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  • Writer's picturedrmollybarrow

Stress Reduction Tips

Updated: Oct 5, 2019

Our doctors and therapists warn that stress is the cause of many illnesses and reduces the quality of sleep, relationships and well being. Yet, how can you reduce stress without shirking your duties and responsibilities? Everyone dreams of running away to a French chateau as they are driving the carpool in heavy traffic. However, usually we do not need to change our lives drastically to make substantial improvements to our health and happiness. Here are six steps for type A personalities and overworked moms to use to reduce stress in their minds and their lives.

1. Remember when you were eight years old? What did you think you would be doing when you grew up? Were you a fireman? Visit a firehouse and ask if they need a hand. Were you a ballerina? Enroll in an adult ballet class and for one hour a week be a beginning prima donna.

This works because switching professions to a beloved childhood dream, even for a few hours a week, takes you back to childhood fantasy and freedom that is lost for most adults. Play and stress dissolves.

2. Take a body break. Lock the door and lie down on the floor in a sunny spot (use a mat if you wish). Pretend that you are in acting class and be a cat. Take in the warmth of the sun on your skin. Elongate your body and add several inches of length. Widen your body, spreading your arms, shoulders and legs. Stretch and release. Breathe deeply and writhe your body in a sensuous feline stretch. (No one is watching.) After five minutes return to your normal activities, unlock the door and tackle your problems from a more relaxed and lighter sense of being.

3. Eating alone tonight? Be your own special guest. Use china and fancy goblets, linen or at least decorative paper napkins. Design your plate the way the cookbook glossy photographs present the food, even if it is a simple salad. Chew slowly, listen to music and pretend you are in a movie made in the thirties. Be elegant and enjoy your delicious dinner because you matter to you. Standing up in the kitchen wolfing down 800 calories is negative in every possible way. Treat yourself like a winner; your opinion of yourself dictates your ability to be successful.

4. When you are ninety years old what do you want to be remembered for most? A clean kitchen? PTA President? Most sales for your company? Or a rich full life with luxurious relaxation and a myriad of new adventures and activities? We can only do a few things well in a lifetime. You have to pick your top desires and let all the rest go. Learn to delegate those tasks in the nicest possible manner. Swap favors, combine trips, invite your childrens friends over often and in exchange earn free afternoons for your exciting new life. With each moment of satisfaction, you will feel freer and more self actualized, protected from the din of daily stress.

5. Stress narrows our lives to small slivers of repetitive irritation and unmet demands, especially at work or balancing the budget. However, earning money is only the means, not the goal. The answer to, What do you do? does include your work, but also your burning desires and goals in life, your entertainment and joys, your loves and losses. Think big and broad, with a far reaching vision when you reply. Feel no need to justify why you love what you love.

6. Stress is poisonous frustration and pressure that can be dropped and forgotten anytime you choose. Unbearable stress may motivate you to make urgent changes. These changes may free you to fully live your life your way. If you had one month, a week or only one day to live, what would you do differently? What words would you regret having not said or actions having not experienced? Sometimes that could mean not fulfilling the expectations that other people have created for you. It is, after all, your life. Make time to begin to do some of those things now that really matter to your life.

Dr. Molly Barrow earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor and educator in private practice. She is the author of the Malia & Teacup children's books, Matchlines for Singles; and Step Parenting Essentials. Dr. Barrow is a relationship expert helping individuals, couples, families, and co-workers improve their relationships and communication skills. Her commentary and advice column, quotes, radio show, interviews, and articles are enjoyed worldwide in O Magazine, Psychology Today,, Parenting, Morning Blend,, Progressive Radio Network, New York Times, Newsday, and Women’s Health.

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