stress relief

The Five Freedoms: To See And Hear

The Five Freedoms: To See And Hear

Virginia Satir was a pioneer in the therapy world in bringing amazing concepts to life to help individuals, families, and couples. She looked at the importance of the "experience" of life and how to make it a positive one. She connected the importance of our 5 senses and what impact they have on our experiences.

How to Find Peace in Life Part 3

How to Find Peace in Life Part 3

This week, we are discussing the ever sought after goal of many of our clients— peace.  Peace of heart, peace of mind, a peaceful home, peaceful relationships, or a peaceful work environment. The issues we see in our office that bring couples, families and individuals to therapy may vary, but underneath the presenting problem is usually the same core struggle: Whatever is going on in their life feels chaotic, unsettling, insecure, or just simply without peace.

Ways Pets Improve Mental Health- 3

Ways Pets Improve Mental Health- 3

This weekend we were in the airport and we were reminded of how much animals are helping people cope and enabling them with their mental health. We saw 2 service animals (for mental health challenges) within one hour while waiting to board our plane. I thought it ironic that our blog topic this week was planned to be "Ways Pets Improve Mental Health." People are catching on that our four legged friends are not just companions for the blind or law enforcement but they can actually help those who struggle with anxiety, depression, and other struggles. Today let's talk about how they help us get out of "ourselves".

Decrease Holiday Stress- Watch Your Spending

Decrease Holiday Stress- Watch Your Spending

This week, we have shared some really helpful tips so far in ways to decrease Holiday stress, which helps each of us to enjoy the Holiday season better.  Today I'm going to go over ways we can continue the tradition of giving during the holiday season without stressing ourselves and our bank accounts. 

How to Help Someone Who Cuts Part 1

How to Help Someone Who Cuts Part 1

People have a variety of ways to cope when going thru a hard time. Some people find healthy ways, but reality is that many people seek out ways to cope that are destructive and make things worse. Whether a person turns to addiction, isolating from loved ones, or hurting themselves to ease the pain, if the coping skill isn't promoting a person's emotional health and growth, it can lead down a bad path.

25 Ways To Reduce Stress- 21-25

Who can say that their life is stress-free?  Not many of us can!  Read on for more tips in how to reduce stress in your life... 21.  Be perfectly IMPERFECT.  Remind yourself on a daily basis that your goal is not perfection, but rather to have a fulfilling life.  God did not intend for us to be perfect, which is why we are human.  Striving for perfection only increases stress and ends up constantly feeling as though you have missed the mark or haven't done good enough.  Instead of striving for perfection, think of it as being "perfectly imperfect".

22. Remember to ask for help. Use your support system for what it is intended for-- to give and receive support.  Sometimes, it is difficult to ask for help, but work on not allowing yourself to feel guilty for asking for help when needed.  Many times, it draws us closer to our friends, because they see us in a vulnerable position, which actually allows for a deeper intimacy and connection to develop.  When you never ask for help, or feel guilty for asking, you are actually shutting people out of your life.  If you struggle with shame issues that cause you to feel like you are "being a burden" or "feel like a weak person" for needing help-- work on your shame that keeps you feeling like you should be an "island" and do everything for yourself.  You will inevitably feel less stressed, as a result of having more help and support!

23.  Develop a list of healthy ways of coping-- and USE it regularly.  Is one of your favorite things reading?  Gardening? Running?  Put those on your list and make time for them regularly.  Especially when you are feeling higher levels of stress. Don't allow yourself to turn to unhealthy ways of coping, or self-medicating your pain.

24.  You are the most important person to your child.  Sometimes, this reminder can help give us permission to do things that take care of ourselves.  After all, if you are the most important person to your child (which you are), then your child needs you to be the healthiest, happiest, and most stress-free version of you that you can be.  If you are constantly stressed and aren't taking care of yourself, you can't fully love your child (because you aren't loving yourself).  Kids need to feel a parent's unconditional love and presence on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level.

25.  The only person you can change is yourself.  When we see another person as "broken" and focus on trying to "manage" their lives or "fix" them, we only create more stress in our lives by putting our energy into something we truly have no control over.  It's like pouring all of your emotional, mental and physical energy into a glass with no bottom.  This creates more unnecessary stress.  Plus, other people don't want to be seen as your "project", or something you are trying to fix-- and they probably don't want to BE fixed, anyway, even if you could! It's true that the only thing your can control or fix is yourself.  Stop trying to fix other people and start focusing on the things that bring you joy.

Did you connect with any of this week's tips on stress reduction?  We hope you were able to use them, and start reducing the stress in your life today!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

25 Ways to Reduce Everyday Stress 16-20

16. Make sacred spaceKeep areas of stress and relaxation separate. For example, don't pile the bills and mail up on your nightstand. You will see them first thing in the morning. Additionally, don't make your space you do yoga in the middle of your office where there are bills and papers scattered. Try to create space for you that you know is for relaxation and a space that is for work.

17.Calendars Keep a calendar on your phone or a small paper one in your purse. Keep it with you at all times so you don't miss appointments, possibly creating extra stress and financial strain when you're charged for them. Keeping a calendar also helps you not be required to keep things to memory and frees up mental space, lowering your stress.

18. Keep a routine when possible This one is especially important with kids. The more kids know what to expect, the better things will be. Additionally, adults tend to follow thru more with routine than randomness. Disciplines are usually more practiced when there is a routine. When you know what to expect, you know how to plan, thus lowering stress due to chaos and unexpected things.

19. Be realistic with your upkeep Most of us like to look nice and presentable but there are ways of doing this that shouldn't cause stress. Try to have a hairstyle that is easy to maintain and doesn't require a lot of extra fuss (and stress). Try this with clothes, too. If everything you wear requires a special way of washing or a particular dry cleaner, maybe try some less maintenance clothing. Also note that tight fitting clothing can make you feel confined and less comfortable which could be irritating and cause further stress.

20. Have spare keys How much stress does it cause when you can't find your keys in the morning? Keep a spare in a safe place so you can "borrow" it until you have time to find the others.

Hopefully you are acquiring some additional ways to reduce stress in your life. Tomorrow Joleen will share 5 more. Thank you for reading!

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville

25 Ways to Reduce Everyday Stress 11-15

We all experience stress—there’s just no way around it sometimes. This week we are sharing a few tips to help alleviate stress in some areas that you can control. 11. Sleep- This one may seem obvious, but the average American does not get enough sleep. Sleep can impact everything- from our physical health, depression, anxiety, and even our ability to cope with stress! Make sure you establish a healthy sleep pattern by going to bed at the same time every night, planning for 7-8 hours of sleep, and eliminating distractions in your bedroom.

12. Exercise-Another obvious one! Exercise really is a natural anti-depressant. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, which can help to decrease your stress. It really is true-no one ever regrets a good work-out! It also can boost your immunity to illness and increase your energy level.

13. Go to church- Those that attend a church service of some kind tend to feel less stressed. This can be for a variety of reasons— because you share your burdens with others, have a community of supporters, and have a higher power to help you cope. Praying can also help alleviate stress.

14. Take baby steps-If you tend to get overwhelmed by your to-do list, this one’s for you! Take a big project and break it down into smaller, more achievable steps. Sometimes just taking it one step at a time can help decrease the stress. Make lists and check things off so that you feel a sense of accomplishment.

15. Multi-task- Kill two birds with one stone when possible. This can be as simple as going for an evening walk with the dog, your spouse, and your children. You get exercise, the dog gets exercise, your spouse gets exercise, the kids get exercise, AND you can spend quality time with your family catching up from the day.

Keep reading this week as we discuss more tips to reduce your stress!

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

25 Ways to Reduce Everyday Stress 6-10

6. Ask for help- This is probably one of the top things we have trouble doing the most. Sometimes we're afraid of seeming incompetent or "weak" in other's eyes by asking for help. The opposite couldn't be more true. Asking for help from friends or family allows gives us room to breathe and helps us de-stress our lives. Call on neighbors, friends and family to help with errands, running your kids to practices and school events, and even household chores. 7. Be healthy - We all strive to be healthy, but I think we underestimate the importance of this point. Eating nutritiously and drinking the amount of water our body craves can truly help us reduce stress in our lives. By providing our body the fuel and water it needs, it won't shut down on us as quickly as it would if we filled it with empty calories and sugar. Imagine if we filled a car up with the wrong type of gasoline..... we wouldn't get very far would we?

8. Be realistic - When planning out our day or goals we'd like to accomplish, nothing can stress us out more than setting the bar at an unrealistic level. When planning out our day, we have to make sure we don't put too many "to do's" on our list so that we don't set ourselves up for failure and to feel too stressed out. Secondly, when trying to accomplish goals, break the goals down into the most manageable steps rather than having a large overwhelming goal. Want to lose weight? Set a goal of 5 pounds first. Want to save money? Set a goal of $50 first. Want to switch careers? Set a goal to update your resume first.

9. Save your energy for the important things - When we're looking at the tasks before us and trying to figure out what to tackle first, it's best to prioritize and start with the things that will give us the greatest enjoyment and benefit. We'll feel less stressed when we put most of our energy toward things we enjoy, rather than putting our energy toward things we do not enjoy.

10. Plan ahead for meals - Dinner time is a stressful time! One way to help ourselves out is to plan ahead. Come up with easy to make meals and put all the ingredients on your shopping list so you're only making a trip to the grocery store once (maybe twice) a week. Make enough at dinner to plan for left-overs the next day. Cooking also saves money, so it will reduce financial stress as well. Need help thinking of meals? Try Emeals, an awesome online helper for dinnertime. For a reasonable fee, they provide you with a dinner plan for the entire week (based on dietary choices you pick) and will give you the shopping list, even layed out according to aisle depending on the grocery store!

We hope this list is beginning to help. We have many more tips coming your way. Thanks for reading!

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.



Preventing Burnout- What Is It?

Ever felt completely exhausted in every area? Emotionally? Physically? Mentally? Like life is being sucked out of you just by opening your eyes in the morning.

Burnout happens to many people, but it doesn’t have to be a dead end road. This week Imagine Hope will go over burnout and stress and how to prevent it.

You might be suffering from burnout if:

  • Simple tasks are overwhelming
  •  You have a lack of caring about things that are really important to you, and you just don’t have the energy to put anything into it
  • Every day is a bad day
  • You feel like you have nothing else to give
  • Your stress is excessive and prolonged
  • Caring about work and home life seems like a total waste of energy
  • You are exhausted all the time
  • The majority of your day is spent on either mind numbing or overwhelming tasks
  • You feel under appreciated and that you don’t make a difference

Does any of this sound like you?

Check in tomorrow as we look at the difference between stress and burnout. Now take a breather and do something kind for yourself today to help you distress and avoid burnout!

Source: “Preventing Burnout”

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri does virtual therapy for residents of Indiana and Florida using videoconferencing technology. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling and adolescent counseling.


Taking Care of Yourself Through A Divorce 3

4. Give Yourself a Break- You do not expect to be at your optimal self the day after a huge physical injury do you?  Do not expect to be on your best game after an emotional injury like a divorce.  This will take time to heal, just like a physical injury.  Give yourself permission to not be a super hero right now.  You may not function at optimal capacity and that is okay.  You will heal and be able to resume all your responsibilities as before, after some down time.  Set realistic expectations of yourself and be kind to yourself while you heal.  Just because you do not see your emotional injury, does not mean its not there.  In my experience, if you do not respect the healing process, it will not respect you! 5. Eat Well- This means "no" to devouring a whole bowl of cookie dough.  Many of us either over eat, chose poorly, or simply under eat when we are stressed.  Stress eating exacerbates emotional distress!  Bad eating habits make bad feelings even worse.  Eating healthy foods make our blood sugar remain stable and help avoid highs and lows.  When our blood sugar is out of whack, our emotions almost always follow suit.  So many events in your life may feel out of control right now.  You can make a choice to control what you eat and make it nutritious for your body and soul.  You don't have to discount your comfort food entirely, but do not over do it.

6.  Get outdoors- this one is my favorite to talk to clients about.  There is nothing like being in the woods amongst tall trees or along a large body of water to make you feel so small.  When we realize that we are pretty tiny in the whole scheme of the world, we also realize our problems are even smaller.  So get  outside, feel small, get some exercise while you are at it.  The emotional benefits of exercise are numerous and unbeatable.  Take a walk, ride a bike, go for a swim.  Do what ever it takes to be active.  Give yourself a gift every day of feeling healthy.  When you do get outside and exercise, you eliminate one more thing that you can feel guilty about not accomplishing.

Please remember this is difficult stuff.  You do not have to go  through this alone.  If you would like help with healing from divorce, please contact one of our therapists here at Imagine Hope Counseling Group.  We are happy to help you walk this challenging path.  Please check back as we continue to discuss ways to help heal through painful breakups and divorces.  As always, thanks for reading.



Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield


Decrease Holiday Stress- Emotional Boundaries

Clients tell me all the time, “I hate the holidays”. There are many stressors as people are attending family gatherings and trying to meet everyone’s expectations for the season. This week Imagine Hope wants to share these blogs again that were originally posted 2 years ago.  We hope this helps you stay focused on making this holiday season less stressful! Keep your emotional boundaries firm

Being with family can often trigger old wounds, cause you to fall back into past roles from growing up, and end up with hurt feelings or fights. Because of this, it is key to set emotional boundaries. This is when you protect yourself emotionally from a person who isn’t safe for you. This could be someone who is overly critical and judgmental, creates emotional tension, or someone who triggers emotional pain or stress.

When setting emotional boundaries, you are surrounding yourself with an invisible shield of protection from the unsafe person. This includes lowering your expectations. You should expect them to be how they have “always been” and do what they have “always done”. If you expect it, it won’t hurt as bad. You have predicted the pain- so it has less of an impact. Lowering your expectations for the unsafe person to be somehow different this time will also help your shield to be stronger. This is a process of grieving that relationships may never be what you want them to.  If you set your hopes too high that they won’t do what they always have done, then you are sure to be disappointed. It is common to say to yourself “Of course they did ____. That is what they do” when you have good emotional boundaries.

Stay tuned this week as we cover more ways to decrease stress, including financial tips, ways to not take on too much, and how to beat the need to have everything be perfect! Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Coping With Stress- Part 2

Have you identified the stressful areas of your life so far with this week's blog topic?  Stress is something that is almost inevitable in our society today.  With so many areas of life to balance, stress is bound to creep up on us once in awhile!  Today, we will continue with some additional areas that stress may be causing difficulty, and discuss some tips that can help you with each. Time Management

It's 10:30 at night, and you just got the kitchen cleaned up after doing 4 loads of laundry, writing a thank you card to a friend for a birthday gift, and getting the kids to bed.  You still have a list of 10 different things that NEED to get done before the weekend, but your kids have back to back soccer games at different locations for the next 2 nights, of which you and your husband will split time, so one of you can be present at each of their games to support them (even though you and your husband haven't seen each other alone since last weekend!).  Since you work full time and spend lunch hours running errands, this leaves tonight to get the house cleaned before company comes, among the other 9 things on your list.  Sound familiar?  How in the world do we manage time with the schedules we try to keep?!  When working on time management:

  • Prioritize your list of things to do.  As you complete them, cross them off the list.  Try not to keep adding things, which will only result in feeling more overwhelmed... and more stressed!
  • Say "no" whenever you reasonably can.  This can be much more difficult than it seems sometimes, but try not to take on more than you can handle.  Assess your limitations (physically, emotionally, and mentally), and if saying "yes" exceeds your limitations, decide to "opt out".  Ask yourself if the quality of your commitment will be worth the quantity of your time-- especially if you have very little left in your emotional bank account to give.
  • Plan your tasks during the time of day where you have the most energy.  If you are a night owl, try to plan accordingly.  It will only increase your stress if you set yourself up to fail by planning to get up 2 hours early when you are a night owl!
  • Recognize the various ways you might be likely to "lose" time during the day-- e.g., Facebook, Twitter, television, etc.  Everyone needs "down" time to relax, but if they are adding up to a great deal of time that you end up trying to play "catch up" to, try and cut back on the amount of time you spend with each.
  • Work on "good enough" vs. attempting "perfect".

Diet and Nutrition

  • Try to establish a healthy diet that is balanced with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and beans.  It's amazing how diet can impact our sense of well-being.
  • Limit caffeine and sugar intake.
  • Use vitamin and mineral supplements that are best for your age, gender, and ones that take your specific needs into consideration.

Good Night's Sleep

  • Work on good "sleep hygiene":  Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  Sleeping in can confuse your body, and some sleep research suggests that we can't "make up" for lost sleep.  Furthermore, some research on the brain suggests that different stages of sleep are where we "take off our emotional day"-- almost like how we take off the dirt of the day with a shower/bath, only for our emotions!  If we aren't getting adequate sleep (and if we are already stressed), our brain doesn't have the chance it needs to "take off the emotional day", which will only result in more stress on top of the stress already present!
  • Avoid eating, drinking alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco- particularly close to bedtime.  Anything that stimulates our nervous system can impact our sleep patterns.
  • Best practice is to get eight solid hours of sleep per night, but if this isn't do-able, try to take a 15 minute nap during the day.
  • Have a ritual before bed that helps you relax and prepare yourself for sleep-- a relaxation routine.  Use meditation, read a book for a set amount of time (or until you get sleepy), take a hot bath or shower, or listen to relaxing music.

Other Options

  • Take a vacation-- even if it's a min-vacation or a "stay-cation".  Getting away can help to let go of stressful situations and stressors that are present in our everyday environment.  Sure, they will more than likely still be there when you return, but the "time off" might do wonders for your stress level!
  • Spend time with healthy friends doing something fun and relaxing-- or renew your spirit by going solo to a retreat that focuses on some sort of self- improvement and relaxation.
  • Do some sort of self-care routine:  Go to a spa for a facial, massage, pedicure/manicure, or body buff.
  • Have sex.  Believe it or not, an orgasm from sex can release endorphins that relax the body and help to create a sense of well-being!
  • Look into professional counseling.  We aren't just saying this because we are therapists!  Counseling is like the "gym" for your spirit and emotional well-being.  Self-awareness and growth help to take care of ourselves, which means we have less stress, and that means we can be more productive and effective in other areas of our lives.

Have you noticed any of these areas that might help you with your stress levels?  As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day... and stress doesn't disappear overnight.  As you slowly start to incorporate more stress-reducing tips in your life, it will hopefully become part of your everyday routine.  As always, thank you for joining us this week!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Coping With Stress Part 1

Now that we know what stress is (good stress and bad stress) and have recognized different stressors in life, it is time to learn to cope with it. It's inevitable, right? So we need to learn positive ways to cope. Positive Coping Skills

They say "Laughter is the best medicine" and I would have to agree.

Have you ever noticed your body after a good laugh? It feels relaxed! After a great laugh I feel ready to take a nap! That's because it is relaxing. Your body actually responds to laughter with chemicals that cause you to relax. So here are tips on things to do to encourage this: 1. Be intentional to give yourself a daily dose of laughter everyday- whether it is a comic, a book of funny sayings or pictures, or a funny TV show. 2. Make sure your movies have a mix of comedy in them. Those of us introspective people tend to focus on dramas or something that is educational. Give yourself permission to watch comedies too! 3. Pass along funny emails or jokes to friends and family (tasteful ones of course :)) 4. Learn to laugh at yourself! Don't take everything so seriously.

Journaling is a great stress relief!

1. Journaling is a great way to learn about ourselves and get our feelings/thoughts out of our head and onto paper. 2. Write about your dreams- keeping your journal by your bed at night. Write as soon as you wake up. This can create self awareness. 3. Write about anything you want, as long as you want. This is for YOU and you only.

Breathe! Breathing and Meditation are vital to stress relief!

1. Be aware of your breathing and consciously take breaths in and out. Blow out (like a candle) and breath in thru the nose. 2. Meditation is great because you can be anywhere and do it anytime. Focus on positive thoughts (or prayer). 3. Be comfortable when you practice breathing and meditation, if possible.


1. Exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes for stress relief. 2. Pick something you enjoy, if possible, like walking if you like outdoors. 3. Get a partner or join a class to help you stay on track. 4. Exercise releases chemicals in your body that fight anxiety and depression.

This seems like a lot of information. I encourage you to pick one or two things to start practicing. Then once you have made them a part of your life, add another. It's amazing what a couple of these things can do.

Tomorrow Joleen will give us more ways to cope. Thanks for reading! Have a relaxing, stress-free day!

Written by Natalie Chandler

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville