9 Holistic Ways to Reduce Stress

Holistic Ways to Reduce Stress

If stress is wearing you down, you’re far from alone. In 2023, 58% of American adults reported experiencing long-term stress—an increase of 10% since 2019. The same group also saw a significant increase in mental health diagnoses, from 31% in 2019 to 45% in 2023.

When you’re stressed, your body releases a myriad of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which trigger your natural fight-or-flight response. This response evolved to protect you from danger, preparing you to run away or fight off whatever threatens you.

While occasional stress is to be expected in life, experiencing chronic stress can create long-term issues, for both your physical and mental health. Long-term exposure to stress is associated with all sorts of less-than-ideal effects, including:

  • Wide-scale inflammation
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Memory and concentration impairment

In an ideal situation, stress management would involve removing the stressor entirely. However, this isn’t always practical. Things like work, school, and daily obligations can all be sources of stress that can’t always be removed.

While you can’t always eliminate your stressors, you can learn to reduce the stress you feel. By tapping into natural stress relief techniques, you take yourself out of fight-or-flight mode, overriding the stress hormones to return yourself to homeostasis. In a calmer state, everything feels a bit more manageable.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques for Stress Reduction

One of the first lines of defense against stress is mindfulness. Mindfulness refers to a state of quiet, judgment-free awareness of what’s happening around you and how you feel. It helps you identify and acknowledge your feelings, which in turn, helps you process them instead of lashing out or letting the stress spill into other aspects of your life.

For example, if you’re stressing out about bills or your job, you might normally start getting snappier with those around you. When you’re mindful, you can acknowledge the sensations in your body as being related to stress, and you can choose not to act upon them.

Pairing mindfulness with relaxation techniques helps reduce stress by calming the body. With mindfulness, you’ll know when you need to use the techniques, which trigger a relaxation response. This encourages slower breathing, which reduces the heart rate and blood pressure. You’re left feeling more in control and with a clearer mind.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing works to combat stress in several ways, from improving oxygenation to slowing the heartbeat and stabilizing blood pressure. The key, though, is to ensure you’re engaging in diaphragmatic (belly) breathing.

The focus on your breathing to maintain the correct pattern also helps you enter a state of mindfulness, which further soothes the feeling of stress. The simplest way to engage in deep breathing is to breathe in through your nose for three to five seconds, hold it for about the same length, then slowly exhale through the mouth for about three to five seconds.


Visualization works by diverting your attention from the stressors that make your mind race. Instead, you’ll focus on soothing images in your mind’s eye. It’s particularly useful if stress leaves you unable to sleep at night.

Settle in somewhere comfortable and close your eyes. Think of a place where you felt relaxed and at ease, painting as clear a mental picture of it as possible.

If visualization on your own is a bit tough, consider guided meditations. You can find them for free all over YouTube. Set up some headphones, lean back, and follow the gentle prompts.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) releases tension built up over time throughout your body when you’re under chronic stress. Like visualization, it’s a great option to soothe yourself before bed, but it can be done anywhere and any time.

To do this, you’ll tense up and relax each part of your body. Start from your head or toes and work your way to the opposite end, tensing up the muscles one set at a time for a few seconds before releasing them. Like guided visualization, you can find guides for progressive muscle relaxation online as well that will teach you the basics.

Music, Dance, or Art Therapy

Music, dance, and art therapies all engage the creative parts of your mind while keeping you from dwelling on stressors that are weighing you down. They’re known to improve mood and alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms.

You don’t even have to go to a specialized therapist or be particularly skilled to reap the benefits. Pick up that pencil or blast your favorite song and see what comes naturally.


Meditation has been used for thousands of years for its relaxing, mind-calming effects. To meditate, you’ll silence your mind and focus on just one thing, whether it’s breathing or a specific thought or feeling. Other thoughts are quietly pushed away whenever they arise to distract you.

Focusing specifically on something that soothes you during your meditation can help alleviate feelings of stress. It reduces the physical symptoms and negative feelings.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits for Overall Wellness

Just as stress can lead to physical symptoms and unhealthiness, unhealthy lifestyles can also worsen feelings of stress. After all, your physical and mental health and well-being are intricately linked together.

The good news is that holistic approaches to stress reduction can create a lasting impact, encouraging overall wellness. These healthy lifestyle habits help with managing stress holistically and are simple to implement.

Incorporating Physical Activity and Exercise into Daily Routines

Exercise naturally reduces stress hormones like cortisol. At the same time, it increases endorphins, the hormones responsible for relieving pain and making you feel good.

Regular exercise helps combat many of the long-term effects of stress, including reducing tension, elevating the mood, and improving sleep. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, even just five minutes of aerobics can produce an anti-anxiety effect.

Eating Healthily

Your diet matters more than your weight and physical health. Eating healthy foods can boost your mood, especially when it’s full of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins. They reduce inflammation while also boosting your immune system to lessen overall physical stress on the body.

Prioritize a well-balanced diet while cutting out stress-exacerbating foods like those full of sugar and calories that can leave you feeling worn down. Alcohol and caffeine can also worsen the stress response and should be kept to a minimum.

Maintaining a Good Work-Life Balance

Some people fall into the habit of spending too much time at work. It’s hard to say “no” when your boss requests extra work or asks you to stay late. Or, if you’re a freelancer or self-employed, you might struggle with keeping boundaries between work and life. All of this can exacerbate stress, especially if you feel like you’re spending more time at work than with family.

Try setting some basic boundaries to keep your work-life balance in check, like:

  • Set times for work and home life, and keep them separate.
  • Leave work emails and calls for the work day.
  • Let things wait if they can.

Clean Up Your Sleep Hygiene

Stress can lead to insomnia, which can cause more stress. When you don’t get enough sleep, cortisol levels can rise. Ideally, you’ll get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly to keep your hormones in check and your body performing in optimum condition. Try implementing these tricks to clean up your sleep hygiene:

  • Have consistent sleep and wake-up times, even on weekends.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and comfortable.
  • Leave screens out of the bedroom.
  • Skip caffeine, alcohol, and large meals in the few hours before bedtime.
  • Set up a predictable sleep routine that cues your body for rest.

Take a Holistic Approach to Stress Management

Your health is one of the most important investments you’ll make. Unfortunately, stress can put a big strain on your well-being. That’s where holistic stress reduction methods come into play. These methods help you take control of your life and lifestyle to help you better manage stress levels—which in turn helps put you in a better position to solve the problems that were causing the stress in the first place.

If you feel overwhelmed with life’s daily stressors after implementing these changes, it may be time to seek out professional assistance. Contact us at (855) 861-8440 to get started.