6 Quick Ways To Relieve Stress & Boost Your Mood

Restful Life
4 min read

Relieve stress quickly with these natural stress busters and feel better straight away!

Stress is essential to your survival. Your brain and body has evolved to respond quickly to danger. Which means stress is a natural feeling in response to threat.

But that’s hardly helpful news when you’re feeling completely overwhelmed by modern day demands.

With the pressures from work, relationships, systemic oppression, financial worries or a global pandemic - chronic stress undermines your mental and physical health.

Under these conditions, practicing restful self-care is vital to overcome anxiety, depression and overwhelm.

Why Does Being Calm Improve Your Mood?

Pie chart showing the different moods associated with nervous system arousal and valence

In psychological terms, affect is the underlying experience of your mood. And your affective state depends on two main factors: valence and arousal.

Valence is a spectrum from pleasant to unpleasant. Arousal is a measure of nervous system activation.

Feel agitated? You have high arousal and unpleasant valence.

Feeling bored? That’s low arousal and unpleasant valence.

Contented? You have low arousal and pleasant valence.

Every emotion you feel falls within this spectrum.

And this is important because once you know where you are on the spectrum, you can take action to reduce your stress and boost your mood.

When you’re feeling low in energy, do something that will increase your nervous system arousal. Feeling overwhelmed by stress? Decrease your arousal with calming activities.

And boost your mood by increasing your valence from unpleasant to pleasant.

Stuck for ideas?

Here are 6 Quick Ways To Relieve Stress & Boost Your Mood

1. Breathwork

decreases arousal & increases valence for calm

When you’re stressed your breathing becomes shallow and fast. But breathwork is about consciously using your breath to calm yourself down.

When you focus on exhaling deeply, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

The PNS is the calming arm of your nervous system and helps you:

  • decrease alertness
  • feel calmer
  • digest food, and
  • lower your heart rate

When you start to feel tension rising, try exhaling for twice as long as you inhale.

To begin, simply inhale for a count of 2 and exhale for a count of 4. Repeat for a few rounds until you feel your body relax and your mind ease. Animation of inhaling for a count of 2 and exhaling for a count of 4

2. Active Play

increases arousal & increases valence for happiness

Virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. Physical activity increases your brain’s production of euphoric ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters called endorphins.

The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. You could try yoga, Pilates, dancing or Tai Chi.

You could even jump on a trampoline with your kids, play fetch with your dog, or throw a frisbee with friends.

If you have limited mobility, exercising in water can be especially beneficial as it supports the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort.

Get moving in any way you can and feel the stress melt away.

3. Do a puzzle

decreases arousal & increases valence for contentment

A box of a Whiled puzzle on a beige mat with a yellow bowl of green puzzle pieces in the corner

Our brains love patterns and problem solving. And puzzles give you both - as you search for the right pieces, and as you piece together the larger picture.

Because puzzles require a certain level of concentration your brain is creating a mindful moment. So for many people, doing a jigsaw puzzle feels like meditation.

And with each puzzle piece successfully placed, you get a hit of dopamine which soothes the brain. This rewarding neurotransmitter reaches its peak with the puzzle’s completion.

There are so many different types of jigsaw puzzles available these days, so you can easily find an image that speaks to you. Our current fave puzzles are from Whiled with their bold, modern artistic prints. Or hunt for some vintage puzzles at your local thrift store for a bargain.

4. Listen to Meditones

decreases arousal & increases valence for calm

Meditones® help you produce calm brainwaves, effortlessly.

When two frequencies of sound are combined they make a humming vibration. And when you listen to this vibration with a pair of headphones? The left and right hemispheres of the brain work in unison to create calm brain waves. Similar to ones you produce during relaxation and sleep.

Graph of 5 seconds of Theta brain waves and their benefits

These frequencies are called binaural beats and their results are completely backed by science. And we combine binaural beats with contemporary ambient music, to create meditones. Which makes them an amazing tool for quickly calming down.

Because they make you calm without you having to do a thing. Just listen with headphones, and the meditones effect occurs naturally and easily.

Access a growing library of meditones with the Restful app. There’s even a Mood Booster playlist. Download your free trial today on Google Play or the App Store.

5. Watch a comedy

increases arousal & increases valence for happiness

Laughing reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals). Which makes watching comedies an underrated form of stress relief.

There’s no shortage of material. You could search for comedy on Netflix. You could find comedy podcasts to listen to, or even search your local comedy clubs for a fun night out.

6. Stabilise your blood sugar

decreases arousal & increases valence for contentment

Blue plate of salad and an avocado on a wooden table

Low blood sugar makes you moody. Because it’s pretty hard to feel calm and resilient when you’re buffeted by waves of hunger and exhaustion. It’s called ‘hangry’ for a reason.

Blood sugar is also known as glucose. Without enough glucose, your body can’t perform its normal functions.

Symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • mood swings
  • nervousness
  • sudden fatigue
  • headaches
  • trouble concentrating

To stabilise blood sugar, eat regularly and embrace healthy fats - nuts, avocado, eggs, cheese and fatty fish. Meals and snacks high in healthy fats and protein help you feel sated and stabilise your blood sugar.

Note: hypoglycemia from diabetes or medication can be very dangerous. If someone is having a severe reaction, such as unconsciousness, contact emergency services immediately.


Your mood is always based on valence and arousal. So by managing these two factors, you can more easily reduce stress and feel good.

Managing stress can often feel like a full time job. But with these quick fixes, hopefully becoming calm will feel easier and a lot more fun.