Wellness·4 min read

How to Manage Stress

How to Manage Stress
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
October 30, 2020

Psst...This guide about how to work snacks that make your mind and body happy into your routine is part of our How to Skimm Your Life New Year's Challenge. Go here to view all of our challenges and click "Day 14" to let us know if you completed this one.

Help me de-stress.

Deep breaths (more on that below). The typical recommendations don’t always work for managing stress. Skimm HQ’rs have tried a lot of different methods over the years. Here are some of our favorites.

Breathing in and out

  • Body scan meditation…Focus on the parts to de-stress the whole. First, lie down or sit comfortably in a chair and breathe. Moving toe to head or head to toe, focus on how each body part feels in the moment. Spend around 20 seconds on each body part, paying attention to any pain, tension, sensations, or thoughts associated with each one. Just that little bit of TLC goes a long way.

  • Lion’s breath...Breathe in through your nose. Then open your mouth as wide as possible, stick out your tongue, and exhale forcefully with a ‘ha’ sound. You’re gonna be a mighty and de-stressed king.  

  • Guided imagery…Aka free travel. Imagining you’re in a calm setting can help you relax and cope with stress. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Think of a soothing scene or memory that’s peaceful to you. Feeling the sun on your face and smelling salt in the air? Use all five senses to add detail to your image and put you into the space. 

  • Exercise...Sorry, had to. It might seem obvious, but exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. They’re your body’s natural painkillers. Start with thirty minutes, five times a week. Some of the best exercises for releasing tension include yoga, tai chi, and pilates, but find a personal preference that works (out) for you.

 Eating away your stress 

  • Vitamin C...Foods like oranges and other citrus fruits (almost anything you’d find on a summer dress print) can help lower your cortisol levels and blood pressure. 

  • Magnesium...The nutrient can help reduce stress, headaches, and fatigue, plus improve sleep quality. You’ll find lots of it in healthy foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, and nuts including almonds, cashews, and peanuts. 

  • Complex carbs...can solve complex problems. Whole grains, veggies, and legumes help increase the brain’s serotonin production. It's the calming chemical that also helps stabilize blood pressure. 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids...Fatty fish (like tuna and salmon) and nuts and seeds (like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts) help reduce anxiety. And bonus: they’re tasty.

Tossing the bad

  • Start small...Focus on one area at a time—that might not be your whole kitchen, but one corner of your kitchen. Even if everything sparks joy, getting rid of a few things and organizing what’s left is proven to reduce stress. Because a decluttered space can equal a decluttered mind. 

  • 12-12-12 challenge...One that a few Skimm HQ’rs swear by. Find 12 items to donate, 12 items to throw away, and 12 items to return to their proper place in your space. You’re doing great already. 

  • The 90/90 rule...Ask yourself, “Have I used this item in the last 90 days? Will I definitely use it in the next 90?” If the answer to both questions is no, throw it out or give it away. Remember: less stuff, less stress. 

  • The ex test...A maybe silly but definitely effective mind game. Ask yourself, “Would I contact an ex I hate to get this item back?” and “Would I feel confident running into an ex if I were wearing this?” If not, you know the answer (Get. Rid. Of. It.). 

  • The hanger trick...Another HQ fave. In your closet, flip all your hangers one way. When you wear something, flip the hanger the other way. After six months, get rid of stuff that never changes. 

  • Pack it up (in your head)...Pretend you’re moving and have to box everything up, transport it, and unpack it. What would you keep? What would you throw away? Hint: that piece of paper with vague instructions on it from two years ago doesn’t make the cut.


Stress is normal, but letting it run your life isn’t. Whether it’s how you’re breathing, what you’re eating, or the things you’re throwing away, there are actionable ways to get a handle on your stress.

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