sent to the vagus nerve in the ear. For many people, this can help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve focus and concentration.
There are a few different ways to do VNS, but one of the most popular non-invasive options is Xen byNeuvana headphones. Xen is a device that uses patented earbuds to deliver electrical signals to the vagus nerve. It's easy to use and convenient, so you can relax without the strain.
While you reap the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation with the special headphones, you can even listen to your favorite music or sounds. Talk about relieving stress while also doing something you love!
Stress is a part of life, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer from it. There are all kinds of things you can do to relieve stress and feel better. And the best part? Some of these things (like having fun, smiling, and laughing) are things you probably already love to do.