Stress Relief Tips

Forest PathStress, an unavoidable hazard of modern life, can overwhelm us with feelings of having little or no control over our own lives. It produces hormones no less powerful than those triggered by the “fight or flight” reaction to a sudden attack by a dangerous animal or another human being. Unlike external physical threats to our safety, instead of being resolved by immediate action, modern-day stress can be unrelenting . . . if we let it.

Having a Life Coach can help you along the way. One antidote to stress is to create an emotional distraction: doing something pleasurable, fun, relaxing or even neutral. The following are proven effective lifestyle tactics to reduce the negative effects of stress:

  1. A good night’s sleep – Seven to eight hours of rest is optimum, and the quality of our sleep is directly improved by creating a dark, very cool, and quiet bedroom.
  2. Nutrition – Eat as cleanly as possible, emphasizing protein, fresh fruits, and vegetables and decreasing processed, packaged foods. Markedly reduce simple sugar in the diet, too much of which creates anxiety and exacerbates stress.
  3. Exercise a minimum of 20 minutes per day – Speed up your heart rate to the point of breaking a sweat if it’s physically safe for you to do so and alternately increase your speed with a slower pace. Take a walk in the early morning without sunglasses, even if only for a few minutes, to get sunshine on your retinas. Don’t stare at the sun. The angle of the rising sun is what makes the difference.
  4. Silently recite prayers and other phrases used in your religious, spiritual, or philosophical practice – Use relaxation CD’s such as “Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace” by Susie Mantel.
  5. Reduce or eliminate listening to radio talk shows and reading/listening to the news for at least a week until you feel better.
  6. Choose soothing music.
  7. Watch movies that you enjoy or documentaries of interest but avoid disturbing or gruesome subject matter.
  8. Become very conscious of being stuck at the keyboard when it’s time for bed, or when you have time for a quick walk or actually talk with a friend.
  9. Cease texting as a mode of discussing anything of significant personal importance, and never text while driving. Far too much valuable human information is lost with abbreviated electronic communication, such as body language, eye contact, and the subtleties of voice. It’s the instant gratification we crave which in and of itself is stress inducing.
  10. Two well-researched, effective daily tactics for dealing with stress are: listen to a relaxation CD such as “Your Present: A Half Hour of Peace” by Suzie Mantell; and sit quietly with your palms up in your lap, eyes open or closed, breathe in deeply through your nose with your diaphragm while keeping your shoulders and chest still and then exhale through your mouth. On every third breath, hold your breath for a beat or two and then release.

For Your Austin Counseling Convenience

For more information, please call (512) 306-9992, or send an email to All inquiries are held in strict confidence. Please understand that no counseling will be provided via the Internet or e-mail. Working with you in person is the best way to help you achieve your goals.

Daytime and selected early-evening sessions are available, Tuesday through Thursday 10:00am to 6:30pm. You may choose from three types of sessions: individual, couples, and family. Please feel free to ask about other possibilities to fit your lifestyle and needs.

Ann McIntosh, MA, LCSW, Counseling and Psychotherapy

4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 5, Suite 513
Austin, Texas 78746


Video produced by Michael Quick of QuickOne Media Ann McIntosh is also listed on the following Web site directories: Psychology Today | | Eating Disorder Referral and Information Service