Following the release of the Daytime Stress feature in October 2023, Oura members learned some surprising insights about their physiological stress levels. In the Oura App, some people saw their stress increase during a range of activities — including socializing with friends, drinking alcohol, or even going on a date!    

Fortunately, it is possible to take your stress down a notch when you see it spike.  

To find out what types of strategies help Oura members feel more calm and relaxed, we posed the question to members on Reddit and Instagram: Which habits or activities have helped you lower your Daytime Stress levels?

From clear, science-backed winners to more nuanced tips, here are the Oura community’s most common answers. 

READ MORE: Inside the Ring: Understanding Oura’s New Daytime Stress Feature

A Quick Note About Stress

First, it’s important to remember: Stress isn’t always bad. In fact, it can come from activities you enjoy — such as seeing friends, playing a sport, or sitting in the sauna. The type of stress tracked by Oura’s Daytime Stress feature refers to physiological arousal, as evidenced by a higher resting heart rate, lower heart rate variability, and lower body temperature. 

Lowering this type of physiological stress means that you’ll see a lower heart rate, increased heart rate variability, and a higher body temperature. 

Certain activities are backed by science to lower stress, but keep in mind that it’s all about what works for you. Everyone’s different, and your body may not respond in the same way to an activity as someone else’s. That’s why tracking your stress with Oura can help you understand your own personal rhythm. 

The Clear Winners: The Top 3 Stress-Busters

Around 60% of the Oura members who responded referenced one of these stress-busting habits. 

1. Breathe deeply 

“Taking a minute to breathe with a meditation/breathing session in the Oura App

“Breathing to switch on the vagus nerve”

“5-minute breathing meditation in between meetings”

Why it works: One of the quickest and most effective ways to lower your heart rate is to deliberately slow your breathing. A fast heartbeat and rapid shallow breathing are common parts of the stress response – preparing your body to fight or flee a stressor. 

Deep breathing, on the other hand, lowers your heart rate and helps you reduce sympathetic nervous system activation. Studies have found that just five minutes of deep breathing practiced for about a month reduces physiological stress arousal and anxiety, and boosts your mood. 

There are many types of breathing exercises you can do, from box breathing to alternate nasal breathing. 

READ MORE: 10 Simple Breathing Exercises for Sleep and Relaxation

2. Take a walk  

“Walking during breaks/lunch break”

“Mid-day movement”

“Taking a walk when I’m stressed, even if it’s super short”

Why it works: Studies show that even a 10-minute walk improves your mood and lowers stress. Getting your muscles moving increases oxygen to your brain, triggering the release of feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. 

You can get bonus points for strolling outdoors. Known as optic flow, taking in your surroundings outside has been shown to reduce activity in the amygdala – the part of your brain responsible for emotional processing, stress, and rumination.

Member Tip: Oura sends inactivity alerts with a friendly reminder to stretch your legs after 50 minutes of inactivity. When you receive this notification, you have 10 minutes to reset it. To do so, take a brief walk, or stretch for a few minutes.

3. Meditate

“A 10-minute meditation after lunch”

“Transcendental meditation”

“Using Headspace meditations recommended on the Oura App”

Why it works: The aim of meditation is to still the body and quiet the mind. Allowing your mind to slow down reduces stress arousal and helps to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Meditation is a type of “deep rest” that studies show alters your brain activity, particularly in regions associated with emotional regulation and stress. 

Other Habits That Help Oura Members Unwind 

These activities were also popular responses from the Oura community. While there is research behind these stress management techniques, these tips may not work for everyone — try a few and find what works for you

4. Take a short break to do something small that brings you joy

“Taking a break to make a cup of tea”

“Spending time with my dogs”

“Putting my feet up! Even for 5 minutes.”

“Having time for myself”

Why it works: Taking short breaks throughout the day can help lower your cortisol and adrenaline levels and bring your body to a restored or relaxed state. Rather than letting things overflow and overwhelm you, this proactive approach makes you more resilient to stress

Member Tip: In both your live heart rate graph and Daytime Stress feature in the Oura App, you’ll see when your body has switched into this mode — noted as Restorative Time or “Restored.”  

5. Find a creative hobby  


“Reading and crocheting have really helped lower my stress levels!”


“I like to listen to lofi hip hop music”   

Why it works: Coloring, crocheting, and journaling are creative outlets that involve focusing your attention on an enjoyable task. They activate the brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine and lowering cortisol, and help you feel safe and at ease. These mindful activities can channel your emotions and foster self-expression, providing a positive distraction from your current stressors. 

READ MORE: How Journaling Can Improve Your Health — And How to Make it a Habit! 

6. Read (or listen to) a book

“Reading a novel”

“Getting into the flow state at work does it for me. Mostly that’s reading.”

“I start my morning every day by reading my book!”

Why it works: Immersing yourself in a compelling book while cuddled up on the sofa sends your body and brain the signal that you’re safe. This shuts down your fight-or-flight response, lowering your heart rate and increasing your skin temperature — a sign that your body is at rest.

Reading fiction, in particular, has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, stress, and mood. This is because it stimulates your imagination and provides a form of escapism. 

7. Avoid caffeine

“Quit coffee completely.”

“Getting rid of coffee”

“Cutting back on caffeine”

Why it works: Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It works by blocking adenosine and increasing cortisol and adrenaline. While this is an effective way to perk up when you’re feeling tired, it activates your body’s stress response. That’s why if you drink too much caffeine, you start to experience stress symptoms: jitters, rumination, anxiety, and a racing heart rate.

If you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, decreasing or eliminating your intake is an effective way to lower your overall exposure to stress. 

Member Tip: Use the Tags feature to track the effects of caffeine on your HRV and Daytime Stress levels. 

8. Do a low-intensity workout

“Exercise (usually low-intensity steady state cardio)”


“Moving my body – cycling”

Why it works: Ask anyone how to lower stress, they’re probably going to mention exercise! But there is nuance to it. Low-intensity exercise reduces stress in the moment, while high-intensity exercise can increase stress in the moment, but it can improve your resilience to stress over time.

However, if you want to lower physiological stress in the moment, a HIIT workout might not be the best choice.

Yoga, Pilates, cycling, and low-impact workouts are gentler on the body. They don’t spike your heart rate but do increase blood flow and help you breathe deeply, which helps you manage stress in the moment. 

READ MORE: Defining Low, Medium, and High-Intensity Movement & Using Oura to Track It

9. Consider a stress-relief supplement 

“Sleepy girl mocktail (magnesium and tart cherry juice) before bed”

“Kava root.”

“I’m taking CBDA every morning and it works wonders.”


“Ashwagandha and Rhodiola”

Why it works: Some Oura members use supplements like Ashwagandha, CBD, magnesium, and tart cherry juice to lower their stress levels. The research varies on the efficacy and safety of these supplements, and before starting any new supplement, speak with a medical professional. 

READ MORE: 9 Science-Backed Herbs and Supplements for Better Sleep

10. Connect with your partner 


“More sex”

Why it works: Getting cozy with a loved one releases endorphins and oxytocin, the love hormone. This helps you feel relaxed and socially bonded, which lowers stress. 

11. View sunlight 

“Getting sunlight”

“Stepping outside for some sunshine”

Why it works: There’s a reason it feels so good to sit in the sunshine. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, a cascade of stress-relieving benefits occurs, including the synthesis of vitamin D and the release of serotonin.  

LEARN MORE: The Benefits of Morning Sunlight & How to Make it a Habit

12. Spend less time scrolling

“Less screen time”

“Less social media”

Why it works: Staring at a screen for endless hours is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a major stress trigger, thanks to an onslaught of information or upsetting content, as well as disruptive blue light. Take breaks from your screen throughout the day and put the phone away before bed to ensure a more peaceful, less stressful evening experience. 

RELATED: How Blue Light Impacts Your Sleep