25 Unique Ways to Relieve Stress

There are countless ways to relieve stress. We’re told again and again to eat well, sleep, exercise, and live a balanced life. While all of those things definitely help, there are lots of other ways to reduce stress. Here are 25 different ones that you can try right now:

1. Call a friend. Haven’t spoken to your best friend from college for a while? Give her a ring! It’s nice to talk to someone who reminds you of your playful side. It will probably feel like no time has passed at all and leave you feeling energized.

2. Make a Fall Vibes Playlist. Listening to a powerful song can really help you chill out—having a whole hour’s worth is simply bliss. When you’ve made your perfect playlist, share it with a friend!

3. Make a gratitude list …with chalk. Grab some chalk, and beautify your neighborhood block with good vibes. Write about the people, things, events, and experiences you are grateful for. You can make it as simple or elaborate as you want. Invite others to spread their positivity with you!

4. Plan a vacation. While this one may initially create more stress, once it’s all planned, you get to look forward to climbing jagged peaks, sipping margaritas on a beautiful resort beach, or spending a weekend getaway at the lake. It will make that stressful work project easier to get through!

5. Help someone. Helping others can actually make us feel good. Maybe a friend is moving and could use your expert Tetris skills to pack boxes, or you can pay it forward to a stranger with a random act of kindness—helping others is mutually beneficial.

6. Rent a Divy bike and ride on the lakeshore. The weather is simply perfect right now for a leisurely ride along the lake. Go alone and enjoy some time to reflect, unplugged from technology, or bring a friend and enjoy one another’s company.

7. DIY. Who doesn’t love Pintrest? Now’s the time to actually attempt one of those beautiful creations! Make your own wood sign or do something easier and make your own lavender spray.

8. Take a bath with a glass of wine. I used to think that was a little over-the-top, but then I gave it a try and wow! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! And maybe you can listen to that Fall Vibes Playlist you already made 😊

9. Laugh. You know that Youtube video that cracks you up every time you see it (even though nobody else is laughing)? Watch it like 5 times. Here’s one of my personal favorites: Kitten vs TWO scary things.

10. Slow it down. You know how you’re super awesome at multi-tasking? Well stop it! Multitasking can actually increase your levels of cortisol and adrenaline and make you more stressed (yikes!) Try doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention before turning to another.

11. Schedule a time in the day to worry. Take out your phone, set an alarm, and for 15 minutes, let yourself worry about everything. During the rest of the day, remind yourself that you have time for that scheduled in later, and put it away for the time being.

12. Learn a new recipe. You don’t have to be Julia Child—make something simple! Instead of getting caught up on Pintrest and adding a million pins to your recipe board (and then not actually having the time to make any of them), ask a friend or family member for a tasty and easy recipe, and give it a go!

13. Watch a thunderstorm. Put away your phone or any other distractions—just sit and watch the clouds moving. Listen to the wind roaring and the rain hitting your windows. All you need is a few minutes. Take note of how you feel afterwards.

14. Watch a documentary. Netflix has dozens of them. Some are amazing, and others you wonder how the thing was ever funded, but it ends up being hilarious none-the-less. Have fun learning something new.

15. Create a wardrobe capsule. When I first heard about the minimalists and Project 333, I thought their message would feel judgmental and preachy, but it’s not about that at all. The great thing about minimalism and the minimalist fashion challenge is that you tailor it to your comfort level—it’s not about getting rid of everything in your life, it’s about being more thoughtful about your consumerism so that you can have room for more in other ways. It can be a big undertaking, but when you’re done, you might feel like a huge load has been lifted off of your shoulders. I’ll definitely talk more about this in a future post!

16. Start a bullet journal. Store everything in one place—release your worries and leave them on paper, keep your calendar there, make a bucket list, etc. You can make it as basic or artistic as you want.

17. Be a tourist for a day. Chicago is an extraordinary city filled with amazing history, culture, and most importantly, food! I meet so many people who have never tried some of Chicago’s best experiences—you live here, so what are you waiting for? Take an Architecture boat tour, see the replica of the largest dinosaur in the world at the Field Museum, enjoy a free concert at Millennium Park, check out one of the dozens of neighborhood festivals. Doing something new can help you emotionally recharge.

18. Read a book. Light some candles, put on some mood tunes, and stay in for a night to read a great book. Choose a suspenseful thriller, a surprisingly wonderful autobiography, or an old favorite (you can really never read Harry Potter too many times). Keep the technology out of site, and lose yourself in the story—everything else can wait for an evening.

19. Have a backyard campout. Trust me, you’re never too old for a slumber party with you friends! Grab your sleeping bag, fixings for s’mores, set up a tent, and enjoy telling stories and laughing around a bonfire into the wee hours of the night. Sometimes we just need to go back to the basics 😊 Don’t have a backyard? Check out one of the dozens of campgrounds within 3 hours of Chicago!

20. Have a picnic. You can do this anywhere—a park, your balcony, your living room floor. Make some sandwiches or go all-out with a fruit-and-cheese platter.

21. Pet your fur baby. Snuggle up with your dog/cat/guinea pig/etc.! Spend some uninterrupted time with your pet and let them know how loved they are with a nice belly rub.

22. Learn a new language. Ever wished you could speak two languages? Start right now! Try a free program like Duolingo and immerse yourself in another culture.

23. Dress up. You don’t even have to go anywhere—just dress up and feel beautiful! Or dress up with some friends and go somewhere completely ordinary, like the patio of your favorite coffee shop.

24. Plant some flowers. You don’t need a yard, or even a balcony. You can start your own flower pots inside your home. Grow your favorite flower, or even your own herbs.

25. Clean your house. But make it fun! Rock out to your current favorite song (new Backstreet Boys song anyone?), talk to someone on your headset, listen to some stand-up comedy—cleaning doesn’t have to be terrible, and you’ll feel relaxed afterwards!

Stress doesn’t have to take over your life—any one of these strategies can help break up your schedule just enough so you can take a breath before jumping back in. When we take better care of ourselves, we are more prepared to tackle other parts of our life.

If stress is still invading your life after trying some of these, feel free to contact me and see if therapeutic services might be helpful for you. I work with women to develop individual stress management plans, and would be happy to see if we're a good fit for one another!

As always, warm wishes,