A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

10 activities to relieve stress

Woman relaxing and reading in a park with her dog - Activities to relieve stress

Self-care isn’t selfish. Whether it’s exercising, journaling or hanging out with a pet, it’s good to relieve stress.

Being stressed in life is often inevitable. However, we are more resilient and able to handle life’s stresses when we are feeling our best physically, mentally and emotionally. Kelsie-Marie Offenwanger, Child & Adolescent Psychology fellow at Marshfield Clinic Health System, said self-care is an important aspect of managing our lives.

Self-care is not being selfish or insensitive to the needs of others,” she said. “In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Taking time to care for yourself helps you be fully present for others in your life. Self-care can prevent burnout, lessen the negative effects of stress, encourage a healthy work-life balance and help you refocus.”

Negative side effects of stress

When you are overstressed, self-care is often the first thing to go or be forgotten about, which typically makes things worse. Offenwanger said you are less able to handle stress when you’re physically and mentally exhausted.

When stress leads to burnout at work or home, you may have feelings of resentment, especially if your role requires taking care of others.

Stress also can lead to a weakened immune system, and an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma and Alzheimer’s. Stress increases symptoms of anxiety and depression, and hinders your overall happiness and self-confidence.

Plan activities daily to de-stress

Planning time to care for yourself on a regular basis can make you healthier overall. Offenwanger shares 10 activities to start the process of self-care, and relieve stress whenever you need it.

  1. Take a break from your phone, emails and others distractions.
  2. Think of a positive or good thing about your day.
  3. Go to yoga or practice deep breathing exercises.
  4. Exercise or stretch.
  5. Try some meditation.
  6. Listen to music.
  7. Write in a journal.
  8. Play games with your friends or family.
  9. Laugh and be silly.
  10. Go to sleep.

Live a happy, stress-free life

For Offenwanger, de-stressing is all about finding something that helps her recharge or relax. She recommends making self-care a priority in your schedule.

“I try to disconnect from my phone for at least 30 minutes before I go to bed,” she said. “I then think of a positive from that day. Studies show that your mood will improve if you reflect on three good things from your day every day for 30 days.”

She also loves watching shows on Netflix while she exercises, spends time doing fun activities with people she cares about in her free time, and plays with her dog.

“I remind myself that it’s OK to be imperfect and immature,” Offenwanger said. “You need to take time to do things that make you happy.”

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