40 Calming Activities to Relax and De-stress


David Em

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Life moves at a fast pace and throws many stressful situations your way. Get ideas for activities to relax, calm down, and de-stress.

Person relaxing on a chair with their legs up.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero.

Stress affects your physical and mental health.

While it’s a part of life, long-term stress has negative consequences.

It leads to illness, fatigue, a lack of productivity, and poor sleep.

Cope with stress with activities to relax. Calming activities help you be present, express gratitude, and be more productive.

The following are the best ways to relax indoors and outdoors.

You’ll also get ideas for calming things to do for groups and couples.

Related: Wind Chimes Meaning and Symbolism

Indoor activities to relax

Whether at home or work, do the following activities to relax indoors.

Some ideas take 5 minutes, and others that take hours.

You can choose an activity that fits your schedule and needs.

1. Take a bath

Person closing their eyes while taking a bath.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

Baths are an excellent way to be still and present.

As you settle into warm water, pleasure and relaxation take over.

It’ll soothe your skin, clear your mind, and relieve muscle pain.

Before bathing, set the mood by turning off or dimming the lights.

Then, play soothing music, add a soak, and keep water on hand.

A 30-minute bath will do wonders for relaxation.

You can bathe shorter or longer depending on how much time you have.

2. Listen to relaxing music

Music can make you calm in a few minutes. Listen to relaxing music to release endorphins in your brain.

Classical, meditation, ambient, and jazz are excellent genres for relaxation.

Music makes you feel good and boosts your mood.

3. Write down your feelings

If you have a lot on your mind, you’ll feel tense. It’s also overwhelming to keep it all in your head.

Write down your feelings and thoughts to relax and relieve stress.

Journaling offers a way to express your feelings without filters.

You’ll feel better after unloading everything that’s on your mind.

It also helps you identify things that cause you stress. You can use it to avoid the triggers.

4. Meditate

Meditation relaxes, relieves stress, and gives inner peace and clarity.

It also makes you present and aware of your thoughts.

There are different types of meditation. Some focus on mindfulness, while others focus on mantras and spirituality.

An easy meditation practice is to close your eyes and focus on your breath.

Sit down in a quiet space and breathe your way to relaxation.

5. Do yoga

Yoga is a practice that focuses on poses, breathing, and quieting the mind.

Some types of yoga will energize you, while others restore and relax.

Also, you can do a flow or focus on one pose.

The best yoga poses to calm your mind are slow and gentle.

Examples include the Garland pose, seated forward bend, child’s pose, and Savasana.

Yoga also makes you more flexible and helps you achieve clarity.

6. Look out a window

Look out the window and stare. Take time to notice what’s going on outside.

It’s a meditative activity that also benefits your vision.

It helps you clear your mind, be more creative, and achieve a state of calm.

Looking out the window makes you present.

It turns your focus away from worries about the future or stressful times of the past.

So, take a break and stare out a window to relax.

7. Get a massage

Massage relieves stress, relaxes your muscles, and clears your mind.

You can do a self-massage or get massage therapy. The types include Swedish, deep tissue, sports, aromatherapy, and hot stone.

Treat yourself to a massage and experience the mental and physical benefits.

8. Draw or color

Person coloring a wolf.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

You don’t need to be artistic to find relaxation in coloring or drawing.

Both are excellent activities to relax your brain.

You can get a coloring book or a piece of paper and begin right away.

Another way to do it is on a tablet, phone, or computer. There are many apps and websites for digital art.

Coloring and drawing make you more creative while soothing you.

Through the activity, you’ll express yourself without rules. It makes you self-aware and present.

Related: The Most Calming Colors

9. Watch something funny

Humor is one of the best ways to relax and relieve stress.

Laughter boosts your mood, stimulates many organs, and releases endorphins.

A funny movie, TV show, or video will take your mind off the things that cause you stress.

10. Read a book

Whether reading fiction or non-fiction, books take you into a different world.

Reading relaxes your body, slows your breath, and lowers your heart rate. So, find a comfortable spot and open a book.

Aside from being a relaxing activity, reading improves your memory, focus, and creativity.

11. Play a relaxing game

Games provide entertainment and fun.

While many games involve groups or speed up your heart rate, there are also solo and relaxing options.

You can play solo board games, online games, or card games.

They’re excellent for soothing your mind and can last several hours.

12. Visit an aquarium

Aquariums are beautiful, educational, and relaxing.

There’s at least one in many cities, making it an accessible activity.

Since it’s indoors, you can visit an aquarium regardless of the weather.

As you walk through one, watch the fish swim and be present.

After a few minutes, you’ll experience calmness and relaxation.

13. Cuddle with a pet

Person hugging a dog.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

Pets, like dogs and cats, are loving and stress-relieving.

When you feel tense, take a moment to cuddle and play with a pet.

It fulfills your need for touch and soothes you immediately.

Pets are wonderful companions and support your mental health.

14. Do a jigsaw puzzle

One of the best activities to relax is working on a jigsaw puzzle.

It’s a calming past-time that’s fun and sharpens your brain.

Since you give your full attention to solving the puzzle, it takes your mind off other things. It’s a way to relieve stress and be present.

It also gives you a sense of accomplishment after completing it.

15. Sing your favorite song

Whether you can carry a tune or not, singing will relieve stress and make you feel calm.

As you sing, your body releases endorphins and boosts your mood. It also benefits your lungs and sharpens your mind.

After finishing, you’ll experience relaxation and happiness.

16. Drink herbal tea

Herbal tea doesn’t have caffeine. You can drink it anytime, as it won’t energize you. Instead, it soothes you with each sip.

Ginger, chamomile, hibiscus, lemon balm, and peppermint are excellent choices.

Find a comfortable place to drink your tea and sip your way to relaxation.

17. Squeeze a stress ball

Stress balls can help you relax because they provide a point of stress release.

They’re therapeutic, as you can squeeze, roll, or toss them.

They also benefit circulation and your hand and forearm muscles.

18. Take a nap

Person taking a nap in a bed.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

The lack of sleep makes you less productive and increases stress. Take a nap for relaxation and restoration.

A short 20-minute nap is ideal. So, set an alarm to avoid sleeping longer.

After waking up, you’ll feel energetic and happy. You’ll also have a clear and calm mind.

19. Revisit memories

Memories fade over time. So, revisit them to remember good times.

It’s a relaxing activity that’ll make you smile.

Look at photos and videos of vacations, family, friends, and other things you document.

Avoid memories of grief and sadness, as they’ll trigger stress.

By focusing on pleasant memories, you’ll feel calm and happy.

20. Knit

Knitting relieves stress and anxiety. It’s a relaxing and fun activity.

As you work with the yarn and needle, you’ll build self-confidence and calm your mind.

There are hundreds of knitting stitches and different difficulty levels.

Start knitting, and it may become your way of relaxing moving forward.

21. Cook

Cooking relieves stress, clears your mind, and soothes your body.

The act of chopping, stirring, or grilling is relaxing.

It’s also a way to boost your creativity and learn new things.

22. Clean your home

Cleaning and organizing your home is relaxing and satisfying.

If you want to relieve stress while being productive, take on cleaning.

A dirty home and clutter make it tough to relax.

You’ll feel renewal, calmness, and a sense of control as you clean.

23. Dance

Person standing on a couch and dancing.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

Dancing will shake off stress and leave you feeling calm.

It’s good for your body and mind to bust a move. Dance is also a way to express yourself and exercise.

You can do ballet, hip-hop dance, jazz dance, or anything you feel like doing.

24. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils to help you relax. You can use a diffuser or rub the oils on your hands to smell it.

Essential oils come from flowers, herbs, bark, and leaves.

The pleasant smells will relax your mind and help you to be present.

25. Use a scalp massager

Scalp massagers have silicone bristles that stimulate your scalp.

You use it in the shower after wetting your hair and applying shampoo.

Work it around your head with small and circular movements.

Take your time and apply as much pressure as comfortable.

It’s a soothing and relaxing activity to do in the shower.

Outdoor activities to relax

Nature is relaxing and beautiful. It’s good for your body and mind.

The following are calming activities to do outside.

Some involve exercise, while you can stay in one spot for others.

1. Go for a walk

Walking is an excellent activity for your physical health. It’s also perfect for relaxing and relieving stress.

As a gentle exercise form, it allows you to be present and appreciate your surroundings.

It also clears your mind and soothes your body. You’ll feel yourself becoming less tense during your walk.

2. Watch a sunrise or sunset

Sunrises and sunsets are beautiful sights.

Find a location to watch a sunrise or sunset to relax and watch the pace of nature. It encourages you to be present, still, and in awe.

Aside from being a fascinating sight, you’ll feel restoration as you soak in the rays.

3. Take a hike

Go for a hike to relieve stress, exercise, and enjoy nature.

You can hike in the mountains or on trails at parks. There are many options with different difficulties and durations.

Hiking also benefits your cardiovascular health, muscles, and balance.

After your hike, you’ll feel a weight off your shoulders as it calms your mind.

4. Go birding

Person crouching down in grass and birding.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

Birding is also called birdwatching. It’s all about observing birds in their natural habitats.

Birding is one of the best outdoor activities to relax. You admire birds, listen to their sounds, and explore the natural world.

You can bird alone or with others. It’s also an activity you can do anytime and anywhere.

5. Relax at a beach

Person laying on a hammock at a beach.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

Beaches are perfect places to relax, unwind, and appreciate nature.

Put your feet in the sand, listen to the waves, and soak in the sun. You can also get in the water and go for a swim.

By the time you leave, you’ll feel calm and happy.

6. Stargaze

Stars are fascinating and peaceful to watch. Stargaze and see the light up the night sky.

It’s a relaxing activity that connects you with nature.

Stargazing is best away from the city lights and when the skies are clear.

You can view stars with your eyes or through a telescope.

7. Try gardening

Gardening is a relaxing activity that makes you feel peaceful and content.

You can plant flowers, vegetables, and herbs. It’s satisfying to watch them grow and eat things from your garden.

The process of gardening offers mental and physical benefits. You’ll enjoy sunlight and nature.

You’ll also strengthen your body.

8. Go for a scenic drive

Solo driving on a scenic route is therapeutic. It makes you present and aware of your surroundings.

You’ll also express gratitude and appreciate the beauty of the world.

Going for a drive gives you time to think. You’ll overcome obstacles and gain mental clarity.

9. Go fishing

Fishing is a popular low-impact sport. It’s also one of the best activities to relax.

The act of casting and hauling is therapeutic.

Fishing also leads you to focus on the present moment and enjoy nature.

10. Ride a bike

Person riding a bike on a trail and listening to music.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

Cycling releases endorphins and makes you feel good.

Like other forms of exercise, it helps you relax and clear your mind.

Riding a bike also provides a different perspective than being in a car.

You’ll feel the wind on your face and explore places you’re unable to with a car.

Relaxing activities for groups

Whether a group of friends or coworkers, the following are ideas to relax many people.

They’re excellent ways to de-stress groups and reset.

You’ll get ideas for small and large groups. Some are quick ways to relax, while others take more time.

1. Group meditation

Groups of all sizes can relax and enjoy meditation. When meditating in groups, a leader is essential.

The leader will guide the group and prepare the environment.

Body scans, breath work, and chanting are excellent methods for group meditation.

2. Book club

Book clubs allow you to meet new people and be consistent in reading.

The environment is relaxing and comfortable.

While talking with others about a book, you’ll feel calm and get stress relief.

You’ll also have a sense of community with others with the same interest.

3. Enjoy a meal with others

People laughing and eating at a table.
Photo by David Em/Relaxation Hero and Canva.

Food brings people together. You can have a potluck or go out to eat with a group.

Eating and talking will relax the group. It also connects you with others, and you’ll have a good time.

4. Play a game

Group games relax everyone and build a bond. When groups are tense or times are stressful, play a game.

Bingo, Two Truths and a Lie, Charades, and scavenger hunts are some of the best games for groups.

It gives the group a break and brings lots of laughter.

5. Share gratitude

Gratitude brings positive emotions, relieves stress, and builds relationships.

Share compliments in a group to make everyone feel good.

It connects the members of the group and soothes their minds.

Final thoughts

Do stress-relieving activities to calm your body and mind.

There are many ways to relax. Examples include yoga, birdwatching, and finding a hobby.

By relaxing, you’ll sleep better, be more productive, and feel happier.

So, take a deep breath and commit to doing activities to relax.

Related: 7 Chakra Colors, Symbols, and Meanings

Featured image by David Em/Relaxation Hero.

David Em.

David Em

David Em is the Founder of Relaxation Hero. He created this site to provide tips and resources to help you relax. Outside of Relaxation Hero, David is the CEO of Everyone Media Group. He also enjoys hiking, running, and traveling.