Five Quick & Easy Ways to Chill Out

Business Man Relaxing During stressful dayWe’ve all been there – tight shoulder muscles, an annoying headache and no energy. Stress affects our physical health as well as our mental health.

“Most visits to a doctor’s office are due to stress-related conditions,” said Ruta Kulys, a licensed clinical social worker at Memorial Counseling Associates. “Stress affects our sleep, appetite, energy, mood and concentration. Stress also interferes with our body’s ability to function properly and maintain health.”

To undo the effects of stress, you need to learn how to deeply relax. 

Memorial Counseling Associates offers a five-week Relaxation Group to teach effective methods that allow the systems of the body to slow down and find their balance. As your body relaxes, breathing slows, your heart rate decreases and blood pressure falls. When a person learns to relax their body, they regain a sense of calm and well-being.

“I see many people who experience depression and anxiety related to stress, but I also see women come in for issues like infertility and sexual problems due to stress,” Kulys said. “By de-stressing, we help our body find its balance and allow it to function the way it is intended to function.”

Here are five quick and easy ways to reduce stress:

  1. Get active. “Physical activity helps beat stress,” Kulys said. “You don’t have to be an athlete or in great shape to exercise. Even short periods of activity can make a difference.”
  2. Laugh. By laughing, we create positive physical changes in the body. Rent a funny movie, read a comic or tell a joke.
  3. Sleep. “It is easier to take on the world after a good night’s sleep,” Kulys said. “Make sure you are allowing enough time to get the amount of sleep your body needs to function at its optimal level.” If you wake up tired, make arrangements to go to bed earlier. If you can’t sleep, talk to your physician.
  4. Stop. It’s important to periodically stop what you are doing and take a few deep breaths. Unclench your jaw and relax your shoulders.
  5. Connect. Spend time with people you like. Connect with friends and family. Social support is an important element in balancing life’s stressors.

The Relaxation Group at Memorial Counseling Associates is open to the public, and most participants are eligible to have the group’s fee covered by their health insurance. The first step is an individual session with Kulys, the group leader. Call MCA at 217-788-4065 to schedule the individual session by March 30. For more information, visit

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