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Good Words: Stress Relief Phrases

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Here are some phrasal verbs/idioms that are often used when we’re talking about relieving (reducing) stress.

  • “I’m going to treat myself to a piece of chocolate.”
  • “Tonight, I’m treating myself to a hot bath and a novel. I haven’t had time to read in two weeks!”
  • To “treat yourself (herself/etc.) to something” is to do something that you don’t usually do. Maybe you don’t usually do it for time, money, or health reasons.

  • “I’m taking a break from the news. I think I’ll go to the gym or take a walk in the park.”
  • “My friend’s coming over so I can take a break from watching my daughter.”
  • “Playing with my dog lets me take a break from worrying about what is happening.”
  • To “take a break from something” or “take a break from doing something” means to stop doing it for a while.

  • “My son decided to play video games for a while to take his mind off the bad news.”
  • “I’m going to bake some cookies to take my mind off things. Do you want to come over and help?”
  • “I got my mind off everything by going to the gym yesterday. It was good.”
  • To “take [your/my/etc.] mind off something” means to make yourself think about something else by doing another activity.

    Get [your/my/etc.] mind off something” is basically the same. Sometimes “of” is used (“take your mind off of something”/”get your mind off of something”).

  • “My boss decided to give everyone a break by letting us work from home We still have to work, but we don’t have to go to the office.”
  • Give yourself a break and don’t worry about what other people think right now.”
  • I’m giving myself a break by cooking easy things for dinner.”
  • There are two patterns here: 1) “give someone a break by doing something” 2) “give someone a break and do something

    Both basically mean the same thing: to make life a little easier by doing something (working from home, not worrying about what other people thing, cooking easy things for dinner).

    “Give yourself a break and” may actually mean “both relax a little and do this thing” or “first relax a little, and then immediately do this thing to continue relaxing.” All three ways of understanding the meaning of this phrase are so close that it doesn’t really matter.

  • “She’s relaxing with a cup of tea and a book now. Don’t bother her!”
  • “I’m so stressed out–I’m going to go relax with some music.”
  • “You’ve been working on that for hours. Why don’t you go relax with a video game for a while?”
  • To relax with something is to relax while you are using/drinking/reading/etc. that thing.

    If you’d like to use a verb, use “relax and” instead: “I’m going to relax and watch a DVD.

If you’re stressed out right now, but not in an emergency situation, I hope you can give yourself a break from the stress.

Any questions about how to use these phrases? Just leave a comment!

6 comments to Good Words: Stress Relief Phrases

  • Green

    Hi, Clarissa-san! Writing from Japan. I learnt Readable blog through tadoku.org where I sometimes post my comment. Sakai-san is used to be my English teacher and I know Emmie-san as well.

    Thank you for good phrases. I like them because they are the phrases I often need to express what I feel. To me, “Treat myself to….. ” or “Take my mind off…..” are seemed to be more fitting and closer to what I really want to say, than just the word “relax”.

    Many thanks for your warm comment on the earthquake disaster. Since I live in Tokyo and I am so far OK. Most of the news are still turn-eyes-away things but little by little, goods news have been coming out.

  • Hello Clarissa, thank you for making an entry, especially when I got furious and also disappointed with reading that obnoxious article of eye-catching headline, about how to release stresses. I’m sure people in Japan are there in your mind when you wrote this entry.
    yes, I’m treating myself to a bar of chocolate^^ to get my mind off of endless worries of unpredictable incidents. I’m not directly damaged by the earthquakes so far, but when aftershocks keep coming, there was a big one last night in Shizuoka, and some of my friends or acquaintances are missing or made to move out of the endangered areas, I really need to do something else to give myself a break.
    I’m really thankful people abroad for coming up with various and thoughtful ways of encouraging us. There are other things you can do to help your friends besides money and your site in one of them. Thank you!

  • Thank you for sharing these calming phrases after I made the mistake of turning on the TV news this morning. Sometimes it’s essential to “take a break from the news” so we can “take a break from worrying”.

    Your gentle reminders are appreciated by this stressed English teacher!

  • Glad to hear it, Eric–I see you’ve read between the lines!

  • Hi, emmie-san, I think it’s important to remember that everybody in Japan was affected in one way or another. Some people are wondering why they are so stressed when they didn’t get hurt or have any damage to their house, but in an event that big, everyone in the society is going to share the stress…

    I’ve been trying to think of ways to help, and it’s pretty hard to judge what would be useful or appropriate. A lot of other people are coming up with really amazing things, which is wonderful. I’m glad to hear that that this was a bit useful. I don’t usually post phrase posts, as you know, but in this case, there was a double message. ;)

    Please take care!

  • Hi, Green-san–

    Thanks for visiting! I don’t usually post a lot of phrases like this, but I thought they’d be useful now. I also want to remind people to DO these things. ;) Even if you’re in Tokyo, I think there’s still a lot of stress. In events this big, everyone shares in the disaster…

    I’m really glad to hear that the phrases were useful to you.

    Please take care!

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