Stress Reduction Tips


  1. Cultivate social supports, such as family, friends, church and other
  2. Pets have been shown to reduce stress.
  3. Reconcile relationships – anger, bitterness, feuding, and unforgiveness
    all contribute to emotional stress.
  4. Serve others.  Giving to others is empowering and has been shown to
    increase life expectancy.
  5. Rest – escape, relax, sleep in, nap, turn off the phone, walk, hobbies,
    music, get way.
  6. Get outside in the sunlight for at least 20 minutes daily.  UV
    light improves mood.
  7. Laugh.  Humor has been shown to reduce stress
  8. Cry if you need to.
  9. Create boundaries.  It’s ok to say “No”.
  10. Envision a better future for yourself.  Set goals.
  11. Be thankful.
  12. Be gracious.  Treat people better than they deserve.
  13. Pursue a relationship with God – faith, worship, prayer and meditation. 
    The majority of research studies show a positive correlation between faith
    and health.
  14. Consider obtaining professional counseling if you are having difficulty
    with the above recommendations.


  1. Make sure you’re following the tips above as your emotions affect your
    physical energy level.
  2. Remove bad habits from your life (tobacco, alcohol or other substance
    abuse, laziness, etc.)
  3. Proper nutrition.  You are what you eat.  Eat a balanced diet
    that is high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lean meats and dairy. 
    Avoid fats, sugars and excessive salt.  A Mediterranean diet has been
    shown to be heart healthy.  Avoid skipping meals (particularly
    breakfast) and eating after 7pm.  See Weight Loss Tips for more
  4. Exercise – to improve sense of well being/self-esteem, better sleep,
    reduce depression and anxiety, increase alertness, decrease fatigue and
    assist with weight loss.  There are 5 components to exercise –
    cardiopulmonary (aerobic) endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance,
    flexibility and body composition.

    • Aerobic conditioning – start with 30 minutes and work up to 60
      minutes, 5 times per week.  Aerobic activity must be sustained in
      at least 10 minute segments to be effective.  These activities
      (walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc.) raise heart rate and improve
      cardiopulmonary conditioning as well as expend calories.
    • Muscle strengthening and endurance – isometric exercises with
      weights improve muscle strength and endurance.  Pilates can be
      helpful to improve core strength and flexibility.
    • Try to exercise in the morning.  Research show that continuance
      rate for exercise in the morning is 75% vs. 50% for afternoons and 25%
      for evening exercisers.  Exercising in the evening can disrupt
    • Get an exercise buddy to encourage persistence and have more fun.
  5. Make sure you get enough sleep.  See Sleep Tips. Naps (less than 1
    hour) can be helpful.


  1. Don’t over-schedule.  Leave yourself some breathing room and down
    time.  Plan for free time.
  2. Learn to say no, so that you can say yes to the things that really
  3. Turn off the TV (video games and computer as well).
  4. Keep your life simple.  The more activities and stuff you have to
    maintain, the less time and money you have for things that really matter.

Main References:
Richard Swenson, MD, Margin (Colorado Springs:  NAVPRESS, 1992).
Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, Boundaries (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1992)