Contributed by: Judy Charuhas, LMHC, NCC, CCPT and EMDR Certified, Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, IMPOWER
April 2024

1. Get Active

It’s time to get up and start moving. Though walking in nature is one of the best stress relievers, almost any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Try one of the activities below.

  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Taking an exercise class
  • Yoga
  • Cleaning your house
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Boxing
  • Pilates
  • Stretching

Therapist Tip: Check out Youtube for chair exercises if movement is hard for you. Here is walking video you can watch while doing your chair exercise. There are even walking videos that take you on a journey through various countries!

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

A balanced diet should include fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, legumes, and nuts. If you find yourself struggling to eat healthy, try teaming up with a buddy. When eating better is a shared goal, it can be easier to achieve.

Therapist Tip: Check out MyPlate for an example of portion control and a balanced diet.

3. Avoid Unhealthy Habits

Some people may deal with stress by relying on unhealthy habits. This may include drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, smoking, eating too much, or using illegal substances. Anything you are doing in excess is a signal that things are out of balance. Continuing these unhealthy habits can harm your health and increase your stress levels long term instead of lowering them.

Therapist Tip: Not sure what is too much? Journal for a week and see how much your habits add up to at the end of the week.

4. Meditate

Meditation is an ancient technique that has helped people de-stress for centuries. You can practice guided meditation, guided imagery, mindfulness, visualization and other forms of meditation anywhere at any time. For example, you could meditate when you’re out for a walk, or in-between appointments.

Therapist Tip: Try a meditation app or Youtube to show you how to do these exercises. You can practice deep breathing anywhere!

5. Laugh More

You’ve probable heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine.” Well, it’s true! Watch a comedy, funny videos, subscribe to joke of the day or check out a comedy club show! Focusing on the positive rather than the negative relieves stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response.”

Therapist Tip: Just get laughing.

6. Connect With Others

When you’re stressed and irritable, you may want to isolate yourself. This leads to the saying “now you’re sitting with bad company.” Reach out to family and friends and make social connections. Even one good friend who listens can make a difference.

Therapist Tip: Volunteering at your church or a charity helps you while helping others. It can also get you out of negative thoughts.

7. Get Enough Sleep

Stress can cause you to have trouble falling asleep. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep can suffer. Sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

How well and how long you sleep can affect your mood, energy level, focus and overall functioning. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you are practicing good sleep hygiene. You should also have a quiet relaxing bedtime routine.

For example, this might look like:

  • Having a warm bath.
  • Listening to soothing music.
  • Making sure the area you sleep in is a cool, dark, and quiet place.
  • Putting your phone and tablets away
  • Sticking to a regular schedule.

Therapist Tip: keep a notepad next to the bed and if a thought concerns you write it down to review the next day.

8. Get Musical and Be Creative

Music therapy is just now coming into its own. Listening to or playing music is a wonderful stress reliever. It can provide a mental distraction; lessen tension and lower stress hormones. A great way to incorporate music therapy is to pick a song that makes you feel happy or relaxed when stressed.

Therapist Tip: It helps to set a timer and listen to music as you fall asleep.

9. Seek Counseling

If your stress won’t reduce regardless of what you try, you may want to think about therapy or counseling. You also may consider therapy if you worry a great deal, have trouble carrying out daily routines, or meeting duties at work, home or school.

As an added bonus, therapy will also help prevent feelings of being overwhelmed or trapped by teaching you how to set boundaries and confidently say no. You can contact IMPOWER here to sign up for therapy sessions today.

Therapist Tip: Professional counselors or therapists can help you find the sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.

10. Limit Social Media and News Exposure

Have you been doomscrolling  lately? If so, take time to put your phone down, unplug, and detach from social media. Try limiting the time you spend watching the news. Removing yourself from negativity can give you a fresh perspective.