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5 Unorthodox Ways to Relieve Stress That You May Not Have Tried

By Cynthia Hogg March 21, 2024 Health and Fitness

Wars, inflation, climate change… all on top of our own personal problems and challenges. No wonder we so often feel stressed!

Most of us have tried the standard remedies: meditation, yoga, deep breathing, listening to music… the list goes on. All good things to be sure, but sometimes ongoing stress calls for kicking things up a notch and trying something new. Here are five – perhaps unorthodox! – ways to relieve stress that you may not have tried yet.

Have a Pillow Fight

Take an old pillowcase and a marker. Draw a picture of anybody or anything that you’d like to land a good punch on but can’t. Stuff a pillow into the case, and have at it!

Alternately, have an old-fashioned pillow fight with someone else (or a group of friends). You may feel a little silly, but you will also feel better. Trust me.

Smash Things

I have tried this method, and it was actually quite therapeutic. At one time, when the family was feeling a lot of stress, we got a huge appliance box and gathered all the mismatched china and drinkware we had about. We wore safety goggles and had fun just throwing the items down in the box and watching them smash. The pieces stayed in the box; when done, we threw everything away – and everyone felt better. Don’t have any mismatched breakables? Pick some up at a local thrift store.

In case you find this idea strange, it’s reported that Karen Grassle, the actress who played the sweet, patient mother Caroline Ingalls in The Little House on the Prairie series, used to relieve stress this way!


Not talking here about taking dance lessons or even going out to a club to dance. There are inherent stressors there. I’m talking about putting on some lively music – record, tape, CD, or streaming – and dancing with abandon in your own living room.

“Sing like no one is listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like no one is watching, and live like it is heaven on earth” is advice attributed to the author Mark Twain. This is a way to accomplish that third phrase. The physical release of tension, as well as the emotional lift, is a double win for your stress level.

Use Your Phone to See the World in a New Way

You can use a normal camera but I believe most of us find our smartphones the easiest way to take pictures and enjoy them immediately.

Take a stroll anywhere outside and look for new ways of seeing the world.

Look for letters of the alphabet in unusual places.

Or snap a photo of a friendly dog. How could you fail to smile back?

Look for beauty in small or delicate things.

Find intriguing patterns in nature or city landscapes.

Recognize interesting “faces” in unusual places.

This is actually a form of mindfulness, paying attention to your immediate surroundings and slowing down enough to appreciate them. Appreciation of the beauty around you can put things into perspective, increase feelings of gratitude and well-being, and reduce feelings of stress.

Spend Time with a Young Child

Even if it’s only for 30 minutes, or even if it’s only virtual. Ask an open-ended, “beautiful question.” Examples: “If you could choose a super power, what would it be?” or “What’s your idea of a perfect day?” (See for more beautiful question ideas.)

Or just let them talk. Children generally have such interesting observations about the world!

This stress-reliever was inspired by my 4-year-old granddaughter, Clara. When called in to dinner recently, she said, “I can’t come in right now – I have too much to do! I have to draw a line in the sand with this stick, I have to look up at the beautiful blue sky, and I have to dance and twirl;” (which she then proceeded to do). How could I not be touched by her joy for living?

Young children are full of all the best wisdom we are often too busy – or too jaded – to think of ourselves. But didn’t we used to know these things? Let a young child share their perspective with you, and feel renewed.

I did warn you some of these ideas are a bit unorthodox.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you tried any unorthodox ways of relieving stress? Would you be inspired to try a pillow fight or dancing? How about looking for weird things when outside? Do you have any unorthodox ways of your own for relieving stress?

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Colleen Cunningham

What a great article. All good things to try and have done that with some and they work. Singing in 2 choirs and even practising on my own helps lift the spirits.I find qi gong also a big help along with the yoga. Cheers! Oh and looking up jokes online and sharing with family and friends..


I do Diamond Painting…I find it so wonderfully stress-busting. I found it so much so that I have my own class. I am now a volunteer instructor for it at my local senior center! What I have found most interesting is that it’s open to everyone there but I only have had women join. No men seem interested. I keep wondering why that is…🤔

The Author

Cynthia Hogg is a freelance writer in western Michigan who contributes regularly to Sixty and Me and Senior Perspectives magazine. She loves to travel and spend time with her grandchildren, especially combining the two. She is the editor of the newly updated blog

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