Good mental health is vital to a fulfilling life. Often, we get caught up in everyday stress and carry it around with us all weekend—or all the time. The more stress we hold onto, the harder it is to relax and enjoy ourselves.
Too much stress at once or over time can cause mental illness. Once a person has developed a mental disorder, it may take a long time to recover.
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Here are 100 things you can do this weekend to alleviate stress so you can stay healthy and happy:
1. Get Outside
Fresh air can help you breathe better, sunshine can lift your mood, and stepping away from work or home duties can be a relief.
2. Go For A Run
Running gets your heart rate up, which pumps blood and oxygen through your body, lowering blood pressure (high blood pressure increases stress).
3. Walk Through The Woods
Studies show that being in nature reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. Don’t just walk, either—listen to the sounds, take in the sights, and feel the air.
4. Climb A Mountain (Or A Hill)
Besides the workout you’ll get on your way to the top, looking out over miles of landscape is awe-inspiring and stress-relieving.
5. Go For A Scenic Drive
During a scenic drive, you should be too busy admiring the beauty of nature to dwell on your stress. Rolling down the windows for fresh air can help, too.
6. Smell The Flowers
Literally, stop and smell the flowers. Some plants contain oils that reduce stress and promote calm.
7. Ride A Bike
Riding a bike can reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) and increase serotonin (a natural mood stabilizer).
8. Go To The Gym
Exercise causes the body to release more endorphins, which reward you with a feeling of happiness and calm.
9. Play A Sport
Playing sports increases endorphins and makes you focus on something other than your stress. Bonding with team members can be a stress-reliever, too.
10. Do Yoga
Yoga focuses on stretching, strengthening, and balancing the body, mind, and soul. Emptying the mind and meditating on your breathing and movements leaves no room for stress.
11. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation consists of tensing and releasing different muscle groups. Focusing on the relaxation of muscles throughout the body reduces stress.
12. Relax Your Body
Sometimes we are tense without realizing it. Consciously relaxing, such as letting our shoulders drop and releasing our jaw, can ease tension.
Stretching also relieves muscle tension. Touch your toes, reach your hands up to the sky, drop your head gently from side to side. Stretching when you wake up is a great way to start the day with less stress.
14. Get A Massage
Many people carry stress in little knots throughout the body, especially in the neck and shoulders. Professional massage therapists work out these tense spots in a calming environment.
15. Give Yourself A Massage
You know where your tense spots are and how much pressure you prefer. Giving yourself a massage with your hands or a massage tool can reduce stress when you need it most.
16. Release A Deep Sigh
A deep sigh is a physical release of stress, and it can improve breathing patterns that may become irregular during a stressful time.
17. Take A Deep Breath
Or several. Deep breathing ensures that your body gets the oxygen it needs, which allows it to function properly and prevents you from tensing as much.
Meditation means focusing deeply on one thing, ignoring all distractions. It gives the mind a chance to pause stressful thoughts and recharge.
19. Try Guided Imagery
Guided imagery has you focus on a relaxing scene and experience it through all of your senses. Your brain feels like you’re there, instead of in a more stressful place.
20. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment and paying attention to your thoughts, actions, and the world around you. By living intentionally, you have more control over how much stress you allow in your life.
21. Focus On Positive Thoughts
If you find yourself thinking negatively or worrying, try to change your thoughts to something positive. Even if you can’t feel differently about the object of your stress, thinking about something else can help.
22. Let Go Of What’s Worrying You
If stress is significantly impacting your life, it isn’t easy to just let it all go. But see if there is one small thing that you can stop worrying about—a decision you’ve already made, what someone did or said, or something else that you have no control over.
23. Forgive Someone
Holding onto a grudge hurts us more than the person who wronged us. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we’re ok with what happened, it just means freeing ourselves from the burden of anger it caused.
24. Make A Gratitude List
If you start listing things you are thankful for, chances are the list will be longer than you think. Focusing on good things takes power away from the bad things that cause stress.
25. Write In A Journal
Writing can be therapeutic. Rather than letting your stressful thoughts bounce around and tangle together, get them out and look at them from a different perspective.
26. Make A To-Do List
If you have a lot of things to get done this weekend, juggling them in your mind can be as stressful as actually doing them. Make a to-do list so you don’t have to spend any more mental energy remembering things. You’ll get the satisfaction of checking things off the list, too.
27. Go To Church
Going to church connects you with God as well as other people. Connection and community can help you feel less alone and less overwhelmed by stress.
When you pray, you release your worries to God. Many people find comfort in knowing that God is all-powerful and can alleviate their stress if they ask for his help.
29. Do Something Nice For Someone
Doing something nice for someone else takes the focus off of your problems. Most people feel better when they make someone else feel good.
30. Call A Loved One
Talking to a loved one can be therapeutic, even if you don’t talk about what’s stressing you out.
31. Visit A Friend
When you spend time with someone you like, you connect with them, talk to them, and get out of your head. Isolation often leads to depression and ruminating on stressful thoughts.
32. Share A Meal
Sharing a meal connects people without the pressure of someone entertaining or leading the conversation. Just relax and enjoy the good food and good company.
33. Eat Fresh Foods
Processed foods can make the body sluggish and the mind less sharp. Sticking to fresh foods will help you feel healthier mentally as well as physically.
34. Eat More Fruits And Vegetables
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends people eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day to reduce the risk of health problems like cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
35. Drink More Water
Drinking water reduces cortisol levels, alleviating stress. The more water you drink, the better you should feel overall.
36. Get Enough Sleep
We can’t handle stress well when we’re tired. Even on the weekend, make sure you get enough sleep.
37. Take A Nap
If you can’t get the sleep you need at night, take a nap. A midday nap can recharge you physically and mentally and give you a break from whatever’s going on that day.
38. Buy Yourself Flowers
Buying yourself flowers is a gesture of self-care. Put them in a place where you can see their bright colors, smell them when you walk by, and remind yourself you’re special.
39. Sit In The Sun
Sunlight increases the brain’s serotonin levels, making you feel happier. It also helps the body produce vitamin D, which is necessary for good mental health.
40. Put Your Feet In Water
Whether it’s a lake or a hot soak, putting your feet in the water can be soothing.
41. Go To The Beach
The beach has sunshine and water. It’s also a place to have fun and relax—not a place that’s associated with stress.
42. Go Swimming
The flow of water around you and the weightlessness of your body can be incredibly relaxing. If you swim for exercise, you benefit from endorphins, too.
43. Watch The Sunrise
Sunrise is a reminder of the beauty in the world, which works against our stress. Plus, most people are just waking up, so everything is quiet and still.
44. Watch The Sunset
Sunset is also peaceful and beautiful, but it feels a little different than sunrise. It can be a time to reflect on the good things that happened that day and take a break from stress.
If you’re lucky enough to live where you can see the stars, step outside at night and marvel at the immensity of the universe.
46. Turn Down The Lights
Bright lights can mess with your circadian rhythms and give you a headache. Dim the lights for a more calming, less stressful atmosphere.
47. Open A Window
Fresh air contains more oxygen than the air you rebreathe in an enclosed space. Open the window to get oxygen into your lungs, which increases your energy and serotonin levels.
48. Draw Or Paint A Picture
Even if you aren’t an artist. Tapping into the creative part of your brain shifts the focus off of your stress.
49. Create Something
Do a craft, write a poem, build a birdhouse, make up a song. When you accomplish something creative, you’re likely to feel more capable and less stressed.
50. Look At Photos Of A Happy Time
When you think about happy times, your mind relives those experiences, making you feel better in the present.
51. Read A Children’s Book
Children’s books always have a happy ending, and a lot of them rhyme, which makes them enjoyable to read.
52. Read A Good Story
Reading a good story feels like entering a different world, where you are someone else and your stress doesn’t exist.
53. Color A Mandala
A mandala is a circular, symmetrical pattern. Coloring a mandala encourages meditation as you focus on filling in each tiny shape.
54. Sit Up Straight
Our bodies reflect the way we feel. Sitting up straighter can make you feel more confident and capable of handling stress.
55. Get A Haircut
Getting a haircut may involve an enjoyable social interaction and a new look can boost your self-esteem.
56. Get A Manicure Or Pedicure
Manicures and pedicures can be very relaxing and can also increase confidence by sprucing up your physical appearance.
57. Take A Warm Bath
Warm baths relax the muscles, relieving tension throughout the body. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on the water around you instead of your stress.
58. Take A Shower
Showers can be revitalizing as well as relaxing. A massaging showerhead is an extra perk that can ease tension in the neck and shoulders.
59. Bake Something Delicious
Baking something delicious is a fun, creative activity that requires focus. And who doesn’t feel better eating delicious food?
60. Cook Your Favorite Meal
The whole time you’re making it, you get to look forward to eating it.
61. Eat At Your Favorite Restaurant
Good food, good service, and no cleanup? Relax, enjoy—and leave the stress at home.
62. Drink A Cup Of Tea
Some teas contain herbs that naturally reduce stress, and sipping a warm beverage can be comforting.
63. Take Some Quiet Time
We often don’t realize we need a break until we break. Take some quiet time to yourself—even 15 minutes—to just sit and not worry about anything or anyone.
64. Listen To An Uplifting Podcast
Listening to a speaker who inspires you can give you a fresh perspective and make you feel like anything is possible.
65. Listen To Water
Few sounds are as calming as water, whether it’s a recording or the real thing.
66. Take A Sound Bath
When you take a sound bath you listen to relaxing sounds, such as bells, singing bowls, and pulse drums. It shifts your brain to a lower state of activity and alleviates stress.
67. Listen To Classical Music
Studies show that listening to classical music like Mozart lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
68. Listen To Your Favorite Music
Listening to your favorite music can lift your spirits and energize you.
69. Find A New Hobby
Having something enjoyable to do in your free time means you have less time to think about things that stress you out.
70. Learn A New Skill
Learning a new skill takes focus, builds confidence, and can be a lot of fun.
71. Play A Board Game
Board games are social activities that usually involve creativity and laughter.
72. Do A Puzzle
Puzzles take a lot of mental energy and focus, so there’s no room left for stress.
73. Go On A Picnic
Getting out of your usual environment can alleviate stress. Going outside with good food and good company gives you three stress-busters in one!
74. Go Kayaking
Kayaking, canoeing, or boating involve exercise, nature, and a rocking motion that can relax the body and mind.
75. Go Sledding
Sledding isn’t just for kids—it can be a fun winter activity to reduce stress. We often feel stuck inside in the winter because of the cold and snow. Why not enjoy it instead?
Get your hands dirty. Soak in the sunshine. Anticipate the rewards of your hard work.
77. Build A Sandcastle Or Snowman
Connect with your inner child and create something special.
78. Visit A Zoo Or Aquarium
Zoos and aquariums are places for people to enjoy themselves. Learning about unique animals and watching water creatures float around gives you a break from stress.
79. Go Out For Ice Cream
Get out of the house and treat yourself to something delicious. (Just don’t make a habit of it—too much sugar can cause more stress.)
80. Sing A Song
Singing prompts the brain to release the stress-relieving hormones endorphins and oxytocin.
81. Dance Like No One’s Watching
Enjoy yourself and let go of caring what other people think. You’ll feel less stressed and you’ll get some exercise, too.
82. Laugh Out Loud
Even if you don’t feel like it, laughing can improve your mood.
83. Hug Someone
Hugging someone prompts the brain to release positive hormones that reduce stress.
84. Cuddle With Your Partner Or Your Kids
Cuddling is like hugging—it encourages the brain to produce happy chemicals and alleviate stress.
85. Pet Your Cat Or Dog
Petting your cat or dog is an act of bonding that increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol levels.
86. Smile At Someone
When you smile, you signal to your brain that you’re feeling happy, and it produces feel-good hormones like dopamine.
87. Let It Out
Sometimes stress is caused by holding something in—not allowing yourself to grieve or work through it. Let it out through a good cry or an honest conversation.
88. Adjust Your Expectations
Adjusting your expectations doesn’t mean settling or thinking negatively. It simply means recognizing that things may not go the way you expect and deciding to be ok with that.
89. Remove Yourself From A Stressful Situation
If your family members are arguing, the grocery store is crowded, or a project you’re working on just isn’t working, walk away. Staying in a stressful situation produces more stress, but taking a break can help you deal with it better when you go back.
90. Manage Your Time
Planning your day and being realistic about how much you can fit into it can alleviate a lot of stress. Be aware of and avoid the little things that add up to a lot of lost time.
91. Don’t Procrastinate
We often put off something we don’t want to do so that we aren’t stressed out by it. Not only does it stay in the back of our mind, causing more stress, but we still have to anticipate doing it later. Do it now and you’ll feel better.
92. Clean A Room
Being surrounded by clutter is stressful. Clean the room where you spend the most time and enjoy a more peaceful setting.
93. Organize A Closet Or Drawer
If a whole room is too much, organizing a small space can alleviate stress as well. Let go of things you don’t need and free up space for things you use, making them easier to access later.
94. Squeeze A Stress Ball
Squeezing a stress ball tenses and releases muscles, which prompts the body to let go of tension as well.
95. Try Aromatherapy
Use a candle or essential oil diffuser to inhale calming scents like lavender or lemon.
96. Use Essential Oils
Stress-relieving essential oils can be applied to the skin when mixed with a carrier oil. Rub them on pulse points like your temples or wrists.
97. Eat Dark Chocolate
Research shows that eating chocolate regularly can reduce stress. Dark chocolate has less sugar and more cacao, so it’s healthier and more effective.
98. Watch A Funny Movie Or TV Show
Get yourself laughing and get your mind off of stress.
99. Go To A Support Group Meeting
Talking with others who are experiencing similar stress can be a relief. It may also offer a new perspective so things don’t seem so bad.
100. Start Your Day Calmly
Don’t jump out of bed, rush around, and think of all the things you have to do. Allow yourself to wake up with a hot shower, a cup of coffee, and a few minutes of quiet time. How we start our day sets the stage for how we approach things all day long.
This weekend, try one or two things to alleviate stress and see how it goes. Don’t worry about doing them all. If you feel better, do the same things every weekend, and maybe add a few more. Good mental health comes from positive habits developed over time.