Stop the Stress: 15 Real People Share Their Go-To Relaxation Methods

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: June Bhongjan)

At the end of a long, stressful day, what do you most look forward to? Everyone has a different way of unwinding—for some people it’s plopping down on the couch to watch their favorite show on Netflix, for others, it’s going to the gym or taking a long hot shower. There’s pretty much no limit to how you can relax and de-stress.

We asked people to tell us their favorite ways to relax, so if you don’t have a go-to self-care method, one of these ideas is sure to inspire you.

App-Guided Meditation:

“There are so many options on relaxing that I go to—yoga with my favorite instructors at Equinox (followed by a sauna session), booking an appointment at Drybar, sipping coffee at Kahve in Hell’s Kitchen…but my absolutely favorite is meditation! My coworker turned me on to it with the app Insight Timer, and it is absolutely the best thing. After only a few weeks, I feel lighter, more productive, and dare I say happier! It REALLY works—I recommend guided mediation if you’re a newbie, but any kind of meditation is good I think.”

— Antonia in Manhattan, NY

Crocheting and Knitting:

“I’ve always crocheted, and learned to knit several years ago. It’s how I unwind and release stress and tension built up during the day. It’s a sort of meditation for me….I block out the world and concentrate on counting stitches and the movement of my hands. A lot of people are still alive because I crochet and knit.”

— Christine in Orange, CA

Watching Weird YouTube Videos:

“Lately I’ve been totally obsessed with watching people cut open squishy toys on Youtube—that and the people who make slime. It’s so relaxing! Or people who make miniature sized foods.”

Abby in Camden, ME

Cooking a Grandparent-Approved Dinner:

“A few years ago I found myself in a food dessert in Omaha—there were no real grocery stores anywhere near, so putting together dinner became incredibly stressful. I have since moved back to my home city of Minneapolis, where there are many great grocery stores very close, and as a result the act of making dinner has become weirdly soothing to me after work. I’ve especially been exploring recipes from Eastern Europe—where my grandparents came from—so making dinner has become a little adventure, in that I am sort of traveling through time, to my grandparents dinner tables, and space, to Russia or Belarus or Ukraine. It’s a great way to take my mind off the day of work and get ready to settle in for the evening.”

— Max in Minneapolis, MN

(Image credit: Andrea Obzerova)

Music, Coloring Books and Phone Calls:

I’ve had Fibromyalgia since I was 16, so my process of unwinding/relaxing is crucial—but it also varies each day. What I do: Listen to my favorite musicians that either calm me or just make me happy (i.e. The Lumineers, Sam Cooke, Mumford & Sons, Jack Johnson, etc.). Adult coloring books have recently become one of my favorite ways to unwind after a busy day—I just lay on my bed and get to coloring and after an hour or so I actually feel more relaxed and less stressed after a hectic work day.

I’ll also go for a walk—after 7 or 8pm, when it gets a bit more quiet and less busy outside my building. I just put my headphones in and take a casual walk around the block—or a few blocks—and sometimes that’s all I need to unwind. Or, I’ll take a long shower with music playing on my speakers—sometimes the best way to relax is a nice hot shower and (badly) singing along to my favorite songs. On really bad days I like to give my boyfriend and/or my parents a call. Hearing their voices and positive words after an especially trying day works wonders for me and distracts me from whatever was stressing me out earlier in the day.”

— Lisa in Manhattan, NY

A Playlist and a Hoverboard:

“After an especially long day I like to grab my hoverboard (which I have actually never taken outside) and roam around my home with a specialized playlist I entitled, ‘Entrance Music.’ It’s a fun way to unwind, and whenever I have company over it turns into something pretty entertaining and fun.”

CJ in Los Angeles, CA

Walking in the Park:

“Long walks usually work for me, especially near water or in a park. Prospect Park is great for this.”

Aura in Brooklyn, NY

Going for a Swim:

“Almost every evening, I head to my health club and unwind by swimming laps and doing aqua-calisthenics in the swimming pool, followed by a relaxing hot soak in the jacuzzi. Swimming is great exercise and also a bit of a social gathering as I tend to see the same ‘gym friends’ each day, and we catch up on our lives in the hot tub as the jets are massaging our tense muscles. Afterwards, I may go into the steam room or sauna and indulge in a bit of beauty treatments—facials, applying hair conditioner, exfoliation and lots of moisturizer. I leave rejuvenated and glowing!

— Samuella in Manhattan, NY

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Taking a Hot Bath:

“Taking a nice long hot bath in a dark room with candles is by far the best way I personal relax. A bath is so important for my mental health that when apartment searching it is pretty much my only requirement. Besides the benefits of muscle relaxation and scented candles, I believe a bath is extra helpful since it requires me to unplug from all electronics and actually take some ‘me’ time.”

— Brittany in Miami, FL

Enjoying the View:

“I actually call it Sonia time. I turn off the tv and look out the window (I have a great view) and take in deep breaths and exhale while sitting there and staring out. Sometimes there maybe wine. Sometimes soft spa music. It makes me feel like I’m away somewhere else. I just sit and look. I’m on the 32nd floor and have a lake view on one side and a city view on the other. If I’m looking out at the city I’m enjoying that I’m not busy compared to those people on their way somewhere—for the water side it’s just pure calm.”

— Sonia in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Going Window Shopping:

“I find time to relax by window shopping at local antiques and thrift stores. It is retail therapy without the costs. The shops are a few blocks from my home office so I take about an hour shop and stroll to get away from my computer to recharge. Not mention I get to burn a few calories and catch up with my neighbors.”

— Michiel in Walterboro, SC

(Image credit: Chris Stout-Hazard)

Going for a Drive:

“Personally, I like to take a long drive, with no objective other than to see new things and listen to music. Otherwise, a glass of wine and my best friend are basically the antidote to any stressful day.”

— Brianna in Lancaster, PA

Practicing Tai Chi:

“I am a big fan of Tai Chi, but I also do water aerobics, massage, acupuncture, knitting, reading, hanging out with friends, and watching TV to de-stress. I started learning Tai Chi about 12 years ago and have gotten progressively addicted over the years. I now know the choreography of 2 different forms and I absolutely love it. It is a way to both relax and focus. I even guest teach when the regular backup cannot be there. I have met great people, it has helped my balance, improved my bone density and helped calm my mind. I just love it.”

— Paige in Cambridge, MA

Studying Ballet:

“I’m an amateur ballet dancer. I danced in my youth and took it up again despite having limited time due to having a career and family. Every week I have a private dance lesson with a teacher who is devoted to my goal to improve my technique. I get a wonderful workout, I engage in creative expression, and I leave every class feeling physically and mentally recharged.”

— Ebonee in Washington, D.C.

Playing Video Games:

“Putting in so many hours as an entrepreneur, you can bet relaxation is hard to come by. However, one of the things I do to try and calm myself is play video games. Whether it’s a game on my PS4 or a game on my iPhone, I try to take a couple breaks throughout the day to turn my brain off and play video games. It helps me escape temporarily from the pressures of the day.”

Chris in Houston, TX

Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite way to unwind?