10 Fast, Effective Stress Busters

Christmas, or any other big family occasion, can definitely be stressful but these ten tips will help.


This is the time of year when there are lists for lists, a lot to do and so stress and anxiety can really catch you out.

Here are some simple ideas to turn to that can really help.

1. Laugh a lot

Feeling stressed about work and family responsibilities may cut down your ‘laughter opportunities’ but there are plenty of quick things you can do to reduce your tension.

Watch your favourite comedy show on TV, or throw a comedy into the DVD player, invite over some friends, and share a few good laughs.

Every time you crack up, increased oxygen courses to your organs, blood flow increases, and stress evaporates. In fact, just thinking about having a good laugh is enough to lower your stress hormone levels.

2. Pet a dog

I don’t have a dog but lose no opportunity to pet one! My yoga class has a sighting impaired chap and his dog who is universally petted by all, with his owner’s permission of course.

A pet not only gives you unconditional love, but is also good for your health. When you pet a dog even for just a few minutes, your body releases feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin.

At the same time, it decreases the amount of the damaging stress hormones that are released. That can mean lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and even a boost in immunity.

As a cat lover myself I am pretty sure the same thing applies to cats, but of course they choose who gets to do the petting and when!

3. Clean the clutter

Being surrounded by too much stuff can be overwhelming and contribute to stress. It brings on anxiety when you can’t find your keys, your glasses, or the utility bill.

So de-clutter to de-stress. Tackle a drawer, a shelf, or a tabletop one at a time. An uncluttered space can feel satisfying and restorative. As an added plus, spring cleaning is good exercise, burning more than 250 calories an hour.

4. Mow the lawn

Cutting the lawn might sound like work, but the smell of freshly mown grass actually can make you feel more relaxed.

Scientists say chemicals from newly cut grass may help block the release of stress hormones in the brain. Just remember to wear earplugs to drown out the mower, because too much loud noise can send your stress rate soaring again.

No lawn? Could you volunteer to help an elderly neighbour with their garden to get a two for one feel good bonus?

5. Eat an orange

Researchers say vitamin C may help people manage their stress more effectively, in part by lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

As an added bonus, vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, or sweet red peppers can help boost your immune system.

6. Sing for health

Turn up the radio in the car or start singing in the shower, or join a local community or specific choir. No matter how out of tune you are, singing can make you feel happier.

Choir members who were surveyed said singing put them in a better mood and made them feel less stressed.

Singing also can be good for your breathing and posture, as well as your heart and immune system.

7. Take a walk

Exercise is a great way to ease stress. It helps your body produce endorphins — the neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel good. It also forces you to focus, helping you forget what’s making you anxious.

Exercising can boost your mood and, if you walk briskly for at least 30 minutes, you’ll meet daily exercise recommendations, and ramp up stress-busting benefits even more.

8. Chew gum

Chewing gum can do more than freshen your breath. According to research, chewing gum also seems to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve mental performance during tasks.

In one study, not only did gum chewers report they were less stressed, they were also less depressed and less likely to see a doctor for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

9. Have sex

Not always an available option for everyone, but having sex is actually a great way to relieve tension and ease stress.

Sex lowers blood pressure, boosts self-esteem, and increases feelings of intimacy with your partner. It can also help you sleep better, which is a great benefit when you’ve spent sleepless nights stressing about problems.

10. Take a deep breath

Deep breathing sends oxygen surging through your bloodstream, helping to calm your entire body. Breathing slowly in for 4, holding the breath for 4, and breathing out for 4 is definitely a way to bring your stress levels down

It’s also good before bed too to help you relax for a better night’s sleep.

Aromatherapy can help if you take a deep breath of some lavender or rosemary oil. Inhaling those aromas may lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. But just the act of breathing deeply is also a stress buster.