By Rachel Lankester, Editor

Midlife can be a challenging time, filled with transitions and responsibilities that can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. Menopause can make it all worse can’t it! Often anxiety is the first thing to raise its head as our hormones start to change. And then we get more stressed about feeling anxious. If only we knew more about what’s going on and could take a step back to relieve the emotional intensity of day to day life. That’s where our stress busters come in.

stress busters

We went looking for some of the best ways to relieve stress. Because we know how important it is to get a handle on it. It’s the silent killer and being in a constant state of high stress is not good for our overall health and wellbeing. And with the world as it is at the moment, we all need help! That’s where easy stress busters become so important – your toolkit to combat stress. Here are 30 different strategies to help you navigate stress in midlife.

1. Walking

So simple but so effective. Go for a walk! Walking is a simple yet effective way to relieve stress. When you walk, your body releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Additionally, the rhythmic motion of walking can help calm your mind and reduce feelings of anxiety. Being outdoors and surrounded by nature while walking can further enhance the stress-relieving benefits, providing a sense of tranquility and connection to the environment. 

2. Volunteer Work

Giving back is a great way to relieve stress and promote good mental health. Why not engage in some community work at a local charity or community organization. Helping others can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, reducing stress in the process.

3. Pet Therapy

Animals are a great stress buster! Spend quality time with pets or consider adopting a furry companion. The companionship and unconditional love of animals can be incredibly soothing during times of stress. Borrow My Doggy is a great way to get some pet therapy without the commitment. 

4. Coloring Books for Adults

Adult coloring books have gained popularity for their therapeutic benefits. You can’t be thinking about anything else if you’re coloring in a tricky design. Why not try coloring in some intricate designs as a calming and creative outlet.

5. Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique)

Explore tapping therapy, also known as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which involves tapping on specific acupressure points while focusing on distressing thoughts and emotions to alleviate stress. This simple techique is remarkably powerful for relieving stress having an immediate calming impact on the nervous system.

6. Aromatherapy

I love aromatherapy! I find it so relaxing. Experiment with essential oils known for their stress-relieving properties, such as lavender, chamomile, and frankincense. Use them in diffusers, baths, or massage oils to promote relaxation. Here’s my pick of some favorite blends for your diffuser

7. Journaling 

I find journaling so powerful for relieving stress. Just getting everything out onto the page means it’s out of your head, rather than spinning around in it!  On of the easiest, most accessible stress busters. You can explore journaling prompts specifically tailored to midlife challenges, such as reflecting on past accomplishments, envisioning future aspirations, and exploring personal growth opportunities. Writing out an affirmation of how great you are is also very helpful! As is jotting down things you are grateful for. 

8. Reading

Getting lost in a good book can be a great stress buster. Use literature as a form of therapy by reading books that resonate with your midlife experiences, offer inspiration, or provide practical strategies for coping with stress and life transitions. Here are some great suggestions for books to lose yourself in.

9. Nature

Nature is the best natural stress buster! If you can’t easily get out in nature, surround yourself with indoor plants and greenery to incorporate biophilic design elements into your living and working spaces. Instant calm. 

10.  Pottery

Try kneading some clay! Pottery offers a multi-pronged attack on stress. Focusing on shaping the clay pulls your attention away from worries, while the tactile sensation provides a calming sensory experience.  Plus, the creative process can be engrossing, leading to a state of flow where stress melts away. 

11. Dancing

Turn up the music and dance in your kitchen – an instant mood booster. Take up dance classes like salsa, tango, or swing dancing to enjoy the benefits of physical activity, social interaction, and rhythmic movement for stress relief and mood enhancement.

12. Knitting

Knitting is a very relaxing activity whose repetitive motions can have a calming effect, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Focusing on the rhythm of knitting can also distract from negative thoughts, providing a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as you see your project progress. Plus, the tangible outcome of a finished product can bring a huge sense of achievement.

13. Expressive Arts Therapy

Getting creative is great for stress. Rediscover your creative side with expressive arts therapy techniques, like painting, sketching, or improvisational movement, to explore emotions, reduce stress, and foster self-expression.

14. Forest Bathing

Practice Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese art of forest bathing, by immersing yourself in nature and mindfully engaging with the natural environment to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It doesn’t need to be a forest even. Just find yourself a friendly tree and sit down beneath it. 

15. Energy Healing 

Why not explore alternative healing modalities like Reiki, acupuncture, or crystal healing to balance energy, release tension, and promote emotional well-being. Anyone else have a new midlife crystal obsession? Oh, just me. Ah well!

16. Mental challenges

A mental challenge can stop you worrying about other stuff. Engage in activities that challenge cognitive rigidity and promote flexibility, such as learning a new language, practicing improvisational theater, or solving puzzles and riddles. Sudoku anyone?

17. Laughing Yoga

Yes it’s really a thing! Why not take part in laughter yoga sessions, where simulated laughter is combined with deep breathing exercises to reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being.

18. Sound Healing

Explore the therapeutic effects of sound baths, where participants are immersed in resonant sounds and vibrations from instruments like crystal singing bowls, gongs, and Tibetan singing bowls to induce relaxation and meditation. You might find one of these at your local yoga center. 

19. Mindful Eating Practices

Practice mindful eating by savoring each bite, paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, and cultivating a non-judgmental awareness of food choices to reduce stress-related eating behaviors. This is a great way to regularly slow the mind down and can easily become part of your daily routine. 

20. Breathwork Techniques

Breathwork can be incredibly soothing. Why not explore breathwork techniques, such as pranayama, holotropic breathwork, or the Wim Hof Method, to regulate stress responses, increase relaxation, and enhance overall well-being. I discovered Transformational Breathing and Breathguru a few years ago and his app is very powerful. 

21. Sweat Lodges or Sauna Therapy

 Participate in sweat lodge ceremonies or sauna sessions to induce sweating, release toxins, and promote relaxation through heat therapy. Check out your local pool to see if it has a sauna and steam room. 

22. Feldenkrais Method

Explore the Feldenkrais Method, a somatic educational approach that uses gentle movement and awareness exercises to improve movement efficiency, reduce pain, and enhance well-being.

23. Dreamwork

Engage in dreamwork practices, such as keeping a dream journal, interpreting dream symbols, or participating in dream groups, to gain insight into subconscious thoughts and emotions, reducing stress and promoting self-awareness.

24. Meditation

Learn meditation and practice it regularly. It’s phenomenally good for us and a super healthy way to reduce stress levels consistently. There are numerous videos and apps on the market to make this easy for you. Here’s a look at mindfulness mediation with the founder of the Headspace app. Isha Kriya is also a really nice recorded mantra meditation to try. Transcendental Meditation (TM), which involve silently repeating a mantra can help you achieve a state of deep relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance clarity of mind.

25. Sensory Deprivation Tanks

Not easily available, but if there’s one near you, why not try sensory deprivation tank therapy, where you float in a tank filled with saltwater in complete darkness and silence. This immersive experience can induce deep relaxation and mental clarity.

26. Thalassotherapy

If you have the ocean nearby, take advantage of the therapeutic benefits of seawater by swimming in the ocean, soaking in seaweed baths, or indulging in seawater-based spa treatments to relax and rejuvenate.

27. Laughing Therapy

Simple huh. But laughter is the best medicine! Dedicate time to watching comedy shows, funny movies, or attend stand-up comedy events to boost your mood and relieve stress. Have a good laugh with friends or a close family member. Good for you and good for them too. 

28. Horse Therapy

Fancy a little horse time? Why not take part in equine-assisted therapy sessions, where interactions with horses are used to promote emotional awareness, self-confidence, and stress reduction.

29. Float Therapy

Not always easily available but if it is, why not try float therapy sessions in sensory deprivation tanks filled with Epsom salt water, which allows for effortless floating, deep relaxation, and stress relief.

30. Hydrotherapy

Take advantage of hydrotherapy treatments like contrast showers, hot baths, or hydro-massage to improve circulation, relax muscles, and alleviate stress-related tension.

We hope you like our selection of stress busters. Midlife can be a stressful time and it’s really important to get a handle on our stress so we don’t end up being made ill by it. Finding what works best for you may need some experimentation, so be open to trying new approaches and prioritizing self-care and a general strong sense of well-being.

Stress Busters Summary

Navigating the complexities of midlife stress requires different approaches. Understanding the stress response and its implications on our health, including its potential links to heart disease and weakened immune systems, is crucial. It’s about finding healthy ways to manage stress in both the short and long term. From forming a good support network of family members, friends, and colleagues to seeking professional help through therapy or support groups, there are many different ways to tackle stressful situations head-on. Engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and ensuring enough sleep are foundational steps towards good stress management.

Incorporating relaxation techniques such as aromatherapy or meditation can help regulate cortisol levels and promote emotional strength. Additionally, finding joy in laughter, enjoying the company of funny friends, or simply taking a long walk in the local park can have positive effects on our mental and physical well-being. Remember, stress-busting techniques are not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one person may not work for another. The first step is to recognize when stress becomes overwhelming and take control of the situation by implementing simple strategies that promote a positive outlook and emotional support.

By prioritizing self-care and adopting smarter means of managing stress, we can make a real difference in our overall health and happiness, ensuring that midlife remains a fulfilling and vibrant chapter of our lives. So, next time stress rears its head, take a deep breath, reach out for help if needed, and know that effective stress busters are within reach.

Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond which was recommended in the New York Times.

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Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Editorial Staff

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