Tag Archives: stress relief

8 Ways to Remedy Stress on the Cheap

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About the author: Valerie Abitbol, LMFT, owner of Flow Counseling, PLLC  received her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University. She is a counselor and therapist in Denver, Colorado who specializes in couples and  women dealing with major life transitions. We have re-posted an article from her blog here.

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Don’t break your piggy bank yet. Here are a few cheap remedies against stress. Start here and now!

Here’s my “prescription”: Practice at least two of the tools below every day to increase your resilience to stress, and get back to feeling more grounded, faster.

1- Don’t be a hamster, breathe!

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Yes. It really is that simple. So basic. But when we’re stressed, we forget about our breath; we tighten it, hold it, or simply have a hard time breathing normally. Having less oxygen circulating in your body and your brain will increase your stress and/or anxiety.

And there you are, the little hamster stuck in the wheel.

Here are 3 different options depending on the time/place:

Option 1:

Make it a habit to take a deep breath every day when getting up, leaving the house, getting in/out of the car, going to a new place, meeting new people, before eating, and when noticing tension in the chest or the body in general. Think of the breath during transition points, from one activity or place to another.

Option 2:

Inhale on 4 counts – hold the breath two counts- exhale on 8 counts. Repeat until you feel calmer.

Option 3: 

Take a deep inhalation, filling first your belly with air, then moving to your chest. Hold the breath for two counts. Exhale, emptying fully the chest and belly. Repeat 10 times and continue as needed.

2- Flex those muscles

Practice some progressive muscle relaxation:

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First, tense a muscle group in your body, such as your calves, thighs or shoulders.

Hold it for a few seconds.

Next, release the tension and notice how your muscles feel when you relax them.

Repeat with other muscle groups as needed.

For a guided version, you can download my free progressive muscle relaxation audio recording.

Note: Very important! Always check with your doctor before doing anything physical, especially if you have any medical conditions or injuries.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation | Flow Counseling | Denver
Valerie Abitbol MA, LMFT


3- Show your stress the way out

Option 1: When stress starts to go up but is manageable: go for a leisurely walk around the block, focus on the breath and surroundings. Notice the colors around you, the smells, noises, touch some trees. Feel the ground supporting you.

Option 2: When stress becomes more intense: alternate walking one block quickly, with running or walking faster the next. When you start feeling better, slow down and go to option 1.

Include any other physical activities beside walking/running that you enjoy. Go at the speed that feels right for you at that moment. Today may be different from yesterday.

And of course, do what you can based on your physical shape, health situation, and seek medical advice first.

4- Bathe your mind in calm

Bring to mind soothing and calming images of people or pets in your life, things, places and memories. Anything that helps make you feel safe, loved, supported, peaceful, and helps you calm down.

Stay with the image and notice as many details as you can to make the image more vivid.

Notice how it makes you feel in your body, as well as the emotions, and sensations you experience. Let your mind connect freely, from one positive experience to another, and follow the trail.

5- Meditation…

meditation mindfulness  stress denver therapy valerie abitbol

I recommend you use “static” meditation (vs. walking meditation) once you feel a little calmer, to help you maintain and reinforce that state. It can be frustrating at the beginning to try meditating when you feel restless. Use one of the more physical tips above first to release some tension.

If you have a meditation practice, go for it. If not, you can use a guided meditation app. Regular use will provide the most benefits. Here are few free ones I like:

The Mindfulness App for iOS and Android

Headspace for iOS and Android

Stop, Breathe, and Think  for iOS and Android

6- Playful and relaxing activities

Remember when you were a kid?

Wrestle with your partner, your kids or nieces and nephews – have a tickle fight, jump on your bed… bring back the silly and lightness that goes with it.

Take your dog for a walk, play with your pets, or simply give them a long petting session. You’ll both get benefits out of it.

7- Give yourself the spa treatment

Do I even have to mention massage? No matter what kind (back, foot, neck, from partner or professional), get one, or do it yourself.

Get a foam roller similar to this one on Amazon, and start rolling.

Here are a few ways you can use it. How to use a foam roller.

overwhelm stress denver counselor valerie abitbol

Take a warm relaxing bath at end of the day, include essential oils, candles, music… soak in for a  minimum of 10 min.

And if you have more time available, consider making a de-stress trip to some hot springs.

Here’s a list of 30 Hot Springs in Colorado if you’re local.

8- Naps

Short naps can be very beneficial to manage your stress better.

Go for 15-20 min and remember to set a timer. Wash your face with cold water after waking up to feel more energized.

Try at least two of these tips on a regular basis and leave me a comment to let me know how they are working for you.

If none of these hit the spot, consider getting some professional help to get to the root cause and find more customized tools. Just don’t keep letting stress be in charge of your life and relationships.


ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

Learn more about our programs.


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Is it just that simple? Appreciation and breathing as a formula for stress relief

Think stress is an inevitable part of life at Stanford? Think again.maxresdefault

While most of us have more stress in a normal day than our bodies are designed to handle, understanding and managing that stress is in our control.

BeWell talked with Fred Luskin, Ph.D., head of the Stanford University Forgiveness Projects, about the physical and emotional toll that stress puts on the body and mind. Dr. Luskin offers some simple tips that can make a difference in reducing daily stress.

Q: How does stress manifest itself?
A: Stress manifests as a sense of threat that is felt in the body through increased heart rate and muscle tension, in the mind as extra alertness, and in the emotions as anxiety, anger or fear.

Q: Why is stress harmful?
A: Stress is harmful when it lasts too long or when the situation is not really dangerous, but we respond as if it is. Stress is a full-body response that over time can weaken a person’s most vulnerable organ system. We also get used to our normal level of arousal and if that normal level remains too high we lose physical and mental bandwidth.

Q: What practical advice can you offer?
If you have a persistent problem, take 30 seconds and try to solve it. It sounds simple, but instead of stressing, complaining and feeling sorry for yourself, ask yourself, “Is there a simpler way through this?” Make sure you are not overlooking an obvious solution. Many Issues can be solved with simple, direct and kind communication.

In other words, yell less and think and act more constructively.

Q: Is there a simple change that can help?
Two of the simplest and most important practices are:

1. Regularly appreciating what you have and holding on to the feeling for 10 seconds;
2. Breathing slowly and deeply for 20 seconds throughout the day. Really focus on expanding your belly, which helps you let go of the stress you hold in your core. We hold our residual “fight or flight” impulses here. When you create a sense of safety inside of you, you reduce your mind’s desire to “catastrophize.”

Q: Any final words . . .
Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten (laughter). I should know because my wife is a kindergarten teacher and we have the same curriculum. Be nice. Use your words. Hold hands when you cross the street. Seriously, try and re-frame your problems as challenges, and communicate your feelings often and with care.

This blog post originally appeared on Scopeblog, the link is https://bewell.stanford.edu/features/thoughts-on-managing-stress


Fred Luskin, Ph.D. Biography

Fred Luskin. Ph.D. is a professor in the Psy.D. program in clinical psychology at Sofia University. He teaches the clinical assessment sequence, as well as quantitative research methods. He also chairsfred-luskin.jpg the research ethics committee and has an extensive background in assessment and research, as well as teaching positive psychology.

Frederic is a senior consultant in wellness and health promotion at Stanford University, where he teaches the positive psychology class. He also teaches forgiveness and stress management to groups around the United States. He is one of the most recognized researchers and teachers of forgiveness in the United States. He has clinical licenses as a marriage and family counselor, educational psychologist and clinical psychologist. He also holds credentials in counseling and school psychology.

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