Unusual ways to reduce stress

There are lots of ‘traditional’ ways you can use to help reduce stress, including things like yoga, healthy eating and mindfulness. However, this article sets out to give you some more ‘alternative’ and ‘unusual’ approaches to stress relief.

1. Listen to ASMR

A pair of black headphones on a white surface. There is also a white keyboard and a white mouse to the side of the headphones.

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a feeling of well-being combined with a tingling sensation in the scalp and down the back of the neck. It is experienced by some people in response to a specific gentle stimulus, often a particular sound like whispering voices, tapping on objects, crinkling paper or someone eating particular types of foods.

You can find plenty of YouTube channels dedicated to ASMR, including many different genres and themes. It might take a while to find something that suits you, but research has shown that ASMR lowers heart rate and improves overall health and well-being in the long term.

Listening to ASMR is one of my favourite things to do before bed, it helps me to forget about everything else in my head and focus solely on the particular sounds which are playing.

2. Eat Something Crunchy

A wooden box filled with carrots.

Studies have shown that eating something crunchy helps to significantly reduce stress. Crunchy foods like carrots, celery and apple work well to provide a sense of relief by diverting your attention somewhere else, whilst reducing the tension that often builds up in your jaw when you’re stressed.

Another similar thing I like to do is to snack on some frozen grapes. Grab yourself some fresh grapes and pick them off the stalk, pop the loose grapes in a tupperware box and leave them in the freezer overnight. I like to use small boxes so I can portion my grapes so they last longer as I can take one small box out at a time, and they’re easier to fit in the freezer!

3. Have a Puzzle Break

A hand touching a puzzle piece in a partially completed jigsaw on a glass table.

Puzzles are an amazing way of refocusing your mind, allowing you to concentrate on one specific task. This positive mental stimulation can help you to create a meditation-style state where you can focus on the tranquillity and peacefulness of completing a relatively simple task, like a jigsaw.

By focusing on something different you will divert your attention from the other tasks you’ve been facing throughout the day, helping you to create a fresh outlook when you finish your puzzle break.

4. Practise a Dance Routine

A happy looking woman with headphones on holding a phone on a yellow background.

We’ve all got used to a classic at-home workout during lockdown over the last year, so why not change it up a bit and get stuck into a dance routine? Dancing causes your body to releases endorphins, chemicals in your body that reduce stress and feelings of pain.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or well thought out, either find a dance keep-fit style YouTube video or simply get your favourite music playing, and get practising for when the clubs re-open in June!

5. Set Fire to your Stressy Thoughts

A small stack of paper on fire against a black background.

Write your stressful thoughts on a piece of paper, put the paper in a burn-safe container and set it alight. Watch your stress burn away and let the flames focus your thoughts to a more calm and peaceful place while you let go of your stress. This technique will help you to reset your mind and continue your day with a fresh outlook.

SIDE NOTE: Please do this in a safe place outside, in a metal bucket/fire pit/BBQ and away from anything flammable – have some water to hand in case you need to quickly put the fire out. Make sure everything has cooled down before putting it away!

6. Watch Videos of Animals

Two baby pandas on a wooden surface. One has its head resting on the other's front leg.

Science has shown that watching compilation videos of adorable animals reduces stress by reducing heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety levels. These videos have been seen to induce a more positive emotional state, which then leads to an increased ‘upward spiral’ of positivity. This new level of positivity is highly likely to help you to build resilience to stress and further positive moods. So go give some animal accounts a follow on Instagram, or search for some cute videos on YouTube, and let the animals do the rest!

Let us know which of these techniques you try out and which technique works best for you!