Top 10 Activities for Relieving Stress: Treat Yourself!

November 13, 2015

The one biggest piece of advice I can give you is to get into the habit of treating yourself when you feel stressed out! We often forget ourselves in our busy routines, and this is your body’s way of saying that it needs care and pampering too!

Everyone has days or moments in their day when they just want to throw their hands up and just stop everything because life’s getting a tad too stressful. Or you are so mentally burdened it’s time to force relaxation. Either way, the usual tips given – to eat healthy, sleep enough, exercise regularly, meditate, and take time out for yourself – can all start to seem like a chore when you’ve reached your breaking point.

Either way, give yourself at least an hour or to relax and calm down. Over the years, I’ve come up with my own toolbox of things I can do to give myself an enforced time-out. Everyone’s toolbox will be a bit different, as it depends on what you consider work and play – for example, walking doesn’t help me clear my head so I don’t do it!


The following Top 10 quick pick-me-ups are quite helpful stress busters. Make your own Top 10 activities toolbox that can be your go-to whenever the next stress bomb hits too!

1) Take a Hot Shower

Other people walk to clear their heads, I shower. There is something about standing under a hot jet stream of water that dissolves all my stress. I’ve had days when I take 3-4 showers a day just to wipe my mind blank!

2) Take a Nap

I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Especially when I’m trying to write a 5000 word essay the night before my assignments due (procrastination queen) or after big fights or particularly bad depressive episodes. As long as you’re not an insomniac, and even if you’ve had enough sleep during the night, just turn the lights off, snuggle under your covers, and close your eyes. I find these naps refreshing and the pressures of the day don’t look so scary when I  open my eyes again.

3) Get a Haircut

I’ve mentioned this in yesterday’s post as well, but going and getting a haircut or highlights  is a great stress buster. You can’t do this activity too often as it can become a very expensive endeavor (plus you only have a certain amount of hair to play with), but I’ve been known to use this method about 2 to 3 times a year.

4) Do a Color-by-Numbers

The mechanical and rote action involved in coloring needs your full attention and it stops you from thinking about other things. I see it as a form of active meditation. I learned to do this from my friend in Chicago. We’d have coloring parties when the tension of being grad students was crushing us!

5) Watch a Movie

I go to the cinema (or nearby discount theater) to watch my movies but you can just as easily watch them at home too! Just make sure it’s not a heavy and serious film. I get wrapped up in watching and it takes my mind off….well, me. Sappy tearjerkers are a bonus.

6) Get a Face Massage

Massage-lovers will love this one! Any kind of massage is good because they are such a treat, but I’ve found that the following areas often feel the best when I’m particularly stressed out: face, head, arms, and hands. Do it yourself, find a professional, or teach your spouse/partner!

7) Do a Jigsaw Puzzle

For jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts like myself, I’d definitely recommend this method of relieving stress. I have one or two easy puzzles in my house that I love to make when I’m stressed. I made sure they’re small enough that I can complete them in one sitting (my beach puzzle is 500 pieces and takes me 2 hours flat to complete). I never choose a puzzle I’ve never done before, it’s in the ‘familiar’ that relief and comfort lies. Again, it has to do with making the movement as rote and mechanical as possible to produce the effects of meditation. If I’m still not completely de-stressed by the time I finish, it’s not uncommon for me to disassemble the puzzle and start over again. Sometimes I’ll feel better even if the puzzle’s not complete, and I just put it back into the box ready for another ‘rainy day’.

8) Have a Cry

Again, I’ve used this therapeutic tactic for as long as I can remember. When things get overwhelming, just have a cry and you tend to feel better afterwards. If you’re having trouble crying to the point of relief, can I suggest looking at your red, blotchy face in the mirror – it’s bound to bring on a fresh wave of tears!

9) Eat a Take-Away Meal

Delivery doesn’t do it for me because it involves interacting with the delivery guy/gal too long. Instead, I walk to a nearby restaurant that serves yummy food, order, pay, get some other nibbles at the corner grocery store, pick up the food, and head straight home. You don’t have to worry about cooking, and eating great food can be your treat for feeling so stressed.

10) Text your Friends

Sometimes it’s nice to talk to friends and partners face to face too (they are natural pick-me-ups), but that can seem like too much work at times. Sometimes you just want to scream or punch a pillow and aren’t ready to talk about it yet. A simple, one-sided text full of frustration and angst is enough to make me feel better. Even if they don’t reply for a few hours, just sending it seems to soften the ball of stress within me. I have a handful of friends who I will write to, at any time of day or night (and always out of the blue), with a short burst of “I’m going crazy!” or “why is life so hard :'(” or something similar. They have come to expect it from time to time, and send their own versions of similar outbursts when they are feeling overwhelmed as well. There is no need for explanation. If you don’t do this already, get into the habit! And honestly – that’s what friends are for!

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