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Stress Awareness Month

Stress Relief Techniques for Every Type of Stress

If you're like many people, you may feel that certain stress relief techniques don’t work for you while others work quite well. Often the techniques that don’t seem to work for a particular person are ineffective for one of two reasons: either they are a poor match for the person's personality, or for the situation.

For example, breathing exercises can effectively relieve stress, but may not be a powerful enough technique to be the sole coping strategy for someone experiencing caregiver stress, chronic job stress, or another type of chronically-occurring stress.

There are so many different ways to relieve stress that sometimes finding the right technique for your personality and situation may seem overwhelming, or at least like more work than you want to tackle when you're already feeling stressed.

Finding stress relievers that work for you, however, can be well worth the effort. Whether you have a few techniques that work for you and are just looking to add one or two, or need to overhaul your way of dealing with stress and create a whole new system, the following list can help. These stress relief techniques are grouped according to various categories you may be looking at when deciding how to best manage your stress.

Acute Stress

Acute stress is the type of stress that throws you off-balance momentarily. This is the type of stress that comes on quickly and often unexpectedly and doesn’t last too long, but shakes you up a bit and requires a response, like an argument with someone in your life, or an exam for which you don’t feel adequately prepared.

Your body's stress response is triggered with acute stress, but you can reverse it with quick relaxation techniques, and then go back to your day feeling less stressed again. These stress relievers can help you relax and recover more quickly from acute stress:

  • Breathing exercises: Breathwork is great for acute stress because it works quickly.
  • Cognitive reframing: Cognitive reframing helps you learn to change the way you look at the situation to manage your stress levels.
  • Mini-meditation: A quick, five-minute meditation technique can help you to calm down in the moment.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR): Like breathing exercises, PMR will give you a moment to regroup and relax.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is the type of stress that tends to occur on a regular basis.1 This type of stress may leave you feeling drained, and can lead to burnout if it’s not effectively managed.

When the stress response is chronically triggered and the body is not brought back to a relaxed state before the next wave of stress hits, the body can stay triggered indefinitely. 

Managing this type of stress often requires a combination approach, with some short-term stress relievers (like those for acute stress) and some long-term stress relief habits that relieve overall stress. Different emotion-focused coping techniques and solution-focused coping techniques are important for chronic stress as well.

The following long-term habits can help you to better manage general stress that you may feel from the chronic stressors in your life:

Cultivating supportive relationships: Having a solid support system is a crucial coping mechanism. Online support groups can also be a great way to connect with people who are facing the same challenges.

  • Exercising regularly: Exercise and stress management are closely linked for several reasons.
  • Listening to music: Music can act as a wonderful, stress-reducing backdrop to everyday tasks.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet: Fueling your body well can help with overall stress levels because your entire system will function better.
  • Meditating regularly: While quick meditations are great for dealing with acute stress, a regular meditation practice will help build your overall resilience to stress.
  • Online therapy: Internet-based therapy can be an accessible and convenient way to find stress relief. Your therapist can also help you work on other coping skills that will help you manage feelings of chronic stress.

Emotional Stress

The pain of emotional stress can hit harder than some other types of stress.

For example, the stress that comes from a conflicted relationship tends to bring a greater physical reaction and a stronger sense of distress than the stress that comes from being busy at work.

Therefore, it is important to be able to manage emotional stress in effective ways. Strategies that help you to process, diffuse, and build resilience toward emotional stress can all work well, and different approaches can work in different situations.

Here are some ways to manage emotional stress.

  • Let music aid you: Music can help relax your mind and body.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help keep you rooted in the present moment.
  • Talk to a friend: Learn about the several different types of social support friends can offer you.
  • Talk to a therapist: A therapist can help you identify the source of your emotional stress as well as which strategies and techniques may help you best combat your stress.
  • Write in a journal: There are several different journaling strategies to try, all with benefits.


Burnout is the result of the prolonged chronic stress of situations that leave people feeling a lack of control in their lives. Certain conditions of a job can create a greater risk of burnout, including not only a high level of demands, but also unclear expectations, lack of recognition for achievements, and a high level of risk of negative consequences when mistakes are made.