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Mental Health Awareness Series: Easy Ways to Relax and Reduce Stress

Mental Health Awareness Series:  Easy Ways to Relax and Reduce Stress

Mental health is a BIG topic, and rightfully so.   The state of our mental health affects everything within our body, from the way we think, feel, and act to our overall health and quality of life.  Think of the brain as your central computer that controls your entire body.  The brain controls MAJOR functions in the body such as these; your thoughts and decisions, memories and emotions, movements, balance, coordination, breathing patterns, heart rate, temperature control, regulation of organ function, speech, pain perception, the list goes on.  Now, begin to imagine what can go wrong when we allow our mental health to fade or don’t spend time taking care of our mental health.

Mental health is vital at every stage of life, from unborn children in their mothers wombs, throughout adolescence, and the entire duration of adulthood. It is never too early or too late to begin developing or improving your mental health.  With that said, let’s dive into some lifestyle habits that will help you, your children, and your family improve the state of mental wellbeing.  

We have all been there, let’s be honest.  We decide we want to make a change in some area of our lives, we set some really ambitious goals, we set up a game plan, all to fail a month or so later.  We were so excited and prepared, why did  we fail?  Most of the time it is because we made it too complicated.  As a health coach I stress the importance to my clients to “Keep it Simple!”.  I have found this to be the key to success in so many topics of life.  Do a few things, and do them well, and once you have those mastered, move forward with more.  I say this to help you feel at ease when reading the list below.  There are a lot, and I mean a lot of things you can do to improve your health.  As you read below, notate some of the lifestyle habits that are achievable for you and that you feel you could benefit from the most.  From that list, choose 2 or 3 things to incorporate in your life at this time.  Choose to practice those 2-3 things each week for 1 month before adding anything new.  Today let’s focus on the topic of relaxation and reducing stress.

Let’s face the facts, life is more stressful than ever for the majority of Americans.  The key to both of these is the ability to acknowledge what helps you relax and what triggers stress.  From there, you can creatively analyze and find ways to add more of the positive things and manage or eliminate the negative. 

Let’s start with relaxation. Right now, envision yourself in your most relaxed state.  Imagine you are completely relaxed and stress free. Where are you?  What are you doing?  How do you feel?   For me personally, I would be sitting on the beach, listening to the waves and feeling the warmth on my skin.  Now obviously I can’t just move to the beach and escape to the coast every time I want to relax.  I wish it were that easy.  What I can do though is imitate that experience.  I can run a warm bath, play soothing beach sounds on my phone, light a coconut candle, and imagine myself right where I would love to be.  This is a little bit of an elaborate example I know, so here are some other simple ways to include relaxation into your week.

Exercise!! Get up and move!

Studies have proven that exercise increases endorphins, leading to a bump in “feel good” neurotransmitters in your brain!  We also know that exercise helps improve your health, sense of well-being, self confidence, and so much more!  You don’t have to exercise every day for 2 hours to reap the benefits.  Try to shoot for at least 30 minutes, more if you have time, 3 days a week!  There are so many at home workouts online to follow.  Something is better than nothing!

Plan a time of relaxation, just for you, that you look forward to each week. 

Plan something small that will give excitement to your week and give you something to look forward to.  It could be something as small as Friday game night with the family, a Friday evening at home spa night, an hour alone playing golf, or an evening out with a friend.   

Do something you enjoy!

Doing things you enjoy distresses the mind and body. Take a walk on your lunch break a few times a week, and invite a friend to walk with you if desired!  Pick out a new recipe to try on the weekend or order take out if it makes you relax more by not cooking!

Spend quality time with those you love.

Plan time to do something enjoyable with someone special in your life, even a pet!  This doesn’t have to be an expensive night out on the town, maybe you just sit for 30 minutes and color with your child.  Maybe you eat at the dinner table instead of in front of the TV.  Silence the other things going on in life and engage in the presence of being with your friend, loved one, or cuddling with your furry friend!  

Schedule “mini breaks” throughout the day.

Stepping away from your computer to clear your mind can be a super beneficial way to relax and reduce stress at work, even if for only 10 minutes.  

Give yourself some tech-free time.

Phones and computers can add a lot of stress to our lives that we don’t even realize!  Try to take a break from the screens, read a book instead of scrolling on social media, or just erase the stress of the constant notifications popping up.   

Find a way to be creative.

Doing something creative can help distract you from difficult thoughts or feelings.  Time alone being creative can also help you process emotions and work through them.  You could try drawing, baking, or a new hobby.  Don’t worry about the finished product, just focus on enjoying yourself.

Spend time in nature.

Spending time in nature outdoors can help improve your mood and reduce feelings of stress and anger.  Take time to notice the beauty of nature and the blessings that come with living on God’s green earth!  There are beautiful things to be seen all around you when you slow down and take the time to notice. Gardening is a beautiful way to be both creative and enjoy nature at the same time.  Plants don’t judge you, and that’s why we love them so much!

Journal or write.

Studies have shown that journaling or writing can help you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns.  “Brain Dumping” your thoughts and emotions on paper can be a freeing exercise that can help erase mental stress.  Journaling can also help you track your emotions day to day so that you can recognize triggers and learn how to better manage them.  One simple way to journal is to write down 3 things, first thing in the morning, that you are grateful for.  This is an easy way to practice gratitude and spark happiness by acknowledging your blessings at the start of the day.  

There are so many categories of mental health, each of them having their own importance.  I hope you gathered some inspiring ways to relax and destress this week, and throughout your life.  In this busy world we live in, you may think “how can I manage to find the time”?  The fact is, you may never find the time, you have to MAKE THE TIME.  I encourage you to MAKE the time to prioritize your happiness and mental health by practicing simple ways to destress and relax! You deserve it!

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