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17 Fun Stress Relief Activities and Games for Groups

Participating in stress relief activities are a great way to improve your physical health and mental well-being.

Everyone experiences stress to some degree. Stress is your body’s natural reaction to a challenge, demand or situation and it can be felt emotionally, physically, or both. Although stress can sometimes be a positive force that motivates performance, prolonged periods of tension can lead to chronic stress which is harmful to your physical health and mental well-being. Incorporating stress relief activities into your daily routine can help reduce chronic stress and boost your overall health.

The effects of stress

Your body’s stress response system is meant to be self-limiting. So, when there is a perceived challenge or threat, chemicals and hormones are temporarily released in response. Once that situation has passed, your body returns to normal hormone levels and all your systems return to normal function.

But when stress starts to interfere with your everyday life or lasts for long periods of time it can create a dangerous situation for your physical health as well as your mental health. Instead of temporarily releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, your body overproduces them causing major disruption to all your systems leaving you at a higher risk for health complications such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Sleep issues
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Digestive issues

Learning fun and healthy ways to deal with stress can be life changing. Reducing your stress levels or recognizing how to better manage stressful situations is a great way to improve your overall health and give you the confidence to enjoy life as it comes!

How to reduce stress

Stress is a natural part of life but there are many ways to lessen the burden or get ahead of those tension filled feelings. As you begin to identify what things trigger your stress levels – work, finances, relationships, schedules, etc. – you can better prepare for these challenges and stressful events.

Here are some stress management tips to help:

  • Learn to Prioritize– Is your to-do list endless? Does the thought of that piece of paper make you tense up? Learning to prioritize your tasks can help you manage your time better and use your energy more effectively. Using a prioritization matrix to categorize your tasks and projects can help you get organized, feel accomplished and alleviate common stress associated with tackling a to-do list.

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  • Cultivate good sleep habits – Healthy sleep habits promote better sleep. And better sleep helps to restore balance to your body’s systems, including its stress response system. Studies show that getting less than five hours of sleep per night is linked to higher levels of cortisol-related issues, such as high blood pressure. Regularly getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night can decrease cortisol levels and help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety as well as bring additional positive health benefits.
  • Eat a healthy diet – Avoid stress eating! Eating a balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, supports a healthy immune system and provides necessary energy to deal with stressful situations. There is also early research indicating that foods such as polyunsaturated fats including omega-3 fats and vegetables may help regulate cortisol levels.
  • Get physical exercise – Physical activity has endless health benefits, including tremendous stress busting rewards. Exercise does two things simultaneously.  It causes your brain to release “feel good” chemicals called endorphins and decreases the levels of stress hormones in your body. This powerful combination helps you feel calmer and more in control of your body and life.
  • Establish a self-care routine – Practicing self-care is an excellent way to help reduce stress levels. Self-care activities can be physical, emotional, or spiritual and should be health-enhancing behaviors. The best way to incorporate regular self-care into your daily life is to start small so you stick with it. Begin with 15 minutes a day and before you know it, you’ll be hooked! Download a PDF free self-care planner here.
  • Incorporate positive self-talk into your day – Your thoughts directly impact your actions and behaviors which, in turn, affect your outcomes. Using positive affirmations is an effective way to help rewire negative thoughts that may be causing limiting beliefs and interfering with your ability to manage stress.
  • Reset your perspective – Take an intentional pause to reframe your thoughts. It creates an opportunity to slow down and look at the situation differently. Separate unhelpful thoughts from helpful thoughts and recognize where flexibility and control are present.

Stress Relieving Activities for Groups

Participating in stress management activities with groups can have positive effects on your emotional, physical, and mental health. Trying different ways to incorporate some of these fun activities into your routine can give you a great start towards better managing your stress levels!

1. Book Club

Reading can be a healthy outlet to relax and help reduce the stresses of daily life. Diving into a good book creates an escape from everyday life and provides a healthy distraction from your stressors. It also stimulates your brain, lowers your heart rate, and eases muscle tension. Join a book club, or start one up, to add a social component to the stress busting activity of reading for even more enjoyment!

2. Fitness Challenges

Get moving and release those stress busting endorphins with physical activity! Create a fitness challenge for a group of your friends and family to stay motivated and accountable. In addition to wellness challenges being a fun way to relieve stress, they can also be great team building activities. Get creative with this fun activity and award prizes or small rewards as part of the friendly competition!

3. Meditation Exercises

Meditation comes in many forms and doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. Deep breathing exercises are simple and don’t require any props or preparation such as music or candles (unless you prefer to add them in!). All you need is a quiet space and three to five minutes to concentrate on clearing your mind. Mindfulness practice techniques are a great way to connect with yourself in the present moment. These meditation techniques offer a variety of ways to ease into the practice of meditation and relaxation by incorporating mindfulness into your everyday routine.

4. Coloring

Coloring is a simple activity that can shift your mind away from the chaos of your everyday worries. In fact, research shows that art therapy is a proven stress relief activity, leading to a reduction in cortisol levels after just 45 minutes of creative expression. Hang a large coloring mural in a common space – at work or at home – and encourage everyone to participate for a few minutes each day. Keep an adult coloring book handy in your work desk or on your bedside table for another quick and simple stress relieving activity.

5. Laugh

As the age-old saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine.” But really, no joking around, laughing has a positive impact on your mental well-being and your physical health. Even a short dose of laughter will stimulate your heart and lungs by taking in more oxygen and cause your brain to release more mood boosting endorphins. Grab some friends, family or even coworkers and watch a funny movie. If you’re pressed for time search for a quick excerpt from your favorite comedian or share funny reels with friends.

6. Volunteer

Giving back to others through volunteer work ignites a sense of purpose and humbleness. The simple act of helping others is also a great way to reframe your perspective on life stressors. Join a group or recruit your family members and friends to support a local cause or participate in a volunteer event.

7. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for a therapeutic benefit, such as relaxation to help reduce stress. Essential oils are derived from plant extracts and come in a variety of scents that can be diffused into the air or mixed into lotions to be massaged into the skin. It is important to note that essential oils are not regulated so it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before using them, especially if you have other medical conditions.

8. Listen to Music

There is tons of research indicating the benefits of music on reducing stress. From stimulating the production of dopamine, the “feel good” chemical in your brain, to encouraging an impromptu dance party with a group of friends, music serves as a catalyst to improve your overall well-being. Whether you listen to, play, or sing music, you can help turn off the stress by turning on your favorite song! Build a great playlist of upbeat music and start stress busting!

9. Declutter

The disorganization of clutter can add to anxiety and stress. It’s hard to find anything in an untidy space, especially peace and a sense of calm! Clearing away the mess helps clear your mind and create an environment that promotes clarity and focus. Get your family members involved and use a monthly home organization chart to keep everyone on track. If you need some inspiration, check out these great tips to declutter.

10. Share Gratitude

When you practice gratitude as a regular habit, it can help you recognize the good things in your life despite any negative circumstances that may be happening. Training your brain to seek out the good by being grateful will help you manage stress better and improve your overall well-being.

11. Gardening

Although gardening isn’t for everyone, there are proven benefits to the stress busting activity of caring for plants. Consider partnering with coworkers on an indoor garden area at work where everyone can benefit from your beautiful greenery!

12. Play Board Games

Family game night is a great way to let loose, have some laughs and enjoy the company of loved ones. Break out board games, or even video games, and strike up some friendly competition while boosting a good mood!

13. Scavenger Hunt

A good old-fashioned scavenger hunt is one of the best stress relieving games! Plus, it’s a fun way to engage with others, get some fresh air and stimulate your brain. If outdoors is not an option, bring the fun inside. Try making a themed scavenger hunt for a twist on this stress relieving activity. Send team members on a gratitude scavenger hunt where they find things to be thankful for.

14. Stress Ball Toss

Using stress balls and other stress toys is an effective way to let out your stress in a healthy way. Grab a partner or group and toss around a stress ball for a few rounds to get moving and enjoy a distraction. If you don’t have a stress ball or stress toy on hand, blow up a balloon and see how many times you can hit it back and forth without letting it fall to the ground.

15. Pet Show and Tell

Pets are not only an important part of your family, but they are also proven stress reducers! That’s right, bring on the puppies! Research shows that simply petting a dog helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Need another benefit from our furry friends? Socially interacting with pups can also increase levels of a “feel good” chemical called oxytocin, the same hormone that helps to bond mothers and babies. Gather your friends and their pets and head out to the local dog park for an afternoon of stress busting activity!

16. Tea or Coffee Break

Drinking your favorite cup of tea or coffee can feel like wrapping yourself in a blanket and drifting off into relaxation mode. In moderate doses, caffeine is even shown to help with stress management. Stressful situations can cloud judgement which can negatively affect cognitive performance and decision making. The moderate dose of caffeine in one cup of coffee can temporarily enhance your mental faculties and give you just the right amount of pick-me-up. Add a social component by gathering with a group at your local coffee shop for a short break and enjoy!

17. Create a Vision Board

Focusing on how you WANT to feel can be an excellent way to lessen stress and anxiety. Vision boards are considered a form of journaling.  They are visuals of your own personal goals and what life will look like when you achieve them. These boards are filled with inspirational quotes, positive affirmations, photos and cut-outs of things that reflect the picture of your success and anything else encouraging. Grab a friend, family member or group of coworkers and enjoy a creative, stress relieving activity while dreaming about the future!

Great tools for stress management

There are tons of simple ways to start incorporating stress-relieving activities into your everyday life. Group activities can provide great tools for stress busting exercises as well as be a useful way to boost your mood by engaging with others. Gather some good friends, family members or colleagues and try one of the great stress relievers above to get started today!