5 Cultural Approaches to Managing Stress: Should You Try These?

By Krista


Last Updated: February 17, 2023

Stress can paralyze us and prevent us from achieving what we want in life.

We might feel overwhelmed or flooded with emotions. Physically, stress can even impact our sleep and digestion, throwing another curveball into our already chaotic life.

Luckily, there are many ways to manage stress. However, let’s take a stroll off the beaten path, shall we? Maybe you’ve tried meditation, journaling, gratitude, and more. And sure, they work. But what else can you do to relieve your stress? 

Unsurprisingly, different cultures across the world combat and prevent stress in many different ways. So, let’s take a look at some cultural approaches to managing stress that you might just want to try!



5 Cultural Approaches to Tackle Stress

Many cultural approaches are rooted in a vast and rich history. In fact, many of the stress relief techniques below have been used for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. So, which ones should you try? 


1. Do a Hammam 

Hammams, also known as a Turkish baths, help rid the body of toxins. This ritual can be self-performed or performed by someone for you (In fact, in Morocco and Turkey, this is a must-do when you go to any spa!). 

Basically, a hammam goes as follows:

  • Resting in a steam room
  • A full body exfoliation with a scrub mitt
  • The use of a soapy body wash
  • A full body mask (In Morocco, this is often done using clay and/or black soap.)
  • A full body massage for moisture and stress reduction

I did this in Morocco, and the experience was ultra-relaxing. Not going to lie that, at first, it was a little awkward since the last time someone else scrubbed me down, I was probably a toddler and in dire need of help with proper hygiene from my parents. As an adult, this isn’t something that we’re used to.

However, once you choose to overcome that awkwardness, it’s actually really relaxing. It forces you to let go. Plus, afterward, you feel completely at peace (and your skin is silky smooth!). Ours was topped off with tea and special biscuits to enjoy while we basked in our relaxation glow.


2. Go To a Mexican Temazcal

This isn’t a super easy experience. Thus, if you’re currently undergoing stress, this might not be for you. However, it can be very enlightening, as well as show yourself how strong you really are.

A temazcal is a Mexican sweat lodge ceremony. But it’s not just a couple of minutes. The whole ceremony takes place over the course of an hour or two (and it gets hot!). I remember sitting in this hut in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, drenched in sweat, literally fighting with myself to remain calm. 

Basically, the ceremony involves “four doors.” Each time, the door closes for a set period, and it gets hotter and hotter in the sweat lodge. The floor is wet. You’re covered in sweat and water from the steam. It’s very mentally challenging. But the end result is quite invigorating and very stress relieving. 

In fact, there’s evidence showing that this traditional sweat lodge ceremony can help reduce depression and even help cleanse the body of various toxins. All of this helps relieve stress. 

Related Article: What is Positive Stress? The 5 Keys to Understanding Eustress & Distress


3. Try a Finnish Sauna Experience

You don’t need to go to Finland to experience this stress-relieving practice!

Many spas around the world offer a Finnish spa experience, often dubbed the “Thermal Experience.” The basics are sitting in a sauna. Yeah, it doesn’t get very complicated. Ideally, you want to bask in the sauna for about 5-10 minutes. 

Taking this to another level, you then can go do a quick “polar dip” or roll in the snow, followed by a brief rest. After, you repeat the cycle over again.

Now, there’s tons of evidence showing this to be highly beneficial for stress and overall health and longevity. In fact, you can find countless studies on sauna therapy and cold exposure. All you need to know for now is that you’ll feel good and level-headed after even just one session.


4. Taste the Power of Jamu

Jamu is a herbal drink from Indonesia consisting of ginger, turmeric, and other herbs or spices. The idea is that these spices and herbs help relieve stress in the body by preventing disease and illness. But you don’t have to go to any special shop for this drink!

Many women actually sell it on the street. It can also be found in various shops or coffee shops in parts of Indonesia, such as Bali.


5. Take a Siesta

Surprisingly, the idea of a siesta midday began in Spain so that farmers and laborers would rest during the highest temperatures of the day. 

And even more surprisingly, a lot of this cultural practice is still around in Spain and surrounding countries today. For instance, you’ll notice many businesses close up for an hour or more at midday. While most go home for lunch, this has roots in those siesta traditions!

So, what’s a siesta? Basically, it’s a nap or, more notably, a “power nap.” 

Sleep is well-known to help relieve stress and calm the body. In fact, sleep deprivation is associated with increased cortisol and stress, which can turn into a vicious cycle of not being able to sleep. So, while you’re working from home, why not try this out when you get overly stressed? 

Related Article: A Life of Less Stress: 7 Thoughtful Things for You to Consider



Which One Will You Try?

While these cultural approaches to stress that you try out might come down to availability or accessibility, they can really improve your overall wellness and health (it’s not just about stress!).

Furthermore, on your next holiday, maybe the location will depend on the cultural practices above. After all, the point of a vacation is often to relax and unwind!

Read Next: 10 Stress-Reducing Foods to Help You Unwind and Relax

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