by Linda K. Laffey, MFT

Adapted from a prior article on stress and anxiety.

Often people just need to find relief from busy lives.

Stress is a natural biological response and a powerful motivator.

Most of us accept it as the necessary adrenaline push to get things done.

It focuses our energies and helps us rise to various demands.

In fact, our fast-paced lives seem to necessitate a stressful pace.


But stress can be a runaway train.

Don’t we talk about stress overload all the time?

Aren’t we constantly saying how “stressed out” we are?

Our relationships, careers, and the morning commute are trying.

Our schedules, finances, and even the nightly news are nerve-racking.

Our bodies, minds, and emotions are unbalanced and overextended.

What could you do to spare yourself the anxiety and ailments that accompany a stress-saturated lifestyle?


Is there any thing you can change to begin restoring your peace and balance right now?

Yes!  Incorporate the following changes to help you feel better fast:

1. Breathe deep.

Take a break from rushing around.  Stop checking your lists.  Breathe.

Does it feel strange to take a deep breath?

When things get hectic or we feel frantic, we often deprive ourselves of the vital, mind-clearing oxygen that calms and soothes our mind and body.

Inhale.  Slow your pulse with deliberate breaths.

Exhale.  Relax.  Repeat.

2. Evaluate your chief stressors.

Take a close look at your life.

What irritates, debilitates, or isolates you?

Identifying your triggers can provide self-awareness and direction.

Make sure the stress is worth the trouble.

Where you are able to, trim unnecessary activities and interactions that keep you on high alert.

Avoid, amend, or eliminate your stressors wherever possible.

3. Eat, Move, Sleep.

Headaches, digestive trouble, and insomnia are often stress-related.

Are you hurting or worn down by stress?

Pressure and stress take residence in our bodies over time.

Quality self-care will help reduce the strain on your body and improve your ability to rest.

Embrace a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a regular bedtime routine.

4. Unplug.

Unrelenting phones, tablets, and laptops dole out streams of electronic stress.

Can you unplug without becoming unhinged?

Social media, unrealistic work hours and expectations make it easy to remain “on” all day every day.

Tune out periodically for the sake of your mental health.

Find more about electronic stress at

5. Reserve a Refuge.

Sometimes nothing relieves stress like a vacation.

When was the last time you pressed your own “reset” button?

Time to recharge is often the first sacrifice people make in order to keep up a demanding pace.

Whether your arrangements are physical or mental, make time to get away.  Your sanctuary can be a calm uncluttered room or a quiet corner where you keep a journal to pour out your thoughts.

6. Engage your senses.

Broaden your thinking and stimulate your mind in fresh ways.

Is most of your energy focused only on the sources of your stress?

Try a sensory experience that you find inspiring or restful.

Let the scents and sights of nature, calming music, or a rejuvenating massage soothe and shift your perspective.

7. Seek out a good listener.

Allow someone calm and balanced to be there for you.

Do you know a person who will hear your struggles non-judgementally?

Friendship helps make many stressful situations tolerable.

A healthy support network often offers peace and clarity.

Small, intentional steps will help you keep stress under control.

Stress does not have to derail you.


You can slow the train and stay on track.

If you feel your stress levels are increasing despite your efforts, try setting aside some time with a therapist.  Therapy may be a helpful way to determine the root of your upset, correct detrimental coping methods, and provide support.  There are also advanced methods for significantly reducing your stress in just a few therapy sessions.  I have extensive training and experience in these methods and would love to have the opportunity to share them with you.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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