It may often seem like adults are most susceptible to stress, but kids go through stressful experiences too. Childhood stress can be experienced when children need to go through changes in life as they develop and grow up. While stress is healthy in small amounts, excessive amounts of stress can negatively affect emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing.
Given this, children’s stress relief should be taken seriously. Fortunately, there are many ways that children can relieve their stress. Here are some activities they can try to do just that:
101 Stress Relief Activities for Kids
1. Deep belly breathing - Deep breathing can help kids take in more oxygen, slow their heart rate, and calm their minds during stressful situations.
2. Enjoy nature - Being in nature is a great stress reliever for kids as it can decrease muscle tension, blood pressure, and improve brain activity.
3. Practice mindfulness - When we experience stress, it can be hard to focus on the present. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stressful thoughts and bring kids back to the present.
4. Exercise - Exercise is essential for kids regardless of stress level because it releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that make one feel good.
5. Share your feelings - Sometimes being stressed can make us feel like we’re carrying a heavy load. Sharing these feelings with a trusted person can make us feel better.
6. Color - Coloring is always a fun and creative activity for kids that can take the focus away from stressful thoughts and feelings.
7. Listen to music - Listening to music is one of the best ways to spend your time while boosting brain activity, effectively getting rid of stress.
8. Take a bath or a shower - Sometimes kids just need to refresh themselves with a bath or a shower to feel better and ready to take on other things.
9. Play with a pet - Playing with a pet can improve mood, decrease feelings of loneliness, and even lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
10. Meditate - Yes, even kids can meditate. Teaching children how to focus on their breathing and do other calming techniques can help them enter a calm and present state.
11. Organize your room - It’s common for children’s rooms to be messy. Organizing it can help them reduce the stress of finding things they need or having a cluttered space.
12. Read a book - Reading can transport a child from a stressful state to their imagination when immersed in a good book.
13. Use essential oils - Aromatherapy can help kids feel more at ease and less anxious.
14. Play a game - Whether it’s charades or a kid’s favorite board game, having fun is always a great antidote to a stressful situation.
15. Cook a meal - Preparing a meal requires a child’s full attention and concentration. They may feel a sense of achievement and be less stressed after whipping up their favorite dish.
16. Watch a comedy - Laughter is the best medicine when it comes to stressful situations, so sit back and watch some comedy to have a good time!
17. Make a gratitude list - Writing down what they are thankful for can help kids appreciate the good in their life despite some of the bad situations.
18. Tense and relax your muscles - Kids may not realize when they are tensing up due to stress. Have them tense their muscles and relax. Repeat this to achieve a more relaxed state.
19. Garden - Gardening is a great stress-relief activity because one is surrounded by nature and actively helping it grow. This takes the attention away from stress and problems.
20. Stretch - Stressed individuals can feel very tense, so stretching out the muscles can be a good way to relieve this sensation.
21. Cry it out - Sometimes kids can have days so stressful that all they can really do is cry it out. It is helpful to let out the negative feelings, which often leaves one feeling lighter afterwards.
22. Get enough sleep - A lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels in the body, so kids should make sure to get enough shut eye!
23. Squeeze a stress ball - Having a stress ball around can be handy during stressful times. It helps kids release energy through tension and then allows them to relax.
24. Play an instrument - Similar to exercise, playing an instrument releases endorphins, which can combat the negative effects of stress.
25. Ask for help - Some stressful situations aren’t meant to be handled alone, especially if you’re a kid. Asking for help is one of the best things to do.
26. Use problem solving skills - Focusing on how to solve a problem can help kids feel more in control and reduce their stress levels in the process.
27. Eat healthy food - There are some foods that can increase stress levels. Kids can stick to whole foods and consume less sugar to lower stress.
28. Limit caffeine and sugar - Caffeine and sugar can increase energy levels, but they can also make your stress and anxiety worse. It’s best for kids to limit their intake.
29. Take a walk - Walking promotes relaxation and elevates mood. This light exercise can help kids calm down and destress.
30. Take a break - Working hard is important, but don’t forget to take breaks as well.
31. Spend time with friends - Hanging out with friends can make kids feel happier and less lonely, thereby reducing their stress levels.
32. Watch a movie - Watching an enjoyable movie can make kids feel better and can even have a soothing effect.
33. Visualize a peaceful place - Visualizations, which are often used in meditation, can help kids transport themselves to a calmer and more peaceful place to get rid of stressful sensations.
34. Write in a journal - Writing in a journal can relieve stress because it allows kids to write about their feelings in an unfiltered way. This can feel like a cathartic release.
35. Talk to a trusted adult - Sometimes stress occurs in a child’s life because they are stuck in certain problems or situations. Talking to a trusted adult can provide some much-needed guidance and comfort.
36. Drink water - Drinking water is a simple yet effective way to lower stress by keeping the body healthy.
37. Bake - Like cooking, baking is a fun activity that can distract kids from stressful situations.
38. Get out in the sun - Getting some vitamin D can instantly lift one’s spirits and make them feel less stressed.
39. Grounding techniques - Stress can sometimes spiral into anxiety, so following a few grounding techniques can help calm kids down.
40. Take a break from electronics - With so much stimuli in the digital world, staying online can become a stressful experience. Kids should remember to take breaks.
41. Enjoy a hobby - Doing something you love for fun can help reduce stress levels. Whether it’s arts and crafts or building figures, having a hobby is important for kids.
42. Take a nap - When the world gets too stressful, it can help kids to take a nap. This gives them an opportunity to rest and recharge before tackling their challenges.
43. Do yoga - Yoga is an exercise that requires an immense amount of focus. This can distract from stressful situations and improve a child’s overall mood and health.
44. Listen to an audiobook - Listening to an audiobook can stimulate a child’s imagination and keep them preoccupied for hours.
45. Draw or doodle - Making art, whether drawing or doodling, can stimulate the creative part of the brain and improve kids’ focus and mood.
46. Paint - Painting is a fun activity because kids can get as creative and messy as they want to. Stress will just fly out the window!
47. Avoid negative people - Being around negative people will only increase stress levels. Kids should surround themselves with positive people instead.
48. Use time wisely - Poor time management can lead to a lot of stress. Teaching kids good time management skills early on can help them avoid the pressure and anxiety.
49. Follow daily routines - A daily routine reduces stress because it helps kids go through their day habitually. Routines feel safe, familiar, and help kids remain stress-free.
50. Reframe problems as challenges - Viewing problems as problems can make one feel stuck. Reframing them as challenges can help kids look at it in a more positive light.
51. Practice optimism - Being negative only worsens symptoms of stress. Try practicing optimistic thinking whenever possible.
52. Dance - Dancing also releases endorphins to make kids happy, motivated, and calm.
53. Sing - Singing is an enjoyable activity that releases oxytocin that alleviates anxiety and stress.
54. Laugh - Laughter can combat stress and improve self-esteem.
55. Massage your neck and shoulders - Kids can get tension in the neck and shoulder area as well. Massaging it can help reduce stress.
56. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones - It can be difficult to pull oneself out of a pattern of negative thoughts. Replacing these thoughts with positive ones can slowly but surely lower stress levels.
57. Move your body - If kids are shy to dance, then simply moving their body around can provide stress relief.
58. Play a sport - Sports are a great way to activate the mind and body. It also allows kids to bond with their teammates.
59. Build something - Building something can make kids feel better about their abilities, especially because the results are tangible.
60. Write a story - Writing a story can help children focus less on stressful thoughts and more on the possibilities for the characters that they are imagining.
61. Help others or volunteer - Helping others gives kids a chance to feel like they’ve contributed to something good. These positive feelings can dispel stress.
62. Write out your thoughts and feelings - Stress can cause confusion in kids’ thoughts and feelings. Writing them out can help add clarity and calmness.
63. Let the little things go - Holding onto little things that cause stress will only make things worse. Kids can learn to let go of the little things to make more room for what matters.
64. Do something artistic - Anything artistic can put children in a better mood and relieve their stress levels.
65. Close your eyes and breathe deeply - When confronted with stress, closing one’s eyes and taking a deep breath can help provide a sense of calm.
66. Apologize for a mistake - Apologizing can help repair relationships that might have been a source of stress for a child.
67. Do a word search puzzle - Word search puzzles require a lot of focus. Each word you find can help you feel like you’ve accomplished something, too!
68. Forgive yourself for mistakes - Sometimes kids hang on to past mistakes, and this causes a lot of distress. Learning how to forgive such mistakes is key.
69. Watch TV - As long as kids don’t stay glued to the screen for hours on end, watching TV can be a good activity that relieves stress.
70. Do one thing at a time - Attempting to multitask is a recipe for stress. Focus on doing one thing at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have achieved more.
71. Daydream - Letting the mind wander is nice to do from time to time and can help bring a kid out of a stressful train of thought.
72. Stop and look out the window - Staying cooped up indoors can add to stress, so looking out the window every once in a while is a must.
73. Go on a hike - Not only are children surrounded by nature during hikes, but the challenge of getting through the activity can feel good and rewarding in the end.
74. Walk barefoot in the grass - Walking barefoot in the grass feels good and releases feel-good chemicals in the body that can lower stress levels.
75. Forgive someone - Holding a grudge can increase a kid’s stress levels. Being able to forgive someone can promote feelings of ease and calmness.
76. Stargaze - Stargazing can improve a child's well being by promoting a sense of lost time and amazement, leading to positive emotions rather than negative ones.
77. Watch a cloud for 5 minutes - Watching a cloud for a few minutes is a simple yet fun activity that helps kids focus and relax at the same time.
78. Watch an insect for 5 minutes - Watching an insect for several minutes can also increase a child’s sense of fascination.
79. Watch the sunrise or sunset - Looking at sunrises and sunsets helps children to appreciate the beauty of the world they live in and can eliminate feelings of stress.
80. Do a random act of kindness - Random acts of kindness can improve a child’s self-perception on the positive kind of change they can make in the world.
81. Fly a kite - There’s something utterly satisfying about getting a kite to fly. Do this fun activity with your kids and watch their stress melt away.
82.Go for a jog - Going for a jog is a great way for kids to get their mind off things. The endorphins released during this exercise can also reduce stress.
83. Go swimming - Swimming is another exercise that releases endorphins to battle stress. Being in the water is also plenty of fun for kids.
84. Do something fun - Whatever activity a child chooses, as long as they’re having fun it will help them cope with any stressful situation they are dealing with.
85. Visualize yourself achieving your goals - Some kids may feel the pressure to achieve their goals, which is the source of their stress. Visualizing achieving these goals can help relieve that pressure.
86. Read inspirational quotes - It helps to have an inspirational quote or a mantra to ground oneself after a long and hard day. It might even be good to post it on the wall where it can easily be seen.
87. Go to the park - Visiting a park provides a nice change of scenery, one of the ways to reduce stress for kids.
88. Eat a snow cone or shaved ice - There is something fun and alluring about eating a colorful, sweetly flavored cone of shaved ice. Have fun with this dessert and feel your stress go away.
89. Sit under a tree - Sitting under a tree is a great way for kids to relax and spend time outdoors, which helps to relieve stress.
90. Listen to the birds - Hearing the sounds of nature, such as birds singing, can make kids feel happier and less stressed.
91. Ride a bike - Riding a bike is another great form of exercise that can help with stress relief for kids.
92. Get or give a hug - When people hug, it releases a hormone called oxytocin that promotes feelings of warmth, safety, and relaxation.
Say positive affirmations, such as:
93. Relax, it’s okay - Kids can tell themselves to relax and that things will be okay to affirm that stress is only temporary.
94. I can find the humor here - Sometimes it helps to laugh off stressful situations!
95. Time out, I’m taking a walk - When kids are overwhelmed with stressful emotions, it helps to take a time out and go for a walk.
96. I have faith this will work out - Stress can cause feelings of doubt. It is important to remind oneself that things can still work out.
97. I’m strong, I can deal with this - Stress can also cause kids to lose confidence. Remembering one’s strength in handling these challenges is vital.
98. Good time to count to 10, or 100 - Taking a break and counting slowly can help kids refocus and reduce their stress levels.
99. Something good can come out of this - Stress worsens negative feelings. By remembering that something good can come out of a bad situation, kids can combat stressful feelings.
100. I can be patient in this moment - Dealing with stress often requires patience, so kids can choose to remain calm even-tempered.
101. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, and I can manage - Although stressful situations are uncomfortable, children can feel more empowered if they remind themselves that they can manage it.
Download our 101 Stress Relief Activities for Kids
These stress reducing activities for students can really make a difference in their everyday experiences. Whether the stress comes from school, relationships, or other factors, knowing even just a few of these exercises can help tremendously. Download our 101 Stress Relievers for Kids and Teens here.