How To Reduce Stress And Anxiety In 10 Steps

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated April 10, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Feelings of stress and anxiety are normal to experience from time to time. If you’re not showing signs of a diagnosable anxiety disorder or other mental health disorders—for which meeting with a mental health professional is recommended—there are techniques you can try to manage these feelings in your daily life. Even if you are living with a diagnosed anxiety disorder, the 10 techniques below may be helpful to your emotional well-being in conjunction with professional support.

These and other stress-management techniques may help improve your daily functioning. They may also help you decrease the risk of long-term potential consequences of chronic stress, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. So if you're wondering how to lower stress levels and cope with stress that inevitably occurs in life, check out the 10 steps we’ve outlined here.

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Do stress and anxiety make you feel overwhelmed or lost?

1. Plan ahead when possible to help relieve stress

Situations that trigger the stress response are often repetitive. If you’ve noticed some of these in your life, it could be helpful to implement plans or techniques that may help you better manage them when they arise. 

For instance, if you frequently feel stressed by housework piling up, it could be helpful to design a system where you do one or two small chores each day. If you live with a partner, family member, or roommate, you could also discuss the division of chores with them or ask for help in certain areas. As a result, you may be able to prevent some of the stress and overwhelm that often comes from this predictable source.

2. Tweak your morning routine to benefit your mental health

A positive morning routine can set the mood for the entire day. Plus, routines in general can be powerful planning tools that may help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your well-being overall. What your routine consists of depends on your needs and your lifestyle. That said, here are some components to consider including that may improve health and help you manage stress and the way stress affects you:

In general, focusing on adding in healthy habits and avoiding or limiting unhealthy habits in your routines can be most helpful.

3. Aim to get more high-quality sleep

On your journey to learning how to relieve stress, it may be helpful to evaluate your sleeping habits. Not getting enough sleep could be contributing to your stress levels. Feeling tired or low energy could exacerbate stress as well.

If you’re not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, it may help to add some sleep hygiene practices to your routine. These may help you fall asleep faster and get better-quality rest. Some examples of good sleep hygiene strategies include:

  • Going to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time each day 
  • Engaging in a regular exercise routine during the day
  • Avoiding screen use before bed
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evenings
  • Sleeping in a quiet, dark, cool space
  • Trying progressive muscle relaxation techniques to help release any muscle tension before sleep 

4. Explore supplements

Some people find It helpful to take certain supplements as a form of integrative health to decrease stress. For instance, melatonin could help you fall asleep, which may promote better rest and some stress relief. Or, research suggests that taking a B-complex vitamin(s) may help improve mood and decrease feelings associated with the body’s stress response. 

Remember that supplements can have side effects and interactions with other medications; they’re not right for everyone. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting or stopping any type of medication or supplement. 

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5. Designate some "me time"

While social support is considered to be important for overall health and well-being, as we’ll discuss below, regularly spending time alone to recharge can also be beneficial. It can give you the chance to process your experiences, check in with yourself emotionally and physically, and stimulate the relaxation response without any demands on your time or attention. 

You might do this for half an hour before bed each night, for an afternoon each week, or whatever may work for your needs and your schedule. You could sit on a park bench and reflect or journal, take a warm bath, read a book, go for a walk, or do anything else that may make you feel relaxed and connected with yourself.

6. Lean on your support system

When you’re feeling anxious, reaching out to a friend or family member could help you find some stress relief. Whether you vent about your stressors or talk about something else to take your mind off your troubles, you might find that your mood is improved by the end of the conversation. Plus, research suggests that having strong social connections may actually increase stress resilience.

Another option to consider is joining a support group. This way, you can be surrounded by people who have experience with the specific stressors you’re facing and understand what you're going through. For example, if you’re feeling stressed due to the demands of parenting, physical symptoms of chronic pain, or caring for an elderly relative, you could join an online or in-person group of people in a similar situation for support.

7. Listen to music

If you’re experiencing high stress levels, don’t underestimate the power of music to help you shift your mood and relax. Research suggests that listening to music can qualify as a “recovery activity” after a stressful period. It seems that the type of music may matter less than the way it makes you feel. Simply listening to songs you enjoy could have a positive effect. If you’re in the mood, you could also dance to the music to get the added, mood-boosting benefit of the release of endorphins and the decrease of stress hormones that can come from physical activity.

8. Take a break

While reducing or eliminating a certain stressor isn’t always possible, stepping away or taking a break from stressful situations sometimes is. Taking a day or an afternoon off work, finding a babysitter or family member to cover childcare for an evening, or getting a massage or sitting in a hot tub for some relief from the stress of chronic pain are a few examples. Doing something to pause or change up a stressful routine—even in a small way—could help you find some relief and increase your resilience.

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Do stress and anxiety make you feel overwhelmed or lost?

9. Meditate to counteract the stress response

Meditation is an ancient spiritual practice that originated in Asia and has since been adopted by many people worldwide due to its many potential health benefits. For instance, a recent study suggests that daily meditation can be as helpful as a common anxiety medication in reducing symptoms of anxiety. It may also help improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and produce other possible benefits.

There are many different ways to practice this complementary and integrative health technique, so exploring apps and videos online may help you find one that works for you. Or, you could start with a simple practice of closing your eyes, engaging in deep breathing, becoming aware of your body, and watching your thoughts in a nonjudgmental manner for a few minutes.

10. Reach out for help

If you’re looking for additional support with managing feelings of stress and anxiety, it could be worth reaching out to a mental health professional like a therapist. They can help you identify your core stressors, reframe negative thoughts that may be contributing to your stress, get tips on how to avoid unhealthy habits, and find effective ways to manage distress and anxiety. If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of any anxiety disorders, they can help you address these as well.

In general, you can attend therapy sessions in person or online. If you’re experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, you may find it easier and more convenient to connect with a therapist virtually from the comfort of your home. An online therapy platform like BetterHelp can match you with a licensed mental health professional and empower you to get the help you deserve from any location where you have an internet connection.

Research suggests that online therapy for anxiety can typically create “equivalent overall effects” to in-person therapy for anxiety. That means you can typically feel confident in choosing whichever format you prefer.


Wondering how to reduce stress and anxiety? There are many different strategies you can try that may bring some relief. Listening to music, meditating, designating time for self-care, and getting plenty of sleep are a few examples. If you find that you need more personalized insight and guidance, you may benefit from meeting with a therapist online or in person.
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