17 Stress and Depression Management Tips
for a More Productive Life

See also: Dealing with Stress - Top Tips

The World Health Organization reports that 3.8 percent of the world’s population experience depression at least once in their lifetime. Although this percentage might seem small, it represents nearly 300 million across the globe. Sadly, 32% of depressed people have suicidal feelings and thoughts, while 16% inflict self-harm.

Managing stress is one of the best ways to mitigate depression and its ill effects. In this article, we share 17 stress and depression management tips to help you achieve good mental health and a more productive life.

What Is Stress, Burnout and Depression?

Stress is a crucial, albeit often maligned, aspect of social life with significant physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual implications. Stress can act as a positive force when it pushes us to act and can bring out the best in us. Sadly, however, stress can become problematic when it overwhelms our ability to respond to and manage whatever causes stress.

Prolonged stress can exhaust our mental and physical reserves, making us more prone to cynicism, negativity, social withdrawal, and physical exhaustion. We call this state burnout.

Burned-out folks lose interest, are unable to function, and experience sadness. If these feelings continue, they can suffer depression. The Mayo Clinic says depression impacts how we think, behave, and feel. It can increase our risk of physical and emotional problems.

Types of Stress and Depression

Stress has different types, including the following.

  • Physical – Trauma, over-exertion, excessive noise, substance abuse, musculoskeletal problems, inadequate oxygenation, and food allergies are examples of physical stress.

  • Psychological – Fears, sadness, resentment, information overload, guilt, and self-criticism are some forms of psychological stress. Another good example is PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Psychosocial – Issues with social relationships, loss of employment, isolation, and bankruptcy can lead people to experience psychosocial stress.

  • Psycho-spiritual – This stress type relates to one’s spiritual beliefs, core values, and life meaning, among others.

On the other hand, the Cleveland Clinic says people can experience at least seven depression forms.

  • Major depressive disorder – depressive symptoms last at least two weeks.

  • Bipolar depression –alternating periods of excessive happiness and sadness.

  • Persistent depressive disorder – similar to major depressive disorder, but the symptoms are less severe. People can have this mental health disorder for at least two years.

  • Seasonal affective disorder – primarily occurs in winter and fall and disappears in summer and spring.

  • Psychotic depression – similar to major depression but with hallucinations or delusions.

  • Postpartum and perinatal depressive states – limited to pregnant women and women who recently gave birth.

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – occurs among women with severe premenstrual syndrome.

Understanding Stress Levels

Some folks handle stress quite well, while others struggle. Hence, it’s safe to assume that people respond differently depending on their stress levels. Three stress levels exist, with identifying characteristics, duration, and management.

  • Acute 

    The body releases cortisol whenever we experience stress. This hormone stimulates the body to increase sugar, giving us energy to “fight” our stressors or go on a “flight” away from them. Acute stress is temporary and brief, with most folks experiencing irritability, anger, anxiety, muscle tension, and other physical symptoms.

  • Episodic

    Some individuals are more susceptible to more frequent bouts of acute stress, which health professionals describe as episodic. People who worry too much, negative thinkers, and those with a Type A personality tend to suffer from episodic stress more often than others.

  • Chronic

    Prolonged stress (usually lasting more than six months) could lead to irreversible physical problems and mental health deterioration. Substance abuse, an unhappy marriage, poor work environment, dysfunctional family, and unemployment can cause chronic stress. Those suffering from chronic stress become more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts, violence, stroke, heart attack, and psychosis.

Symptoms and Causes of Stress and Depression

Stress can come from anything, such as relationships, the environment, food, pollution, money, bad news, and others. Anything that can trigger the body to release cortisol and other stress hormones can produce stress.

On the other hand, depression almost always emanates from stress. Depression undermines your ability to manage stress, severely impacting your quality of life and can lead to various physical, mental, social, and emotional problems.

You’ll know you are potentially stressed if you have any of the following.

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Body aches
  • Sleep problems
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • High blood pressure and chest pain
  • Sweating
  • Itchy skin and rashes
  • Menstrual changes
  • Sudden weight changes
  • Dizziness, fainting, or feeling sick
  • Worsening health problems

Meanwhile, depressed people might show the following signs and symptoms.

  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Irritability and quick to anger
  • Finds things previously enjoyed are no longer interesting
  • Loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Self-loathing
  • Sleep changes
  • Reckless behavior
  • Problems focusing and concentrating
  • Unexplained pains and discomforts

Why You Should Manage Stress and Depression

Stress and depression management is crucial to avoid living with chronically high levels of stress. Too much stress can upset your emotional balance, increase susceptibility to diseases, worsen existing health conditions, and can reduce cognitive functions, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, memory, creativity, and learning. Poor mental health can also develop.

Hence, managing stress and depression is necessary to ensure you lead life to the fullest.

17 Techniques to Reduce and Melt Away Stress and Depression

Managing stress and depression isn’t complicated or challenging. These 17 techniques should help you lead a mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally sounder life.

Relieve Acute Stress

We can experience stress anytime. It will be best to learn to manage acute stress with the following.

1. Breathing Exercises

Controlled breathing increases oxygen to the tissues, making highly stressed people more relaxed.

  • Pursed-lip breathing – This exercise allows you to prolong the oxygen exchange in the lungs by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through partially-open (pursed) lips.

  • Belly breathing – This activity trains the diaphragm (the muscle between the chest and abdominal cavities) to expand and contract at will, ensuring full oxygenation.

  • Deep breathing – This breathing exercise can relieve shortness of breath by inhaling more fresh air. It requires breathing in, holding it for five seconds, and exhaling slowly.

  • Breath focus – This breathing technique combines deep breathing and imagery, where you focus on a “calming scene” or “neutral words” while inhaling and exhaling deeply.

2. Cuddling

Scientists discovered that a cuddle reduces cortisol secretion and increases oxytocin production. It’s one of the most effective ways to manage stress and depression while boosting interpersonal bonds.

3. Positive thinking

Negative self-talk is counterproductive because it heightens stress levels, making you more susceptible to depression. People will feel better about themselves and improve their outlook and wellbeing if they exercise positive thinking.

Manage Your Time Better

Time management is vital in effective stress management because it makes everything easier, more meaningful, and less stressful.

4. Use a planning tool

Organizers and similar planning tools allow people to manage time, commitments, and activities, empowering them to prioritize important matters and avoid procrastinating and cramming.

5. Minimize overdependence on personal digital technologies

Smartphones and other mobile devices make life more convenient. Sadly, these gadgets can also bring stress and depression. Hence, people should use these technologies only when necessary. Turning off notifications can also help.

6. Know your boundaries and learn to say “no”

Setting limits is crucial to ensuring good mental health and lower stress levels. Saying “yes” to every request will only add pressure on yourself, quickly depleting your psychological and emotional reserves.

Improve Self-care

Good mental health starts with a well-balanced physical, emotional, psychological, and social life.

7. Breathe fresh air and spend time in nature

Communing with Mother Nature reduces cortisol levels to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. A quiet and peaceful environment, warm sunshine, and fresh air are sufficient to recharge the self and allow it to face other stressors.

8. Get more physical activity

People always find an excuse not to exercise, such as being too tired from work or household chores. However, walking or biking to and from the office can be excellent exercise. Doing the chores without machines (i.e., washing machines, floor polishers, dishwashers, etc.) can also be exercises that lower stress levels.

9. Take a yoga or meditation class

Yoga promotes physical and mental relaxation to reduce anxiety and stress. Meanwhile, meditation offers overall wellness and emotional well-being by training the mind to be peaceful, calm, and balanced. These techniques help people keep inner peace and are unbothered by mundane problems.

10. Spend more quality time with loved ones (i.e., family, friends, and pets)

Ditch the smartphone and other gadgets when you’re with family, friends, and pets because they offer companionship no technology can provide. The laughter you share, memories you make, and the relationship you strengthen are more priceless than a five-digit smartphone.

Follow a healthy diet

Studies show that foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats can reduce cortisol levels, ensuring people who eat these foods will have a nearly stress-free life.

11. Eat well

The human body requires energy to fight stress. However, you should avoid sugary and high fat “comfort foods” because these items only exacerbate stress. A well-balanced diet with high-quality, nutrient-rich foods is essential to fight stress and depression. Examples of stress-busting foods include fatty fish, egg yolks, turmeric, yogurt, green tea, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.

12. Reduce caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine can boost cortisol levels and make people more vulnerable to stress effects. On the other hand, alcohol disrupts the chemical balance in the brain, making even the mildest stress seem impossible to overcome.

13. Consider supplements

People who cannot eat a well-balanced diet should consider supplements to boost their stress management capabilities. Some proven anti-stress supplements are ashwagandha benefits, L-theanine, magnesium, melatonin, Rhodiola, lemon balm, valerian, and kava.

Useful Stress Relief Devices and Therapies at Home

Science continues to look for innovative ways for everyone to fight stress and depression in their homes. Some therapies are as old as time, while others are 20th-century creations. Regardless, their stress-busting benefits are worth considering.

14. TENS Machine and CES

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS machine delivers low-voltage electricity to the skin to reduce pain signals and promote muscle relation and pain relief. However, studies also show TENS regulates hypothalamic oxytocin expression to reduce stress. The TENS machine is portable enough to take anywhere you go.

Another modern anti-stress and anti-depressant therapy worth considering is Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation or CES. The device is similar to a TENS unit, requiring people to clip electrodes to their earlobes to facilitate the transmission of a low-voltage current to the brain.

CES therapy increases endorphin release, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Boosting the levels of these substances reduces stress levels and prevents depression.

15. Acupuncture and handheld massagers

The ancient Chinese began using acupuncture to treat various ailments about 3,000 years ago. It’s similar to TENS, except the therapy uses sterilized needles inserted into specific body regions called “acupoints” or “dermatomes” in western medicine. The acupoint for stress relief is the “Yin Tang,” located between the eyebrows’ inner ridges.

Handheld massagers are also beneficial because these devices loosen tight muscles, improve blood flow, and promote tissue repair. These actions contribute to overall relaxation, allowing the mind to find peace and feel less stressed.

16. Cold and heat therapy

University of California San Francisco researchers found that quick exposure to heat or cold can improve coping abilities against stress. Cold therapies reduce pain and swelling, while heat treatments are suitable for muscle stiffness. These conditions can increase the experience of stress and depression, making cold and heat therapies excellent as home remedies.

These home therapies are hassle-free to implement. However, people must limit these treatments to 20 minutes each session to avoid the rebound effect.

17. Aromatherapy

This natural therapy predates acupuncture by about 4,500 years. First used in religious rituals, aromatherapy evolved to become one of the most trusted home remedies to relieve different health problems, including stress and depression. It works by inhaling the vapor of essential oils with the help of a device called inhaler or nebuliser.

Clary sage remains the best essential aromatherapy oil for stress, while lemon and jasmine are excellent for fighting depression. Other essential oils with anti-stress properties include lavender (for relaxation), chamomile (for better sleep), orange (for meditation), sandalwood (for anxiety), and ylang-ylang (for improved rest).


Although stress is normal in everyday life, one should not become a slave to it to avoid burnout and depression. The 17 tricks we shared in this article should empower anyone to fight and manage the different stresses in their lives, allowing them to lead fuller, more productive, and more meaningful lives.

About the Author

CareMax is an Australian owned and operated family business and a trusted retailer of quality pain relief machines, muscle strengthening devices and other health and wellness products. All products in the CareMax store are carefully selected after research and testing, and are approved to be supplied in ARTG list required by TGA. CareMax has been helping Australians live a healthier life for almost 10 years.