Low stress activities for high stress days

We're all pretty stressed right now, and with it being the middle of summer break for most, there might not be much for y'all to do right now. I've rounded up three easy calming activities that require a few supplies that you might have lying around your house, or could be picked up for relatively little money from your local grocery or crafting store. I've also included a list of books at the end of this post that have some more tips and tricks for calming down when stress is high.

You can also check out our eSource Creativebug for more calming crafts.


1. DIY Lava Lamp

This is based on this tutorial from the blog No Guilt Mom. You can navigate to their tutorial or follow along with my instructions below! They also talk a little bit about how the lava lamp works with these particular materials.


  • Water bottle
  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets

3 photos of a small water bottle, 1/3 full, with the label taken off the bottle and purple food coloring added.

To begin, peel the label off your water bottle and either drink or pour out enough water that there's only about a third of the bottle full. I used a small 12 fl oz bottle, because it uses less materials! Then, add food coloring of your choice and shake or stir the water until the food coloring is evenly distributed.

3 photos: a small water bottle with purple water and yellow oil; a broken up alka-seltzer tablet; and part of an alka-seltzer tablet being added to the water bottle.

Next, you'll want to add vegetable oil to the bottle; be careful with this! If you have a funnel, I'd recommend using it, and make sure you have paper towels under the bottle to catch any leaks. After this, it's time to make your lava lamp work! The above tutorial used two Alka-Seltzer tablets, but their water bottle was much larger than the one I used. I ended up using one tablet, broken into a few pieces. Then, add the pieces of the tablet one at a time and watch the reaction between the tablets and the water! (Make sure you keep the cap off the bottle when you add the tablet because otherwise it could burst!)

2 photos of DIY lava lamps, with the alka-seltzer tablet reacting with the water.


2. Calming Glitter Jar

There are a lot of tutorials for calming glitter jars, including this one here by Martha Stewart. You can follow along with hers, another one you've found on your own, or the one I've got written up below!


  • Water bottle or glass jar (one you can seal)
  • Hot water
  • Glitter glue or clear glue
  • Glitter
  • Larger glitter (optional)
  • Food coloring (optional)

3 photos: glitter glue being dumped into a glass drinking jar; the glass jar with pink-tinted water; and glitter being added to the bottle

For this one, you'll want to fill your bottle most of the way with hot water, and then add your glue. If you have glitter glue, you might have to put the water and glue in a bowl and whisk it; otherwise it might not dissolve properly. (I also don't recommend using regular white Elmer's Glue, because the water will end up weirdly milky looking.) If you don't whisk it, close the container/bottle and shake really hard! If you choose to use normal clear glue, it might be harder to notice when the glue has dissolved. The glue increases the viscosity of the water which will make the glitter fall slower.

After that, you'll want to add your glitter—and you can go crazy with this! Big glitter, small glitter, lots of different colors—it's all fair game! I added some of this cool fake snow type glitter, and it adds a really nice effect to the jar as it falls.

Fake snow glitter

You can also add food coloring at this stage. Between the glitter and glitter glue, the water in this bottle ended up nice and pink, but that might not always happen. And then, once you've added everything you want, put the lid on nice and tight, and shake away!

2 photos of calming glitter jars, one with large glitter being added and one with the glitter bottle shaken up with the glitter settling

There are lots of different ways you can make your glitter jar look, and there are lots of materials you can use. In the photo below, the bottle on the left was made using a small glitter glue pen, so it settles very quickly. The middle one was made with almost a quarter of a bottle of glitter glue, so it settles very slowly. The gold one on the right was made with less glue, so it settles at a really nice rate.

3 calming glitter jars: a small pink one, a larger pink one, and a medium gold one.

Give it a shot, and experiment to see how yours turns out!


3. Chair Yoga

There are lots of tutorials for easy yoga poses out there. If you're anything like me though, you might spend a lot of time sitting in a chair, with terrible posture to boot. I know that I find some quick and easy chair yoga poses to be super helpful for stretching out a little bit while I'm in the middle of working on a long project.

This walkthrough by Ann Pizer is probably my favorite, because she includes GIFs of what the poses are supposed to look like as you move through them, and, as a yoga beginner, I find that to be extra useful!

An image of the "forward bend in chair" chair yoga pose.

(Unfortunately GIFs don't work on our website, but this photo was taken from the above walkthrough to give you an idea of what it looks like!)


Also, don't forget to check out the awesome zen coloring round up that I did a few months ago—there's nothing quite as relaxing as coloring, in my experience. You can find that post here.


Further Readings


Cover of Fighting invisible tigers: stress management for teens by Earl Hipp 101 Ways to Conquer Teen Anxiety by Thomas McDonagh & Jon Patrick Hatcher Cover of My Anxious Mind: A Teen's Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic by Michael Tompkins & Katherine Martinez Cover of Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You by Deborah Reber Cover of Yoga for Your Mind and Body: A Teenage Practice for a Healthy, Balanced Life by Rebecca Rissman


Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens by Early Hipp

101 Ways to Conquer Teen Anxiety: Simple Tips, Techniques and Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Panic Attacks by Thomas McDonagh & Jon Hatcher

My Anxious Mind: A Teen's Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic by Michael Tompkins & Katherine Martinez

Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You by Deborah Reber

Yoga for Your Mind and Body: A Teenage Practice for a Healthy, Balanced Life by Rebecca Rissman