9 Ways to De-Stress

May is #NationalMentalHealthAwareness month, and what better way to celebrate than by kicking stress to the curb? Here are 9 ways you can get started today!

Counseling. You knew it would make the list, right? So let’s get it out of the way. If you’ve got a counselor, schedule a check-in. If you’ve considered counseling but haven’t pulled the trigger, May is a great time to start! Check out my FAQ page to get the ball rolling.

Change your posture. Research shows that our body language can positively affect our brain chemistry! Sit more openly, take a superhero stance, smile, listen to a comedic podcast, watch some stand-up specials on Netflix, or hang out with your funny friends.

Snuggle up. Giving and receiving affection work wonders for stress reduction! You can start with something light, like giving a friend a hug or getting a massage. For the times when you need more, you can have meaningful conversations with someone you trust, or get flirty and physical with your partner. Love is pretty powerful stuff, and neurobiology is seriously cool.

brain chemistry love GIF


Get moving! The weather in Pittsburgh is making the April showers/ May flowers shift, so it’s a wonderful time for me to get outside, take a run around the block, and dig around in the garden. Whatever your favorite activities are, schedule something this week.

Express yourself. Find a creative way to express your story: put on some music that speaks to you, play with something artsy (or try my favorite messy journal!), get messy, write a blog. Whatever you do, funnel your enthusiasm!

Get by with a little help from your friends. Social time is important, particularly with quality friends who are empathetic, supportive, and authentic. But start small! Greet someone when you pass on the sidewalk or smile at the person in the car next to you. It’s good for you to see smiling faces, and it’s good for the other people, too!

Belly breathing. Yep, it’s exactly as glamorous as it sounds, but it’s something you can do anytime (especially at work since that’s one of the top four stressors in Americans’ lives). Shallow, short breaths are often associated with stress, so slow things down and engage your tummy as you breathe. There are lots of apps to help guide your breathing. (You can check out my instagram for my favorites.)

Let it out. When is the last time you had a good cry? It might be time. Even if you don’t have access to tears on demand, you can always watch a movie or listen to a podcast that brings sadness to the surface. Our bodies cry to release things they can’t figure out how to mange, so why not?

Take a break. (insert naps here) Press pause on non-essentials: social media, social obligations, extra projects, even self-care if it feels like more of a burden than a help. By temporarily stepping away, you free your mind to spend energy on other things, like using different approaches to solving problems.

Give one (or all nine!) of these a shot, and share your favorites with a friend.

Published by Jessica Gage, MA, LPC, NCC

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (license #PC007550) and a National Certified Counselor.

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