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to become or cause to become less stressed or anxious
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012


What does destress mean?

To destress means to do something to become less stressed or anxious—to relax.

It is sometimes spelled with a hyphen: de-stress. Both spellings can be used in other, more technical contexts in relation to other meanings of stress. You can destress part of a word when pronouncing it by not emphasizing it, and you can destress a machine or system by reducing the strain on it. In both of these cases, destress is used with an object. In the case of relaxing, destress is commonly used without an object (you can just destress), but it can be used with one, as in I need to destress most areas of my life. 

Example: After a difficult day at work, I like to destress by watching sitcoms.

Where does destress come from?

Destress uses the prefix de-, which indicates removal, such as in words like declutter (“to remove clutter”) and dehumidify (“to remove humidity from the air”). Stress may come from a variant of the word distress, which you should be careful not to confuse destress with. The first records of destress come from the 1920s, but records of its sense meaning “to reduce anxiousness” come later, from the 1980s.

Destress is still used in technical contexts, perhaps most commonly in linguistics. In the context of pronunciation, it refers to deemphasizing (there’s that de- prefix again) certain syllables (word parts) that might otherwise be stressed (emphasized—not, like, burned out from all the work they have to do).

Destress is most popularly used to refer to the act of chilling out—but it’s often used in a slightly more serious way. You can relax at any time, but when you destress, it’s usually because you are very stressed and you really want to actively try to remove the stress you’re feeling. Stress can come from a lot of sources—work, relationships, life in general—and it can cause real problems for our mental and physical health. So destressing is really important. The good news is that there are unlimited ways to do it. Some activities are even scientifically proven to help you destress, like exercising or simply being outdoors. Reading the dictionary is also great way* to destress! When all else fails, try some gool ol’ sitting around and doing nothing.

(*Results may vary.)

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to destress?

  • de-stress (alternate spelling)

What are some synonyms for destress?

What are some words that share a root or word element with destress


What are some words that often get used in discussing destress?


What are some words destress may be commonly confused with?



How is destress used in real life?

When it refers to relaxing, destress is often used informally, but healthcare professionals may also use it in the context of tips for maintaining mental health.



Try using destress!

Which of the following terms is NOT a synonym of destress?

A. chill
B. relax
C. wind down
D. get anxious