Best Relaxation Exercises for Stress Relief

Working out can be a fantastic way to combat stress. Studies have shown that those that regularly hit the gym are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress. If you feel like your mind isn’t getting the TLC it needs, the answer could be in your body.

Here are our top suggestions for exercises to make you feel chilled out when life gets challenging. Don’t worry too much if the exercises don’t fit in with your current workout plans. After all, mental health is as important as physical health. If you can find a workout that helps your progress towards your fitness goals, perfect. If not, you can mix and match your workouts until you feel good enough to just concentrate on the physical side.

There isn’t one direct workout you need – experiment to see which works best for your wellbeing.

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Of course, yoga is well known for being a relaxing and therapeutic workout. A good yoga class should help you shake off the stresses of the day. As well as stretching and toning your muscles, yoga also helps to make participants feel “in the moment”, not dwelling on worries or plans.

Many of the poses in yoga actually simulate stances the body might take when in danger. By taking them and focusing your breathing to create a calm atmosphere, this actually trains the brain to be less prone to panic. This makes it an excellent choice for combating stress that rises when you are under pressure, such as a hectic period at work.

Martial Arts

While “fighting” may seem like a counterproductive way to calm down, many people find it very therapeutic. In particular, if your stress manifests itself in feelings of helplessness or anger, it can be very helpful. Letting out your frustrations in a productive and focused way can really help to discard the stresses you have been experiencing.

Additionally, if you have been feeling unmotivated or useless, showing yourself you can defend yourself and gain new skills can be a huge boost.

Not only that, but the intense cardio of martial arts such as Thai boxing can give you a huge hit of feel-good endorphins.

or Boxing, Taekwondo & Mixed Martial Arts


Hitting the pool can be refreshing for both your body and your mind. This full body workout encourages you to control your breathing into steady and full inhalations and exhalations. This can be very beneficial in a similar way to the controlled breathing experienced in yoga classes.

Swimming is also easy on your joints, which makes it a great option for anyone who would like to enjoy the soothing benefits of exercise but is concerned about injuries.

Swimming is also a great way to focus entirely on yourself. If you already know how to swim, you can choose a quiet time at your local pool and enjoy the luxury of being alone while doing something productive.


Getting up a steady pace on is often cited by running fans as cheap therapy. Longer distance running, as opposed to HIIT sessions or running on varying terrains, allows you to slowly switch off.

Time on the treadmill can help you utilize the boost in oxygen to the brain to work through the issues causing you stress. If your lack of Zen is more abstract than a clear problem to be solved, running can also help by raising your endorphins.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.

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