10 Mental Health Tips to Make Your Life More Relaxed

10 Mental Health Tips to Make Your Life More Relaxed

Stress is a natural part of life. Feeling stress is by itself an okay thing. Its purpose is to trigger our fight or flight response when danger is presenting itself. Stress alerts us when it is time to make a change. However, it’s important to remember that stress, left untreated, threatens both our mental and physical health.


We all know that to beat stress and feel more relaxed, we are supposed to do things like exercise and eat healthy. Though these are good things to do when you’re stressed, to live a more relaxed life overall, more is needed.  In order to make a significant change in your life and your mental health in regard to stress, there are more things you can do. As a mother of two and a business owner, I experience my fair share of stress. In addition, throughout my career, I’ve counselled many individuals and families who struggle with a significant degree of stress in their lives. Here are ten mental health strategies that I’ve found to be helpful in making long-term and positive changes to your overall stress levels.

10 Ways to De-Stress Your Life

  1. Establish supports.

    We’re not meant to go through this life alone. We all need people in our lives that we can lean on with our frustrations and stresses. Simply knowing that you’re not alone is a de-stressor. When you feel overwhelmed by stress, find someone in your network to talk to. Even if they’re not able to do anything, it’s helpful to share your frustrations, and to have someone listen. You also may benefit from a fresh perspective on your situation. Regularly connecting with friends and family will help ensure that you have support when you need it. In addition, to build a lasting support network, make sure to be that listening ear for others in your life when they need it too.  

  1. Let your supports challenge you.

    Most often we are stressed about something because we have unhealthy thinking habits that are causing us more stress. While it’s tempting to talk to others that see things our way, we can try talking with a friend or family member who can challenge our perspective. When we’re in the middle of a difficult situation, it’s easy to think only about the negatives. Talking with someone who is willing to be honest with us, and help us see the bigger picture, can help bring us back up from a negative spiral of thoughts.

  2. Count your blessings.

    Learn to identify the positives. If all we look at is the negative, we begin to feel very down and stressed. When we are aware of the positives in our lives, we are more able to be relaxed and not allow the little stresses to overwhelm us. Sometimes all we need is a little reminder. If you find yourself focusing on the negative, find a way to make the positives in your life easy to remember. Call a close friend or family member and have them remind you. Or, try writing down some positive truths, and hang them in a spot where you’re likely to see them each day. Sometimes we need to see and hear the truth to let it sink in and change our perspective. Whatever you choose to do, just be sure to make the positives in your life easy to recall.

  3. Don’t assume others’ motives.

    When someone reacts to us in a way that makes us feel offended, try to not to assume the worst of them. Everyone has his or her own stressors. Maybe the lady in the grocery store who rushes by you is not trying to be rude, but is in a hurry because an emergency has happened with her kids. Perhaps she lost track of time and her kid will be sitting on the side of the road after being dropped off by the bus. Or maybe the person who is driving too close to you and honking their horn is on their way to see a friend or family member in the hospital. Making assumptions and becoming angry in these circumstances only hurts us and increases our stress.

  4. Know your priorities.

    Though the demands of life can seem endless, we simply can’t do everything well. If we’re not careful, we can easily become overcommitted and overscheduled. Between work and social and family obligations, it can easily get to a point where we feel like we are constantly running around. When we know what our priorities are, we’re able to make better decisions about how to spend our time. It becomes easier to say no and not allow our schedules to become over packed.

  5. Pick your battles.

    When you know your priorities it makes it easier to pick your battles. Engaging in every possible argument will leave you feeling more stressed and defeated, and you’re not likely to see progress. Yes, it’s frustrating when your kids throw their coats on the floor when they come in. And they still haven’t picked up that mess they made three days ago. Your spouse left the dirty dishes in the sink again and spent money you didn’t have. The potential battles of life can be endless. By picking your battles and focusing on only one thing at a time, you’re more likely to feel less stress, and more likely to see progress.

  6. Take breaks.

    It is easy to feel like we have to work as hard as we can for as long as we can, but we need breaks. I don’t know about you, but my to-do list seems endless. And it grows…every day. Many of us are guilty of wanting to do so many things on our list in order to feel ‘accomplished’ at the end of the day. However, our minds need breaks. Yes, productivity is a good thing. However, a well-deserved break can help you relax and feel recharged.

  7. Make time for the little things.

    In an overscheduled and hectic culture, it can be easy to miss the little joys in life. For example, when your child wants to give you a hug as you are trying to get them into the car, stop and give them a hug. Hug them as long as they want to be hugged. Or when your friend texts to say hi, take the time to say hi back. These things bring joy to our lives, which will help us feel more relaxed.

  8. Take one task at a time

    When it’s time to focus on working, take one task at a time. Our culture of cell phones, social media, and technology seems to have decreased everyone’s attention span. Jumping from one thing to another can be stressful and leave things undone. Use your priority list to stay focused on what needs to be done first and continue on from there. There’s only so much of you to go around.

  9. Forgive yourself

    When you don’t get everything done, forgive yourself. A lot of our stress comes from our own negative thoughts about ourselves. We are not perfect, and we all need room to make a few mistakes. You still love your family and friends when they aren’t perfect. Don’t you desire the same forgiveness for yourself?

So, in summary, often stress can be reduced by these simple adjustments to our attitude and perspective. It’s not always easy in the moment, but the reward of lower stress can be well worth the effort.


About the Author: Charity Ritter LISW-S

Charity Ritter MSW LISW is one of the founders of LIVE Wellness Center, ltd. Charity received her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work from The Ohio State University. Charity holds a License as a Licensed Independent Social Worker in the State of Ohio. She received her training working with adults at Riverside Methodist Hospital in the Psychiatric Inpatient unit as well as outpatient counselling at Vineyard Counseling Center.

After receiving her degree, she worked with children and families at the Rosemont Center where she received training and experience in working with children and families with a variety of mental and behavioral health issues. She received experience working with sexually reactive youth and in advocating for and providing outpatient therapy for children and families with significant mental health and behavioral health issues.

9 Comments

Donna

Stress is harmful to mental health as well as effect the physical condition.this post describe over come the stress in the daily life.This tips is amazing and useful for all. Thank you for the useful information.

Reply
Elena

Beautiful post. For a long time, I was struggling with depression and anxiety. Everything around me used to discourage me and none of my hobbies used to excite me. But I had no other choice to fight back, so I did. And I am glad that I did.
Elena

Reply
Andrea

Hi,
this is Amber…..liked your article…….I’ve some question for you…what if someone is orphan or differently able?? most of the people like them are calm and not so talkative …..plus they don’t have anyone to look after or support??How would they overcome stress then??what do you suggest for them??

Reply
Cindy

I recently read some interesting facts about what happens to us when anxiety, fear or trauma strike. The mere fact that you have this knowledge can help tremendously. That part of our brain which is called the Amygdala governs our stress, fear and general state of panic. When stress strikes, it goes straight to this almond-shaped part of the brain and over-rides our reasoning ability. On a personal note…I had such an experience recently. The mere fact that I had printed out the information explaining how all this works, helped me to reason my way out of a very worrying place. I look back at the place I was in and than God that I am a reader of all things ‘Psych’.

Regards,
Cindy

Reply
Marsea

Sorry, but IF we could do those things the author suggests we do, at that very moment when anxiety strikes, then life would not be what IT IS.

Reply
Karen - Hey Sigmund

It’s often not possible to do these things when anxiety strikes because the brain is too busy. To work around this, it’s important to practice during calm. The brain strengthens with experience, so the more of something you do, the more automatic it will become.

Reply
Cindy

As always,…spot on Karen. I am usually able to pull back and practice ‘calm’. (reasoning)..I think this helped a lot , plus the knowledge of what was happening to me.

Cindy

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Behaviour is never from ‘bad’. It’s from ‘big’. Big hungry, big tired, big disconnection, big missing, big ‘too much right now’. The reason our responses might not work can often be because we’ve misread the story, or we’ve missed an important piece of it. Their story might be about now, today, yesterday, or any of the yesterdays before now. 

Our job isn’t to fix them. They aren’t broken. Our job is to understand them. Only then can we steer our response in the right direction. Otherwise we’re throwing darts at the wrong target - behaviour, instead of the need behind the behaviour. 

Watch, listen, breathe and be with. Feel what they feel. This will help them feel you with them. We all feel safer and calmer when we feel our people beside us - not judging or hurrying or questioning. What don’t you know, that they need you to know?♥️
We all have first up needs. The difference between adults and children is that we can delay the meeting of these needs for a bit longer than children - but we still need them met. 

The first most important question the brain needs answered is, ‘Is my body safe?’ - Am I free from threat, hunger, exhaustion, pain? This is usually an easier one to take care of or to recognise when it might need some attention. 

The next most important question is, ‘Is my heart safe?’ - Am I loved, noticed, valued, claimed, wanted, welcome? This can be an easy one to overlook, especially in the chaos of the morning. Of course we love them and want them - and sometimes we’ll get distracted, annoyed, frustrated, irritated. None of this changes how much we love and want them - not even for a second. We can feel two things at once - madly in love with them and annoyed/ distracted/ frustrated. Sometimes though, this can leave their ‘Is my heart safe?’ needs a little hungry. They have less capacity than us to delay the meeting of these needs. When these needs are hungry, we’ll be more likely to see big feelings or big behaviour. 

The more you can fill their love tanks at the start of the day, the more they’ll be able to handle the bumps. This doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be enough. It might look like having a cuddle, reading a story, having a chat, sitting with them while they have breakfast or while they pat the dog, touching their back when they walk past, telling them you love them.

All brains need to feel loved and wanted, and as though they aren’t a nuisance, but sometimes they’ll need to feel it more. The more their felt sense of relational safety is met, the more they’ll be able to then focus on ‘thinking brain’ things, such as planning, making good decisions, co-operating, behaving. 

(And if this today was a bumpy one, that’s okay. Those days are going to happen. If most of the time their love tanks are full, they’ll handle when it drops a little. Just top it up when you can. And don’t forget to top yours up too. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it as much as they do.)♥️
Things will always go wrong - a bad decision, a good decision with a bad outcome, a dilemma, wanting something that comes with risk. 

Often, the ‘right thing’ lives somewhere in the very blurry bounds of the grey. Sometimes it will be about what’s right for them. Sometimes what’s right for others. Sometimes it will be about taking a risk, and sometimes the ‘right’ thing just feels wrong right now, or wrong for them. Even as adults, we will often get things wrong. This isn’t because we’re bad, or because we don’t know the right thing from the wrong thing, but because few things are black and white. 

The problem with punishment and harsh consequences is that we remove ourselves as an option for them to turn to next time things end messy, or as a guide before the mess happens. 

Feeling safe in our important relationships is a primary need for all of us humans. That means making sure our relationships are free from judgement, humiliation, shame, separation. If our response to their ‘wrong things’ is to bring all of these things to the table we share with them with them, of course they’ll do anything to avoid it. This isn’t about lying or secrecy. It’s about maintaining relational ‘safety’, or closeness.

Kids want to do the right thing. They want us to love and accept them. But they’re going to get things wrong sometimes. When they do, our response will teach them either that we are safe for them to come to no matter what, or that we aren’t. 

So what do we do when things go wrong? Embrace them, reject the behaviour:

‘I love that you’ve been honest with me. That means everything to me. I know you didn’t expect things to end up like this, but here we are. Let’s talk about what’s happened and what can be different next time.’

Or, ‘Something must have made this (wrong thing) feel like the right thing to do, otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. We all do that sometimes. What do you think it was that was for you?’

Or, ‘I know you know lying isn’t okay. What made you feel like you couldn’t tell me the truth? How can we build the trust again. Let’s talk about how to do that.’

You will always be their greatest guide, but you can only be that if they let you.♥️
Whenever there is a call to courage, there will be anxiety - every time. That’s what makes it brave. This is why challenging things, brave things, important things will often drive anxiety. 

At these times - when they are safe, but doing something hard - the feelings that come with anxiety will be enough to drive avoidance. When it is avoidance of a threat, that’s important. That’s anxiety doing it’s job. But when the avoidance is in response to things that are important, brave, meaningful, that avoidance only serves to confirm the deficiency story. This is when we want to support them to take tiny steps towards that brave thing. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.l and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Brave is about being able to handle the discomfort of anxiety enough to do the important, challenging thing. It’s built in tiny steps, one after the other. 

We don’t have to get rid of their anxiety and neither do they. They can feel anxious, and do brave. At these times (safe, but scary) they need us to take a posture of validation and confidence. ‘I believe you, and I believe in you.’ ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle it.’ 

What we’re saying is we know they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. They don’t have to handle it well, and they don’t have to handle it for too long. Handling it is handling it, and that’s the substance of ‘brave’. 

Being brave isn’t about doing the brave thing, but about being able to handle the discomfort of the anxiety that comes with that. And if they’ve done that today, at all, or for a moment longer than yesterday, then they’ve been brave today. It doesn’t matter how messy it was or how small it was. Let them see their brave through your eyes.‘That was big for you wasn’t it. And you did it. You felt anxious, and you stayed with it. That’s what being brave is all about.’♥️
A relationally unsafe (emotionally unsafe) environment can cause as much breakage as as a physically unsafe one. 

The brain’s priority will always be safety, so if a person or environment doesn’t feel emotionally safe, we might see big behaviour, avoidance, or reduced learning. In this case, it isn’t the child that’s broken. It’s the environment.

But here’s the thing, just because a child doesn’t feel safe, doesn’t mean the person or environment isn’t safe. What it means is that there aren’t enough signals of safety - yet, and there’s a little more work to do to build this. ‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, it’s about what the brain perceives. Children might have the safest, warmest, most loving adult in front of them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel safe. This is when we have to look at how we might extend bigger cues of warmth, welcome, inclusiveness, and what we can do (or what roles or responsibilities can we give them) to help them feel valued and needed. This might take time, and that’s okay. Children aren’t meant to feel safe with every adult in front of them, so sometimes what they need most is our patience and understanding as we continue to build this. 

This is the way it works for all of us, everywhere. None of us will be able to give our best or do our best if we don’t feel welcome, liked, valued, and free from hostility, humiliation or judgement. 

This is especially important for our schools. A brain that doesn’t feel safe can’t learn. For schools to be places of learning, they first have to be places of relationship. Before we focus too sharply on learning support and behaviour management, we first have to focus on felt sense of safety support. The most powerful way to do this is through relationship. Teachers who do this are magic-makers. They show a phenomenal capacity to expand a child’s capacity to learn, calm big behaviour, and open up a child’s world. But relationships take time, and felt safety takes time. The time it takes for this to happen is all part of the process. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the most important use of it.♥️

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