Am I going to make that work deadline? Will I make it to my daughter’s dance recital on time? Is there going to be enough money to pay the rent this month? It seems like stress has become the norm versus the exception. The repeated adrenaline rush can be taxing on the body, let alone the mind.

Try some of these techniques to de-stress:

  1. Be in the moment with one of your 5 senses:

Sight, smell, sound, and taste—you’ll be amazed how quickly the stress melts away when you focus on just one of them. Eat something that you crave and savor each bite. Light a scented candle and breathe in your favorite scent. Listen to a beautiful piece of music and let it take you away. Look at something beautiful in your surrounding that makes you stop and stare.

An alternative approach is the 5,4,3,2,1 technique. Name 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things to touch, 2 things you smell, and one thing you taste. Engaging your 5 senses is a great way to ground yourself in the present moment.

  1. Meditate:

Meditation is a wonderful way quiet your mind. During meditation, you don’t react to your thoughts—you just notice them. To start, settle yourself into a comfortable, seated position and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, and then return to a steady, even breathing pattern. Focus on your breath going in and out, and return to that focus if your mind starts to wander. Even meditating for a minute can make a difference. There are many great resources like You Tube and Apps for meditation.

  1. Call a support person:

In hard times, it is important to stay connected to your support network. If you do not have a support network, try to join clubs/groups of things you are interested in to meet others (Try Calling a friend or family member is key for a distraction or to unwind after a stressful day.

  1. Mindfulness:

Mindfulness helps you check in with yourself—practicing awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and senses in the moment — without judging them. To start, do one thing mindfully each day. Pick a mundane activity like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth, and practice being present in those moments for two minutes.

  1. Practice gratitude:

We can’t have joy in our lives without practicing gratitude. Gratitude helps to rewire your brain to think about the positives. Each day, write down three different things you’re grateful for. Studies have shown that doing this right before bedtime helps lower depression too.

  1. Do relaxation exercises:

Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This is done by starting at the muscle groups at one end of the body, and working through to the other end. For example, curl your toes tight, then squeeze your calves, and so on until you get to the face (make smiling the last one).

  1. Expressing yourself:

Write about your stress in a journal. You also can journal about positive experiences that happened that day. This daily practice can help rewire your brain to think more positively. Adding three items of gratitude works well with journaling too.

  1. Exercise:

This is free medicine! Doing 30 minutes of an aerobic activity (biking, running, swimming) or 60 minutes of walking, is proven to reduce anxiety, depression, and helps induce sleep. Exercise is a great stress reliever that releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals in the brain) and helps you blow off steam. When you head out for a run/walk at a stressful time, it can provide a perspective that allows you to return to the situation in a new frame of mind.

  1. Immerse yourself in a creative outlet or learn a new hobby:

Doing something creative that you enjoy, like cooking, painting, coloring, or taking pictures can give you a break in a stressful situation. Or try playing board games with friends/family, doing crossword puzzles, or reading. Make a list of things you have always wanted to do – even revisiting that list daily and putting items into action is a great approach to self-care.

  1. Practice breathing exercises:

Focus on your breathing and push all other thoughts aside. Be conscious of the breath coming in and going out, and focus on the sensation of expanding your lungs with inhaling/exhaling.

Or, try the square breathing technique:

  1. Inhale your breath as you count to 4.
  2. Hold your breath for 4 counts.
  3. Exhale your breath slowly as you count to 4.
  4. Hold your breath for 4 counts.
  5. Repeat for a few minutes until you feel calm.

Practice makes perfect – and if one technique does not work, try another. Also, try to make this a daily ritual – self-care can never be overstated. You could make a rotation schedule on your calendar as a reminder – it would keep things interesting and is not time consuming. Share these techniques with your friends/family when you see they are stressed. Now, go zap that stress!

By: Rhonda Heath, from My Psychiatrist, Boca Raton, FL office



Emma, L. (2021, November 16). 10 Quick Ways to De-Stress. Retrieved from Virtua Health: