10 Tips for Reducing Stress

Stress is everywhere. Work, family, finances, health concerns—the list goes on and on. The way we cope with stress plays a significant role in how it affects our daily lives.

When you are stressed out, do you feel defeated? Does stress challenge you? Do you look at stress as an opportunity for growth? It’s tempting to ignore stress by watching mindless TV or hanging out with friends, but that is only a temporary fix.

Caitlin Deady, LCSW, a therapist at Memorial Behavioral Health, provides these tips to reduce stress in your life for the long haul:

  1. Simplify your life. If you are feeling overextended, cross off unnecessary items from your to-do list and prioritize what’s most important to you. Focusing on a couple of items, instead of the entire to-do list, is a more achievable goal.
  2. Simplify your finances. Similar to simplifying your life, cross off unnecessary spending from your budget. Cook a few more meals at home instead of dining out, cancel non-essential monthly subscriptions and prioritize your financial goals.
  3. Learn how to take care of yourself. When we get stressed out, our wellness habits suffer. Make sure you’re eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly and getting “me time.” When you begin to feel overwhelmed, focus on self-care.
  4. Practice gratitude. It’s easy to get caught up in stressful moments that leave you feeling hopeless. Instead, compliment a co-worker or friend, show your appreciation to your significant other or tell your siblings or children how proud you are of them. These simple tasks can mean the world to someone and make their day a little brighter.
  5. Give yourself more credit. It can be stressful when things are at their worst. Go easy on yourself. Learn from your mistakes or failures, but give yourself a break, too. realize you are enough and look back on how far you’ve come.
  6. Set boundaries. Unhealthy relationships can cause a lot of stress. Establishing boundaries shows them you have rules and limits in your life. Also, boundaries between work and personal time allow you to prioritize what is most important.
  7. Focus on today. Each day comes with a list of tasks, but solely focusing on today’s tasks—not tomorrow’s, or next week’s tasks—is difficult. You can control your actions, energy and attention today. Tomorrow will come and bring whatever it brings, but you only get one chance at today.
  8. Tackle one thing at a time. Make a to-do list and prioritize it. Don’t worry about “killing two birds with one stone,” just focus on the most important item. When you’re finished, move on, focusing on the next item.
  9. Find a hobby. This can be an extension of learning how to take care of yourself. Making time for self-care helps us better manage stress. Take a yoga class, sign-up for painting lessons or teach yourself to play the guitar.
  10. Get moving. Today is the day you take control of your life and put into place the techniques you’ve learned to help manage stress.

Have you attempted to reduce stress on your own, but still feel overwhelmed? It may be time to reach out to a mental health professional. Take a free, anonymous screening at MemorialBehavioralHealth.org.

Caitlin Deady is a licensed clinical social worker who provides a full range of mental health services to patients ages 10 and older. Her treatment areas include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, grief, adjustment disorders and coping with life transitions. Her professional experience includes cognitive behavioral therapy, person-centered psychotherapy, mindfulness-based therapeutic techniques and motivational interviewing. She has a bachelor’s in sociology and anthropology from Lake Forest College and a master’s in social work from Illinois State University.