Stress Relief Techniques for Each Type of 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.

If you’re like many people, you may feel that certain stress relief techniques don’t work for you while others work quite well. When a technique is ineffective, it’s usually for one of two reasons: either it is a poor match for your personality, or it doesn’t suit the situation.

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

Highly Effective Stress Relievers

Stress Relief Techniques for Each Type of Stress

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, this 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. These stress relievers can help you relax and recover more quickly from acute stress:

  • Breathing exercises: Breath-work is great for acute stress because it works quickly.
  • Cognitive re-framing: Cognitive re-framing helps you learn to change the way you look at a situation to manage your stress levels.
  • Mini-meditation: A quick, five-minute meditation session 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. It might stem from loneliness, a difficult job, or a past trauma. 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 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: Research has found that exercise can reduce stress and negative emotions. However, people tend to exercise less when they are coping with stress. Getting more regular physical activity can improve coping and overall well-being.
  • Listening to music: Music can act as a stress-reducing backdrop to everyday tasks. One study found that listening to music was effective at lowering subjective stress levels.
  • 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 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.

  • Let music aid you: Music can help relax your mind and body. If you are experiencing stress, try listening to music that you find relaxing. Evidence suggests that it may help you recover from stress more quickly.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help keep you rooted in the present moment.
  • Talk to a friend: Relationships with friends can offer several different types of social support. In addition to emotional support, friends can provide advice (informational support) and assist you with tasks you are struggling with (practical support).
  • 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: Research has found that writing in a journal can be useful for reducing stress levels. Expressive writing, for example, is one way to sort through stressful experiences you might be having. Gratitude journaling, which involves focusing on things you are thankful for, can be particularly beneficial.


Burnout is the result of the prolonged chronic stress in situations that leave people feeling a lack of control in their lives. Certain job conditions can create a greater risk of burnout, including a high level of demands, unclear expectations, lack of recognition for achievements, and a high risk of negative consequences for mistakes.

In addition to the strategies that work well for chronic stress and emotional stress, the following strategies can help you to come back from a state of burnout—or prevent it entirely:

  • Get more enjoyment out of your current job: If you landed a job you don’t love, all is not lost. Learn how to make your job more fulfilling. For example, you might try re-framing how you think about your current job. Think of it as an opportunity to try something new and gain new skills and experience that may help you eventually find a job that you’ll truly love.
  • Spend time on hobbies you enjoy: Don’t wait until your life calms down to engage in your hobbies. Leisure activities and hobbies are essential for managing stress. Doing things you love boosts your mental health, making you better equipped to deal with life’s daily hassles.
  • Maintain a sense of humor: Use laughter to bring joy into your day and increase your overall health. Not only can it help you feel better in the moment—but laughter can also build stronger resilience to stress.
  • Take some time off: A little time away from the stresses of daily life can leave you feeling refreshed and better equipped to handle stress. Taking a break—whether it’s a mental health day, staycation, or vacation—can help reduce stress levels and improve your ability to function well.

Finding the right stress relief strategy for your specific needs may take some trial and error. In some cases, you may find that you need to use several different strategies in order to keep your stress levels in check.

The great thing about many of these strategies is that they become even more effective once you make them a regular part of your life. Short-term stress relievers like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can become even more effective when you are also engaging in other supportive strategies such as exercising regularly and cultivating a strong social support system.