Whether it’s work deadlines, family responsibilities or personal challenges, stress can easily creep in and take its toll on our mental and physical well-being. That’s why Stress Awareness Month, observed annually in April, serves as a reminder to pause, take stock and identify strategies to manage stress more effectively.

What’s great is that there  are plenty of simple, low-cost or even free methods that can help alleviate stress and promote a sense of calm and balance in our lives. Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: They help train your mind to focus on the present moment, rather than worrying about the past or future. Many resources offer free guided meditations online or through smartphone apps like Insight Timer or Headspace. Taking just a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness can make a significant difference in your stress levels.
  2. Get Moving: Exercise is not only beneficial for your physical health but also for your mental well-being, and there are plenty of low-cost and no-cost ways to stay active. Take a walk or jog in your neighborhood, do bodyweight or chair exercises at home, or follow along with free workout videos on YouTube. The endorphins released during exercise can help reduce stress and boost your mood.
  3. Connect with Nature: Take advantage of local parks, nature trails, or simply sit in your backyard or balcony and soak in the sights and sounds of nature. Nature walks or picnics are inexpensive ways to enjoy the great outdoors and de-stress. 
  4. Practice Deep Breathing: Deep breathing exercises are a simple yet effective way to reduce stress in the moment. Find a quiet space, sit or lie down comfortably, and take slow, deep breaths, focusing on filling your lungs with air and then exhaling slowly. Deep breathing triggers the body’s relaxation response, helping to calm your nerves and reduce stress levels. Everyday Health has a great introductory guide to deep breathing.
  5. Engage in Creative Activities: Engaging in creative activities like painting, writing, gardening, or playing a musical instrument can be therapeutic and provide a welcome distraction from stressors. You don’t need expensive supplies or special talents to get started – simply explore activities that bring you joy and allow you to express yourself creatively.
  6. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family or support groups when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, just talking to someone who understands can provide relief and perspective. Many communities offer free or low-cost counseling services, hotlines, or support groups for people dealing with stress or mental health issues. If you’re providing care for a loved one, be sure to take time for yourself. We offer five free hours of respite by trained Community Partners a week. Get more information here, and then let’s talk.

Now take a deep breath, embrace some self-care and let go of some stress — this month and every month – you deserve it!