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Psychologist, De-stress Thyself

A Seasoned psychologist fesses up to her struggles with keeping stress at bay. Here she encourages everyone to BE SMART about managing stress.

Early in my career as a clinical psychologist, I presented a stress management seminar to 150 teachers. Racing to the seminar through a horrific traffic jam, shortly after hospitalizing a suicidal client in the middle of a 13 -hour workday, while grieving the death of a close family member, I reeked of stress. Quite humbled, I affirmed, “Psychologist, De-stress thyself.”

In recent weeks, I schedule doctor appointments for my husband who has advanced COPD, figure out the nuances of providing counseling via telehealth, reach out to clients regularly, struggle to find essentials like toilet paper, sanitize credit cards and food items after shopping, juggle finances, worry constantly that my husband will contract COVID-19 and try to be a positive resource for clients. More than ever, I need to de-stress effectively. 

Over the years of observing my own life and the lives of many clients I served, I have identified seven major factors that affect stress: Body, Emotions, Space, Money, Attitude, Relationships, Time (BE SMART). Here are tips to de-stress. 

Seven Tips to BE SMART about Easing Stress

Care for your BODY.

Although those tantalizing brownies and gooey pizzas offer the illusion of easing stress, they merely provide a temporary distraction and the additional stress of extra pounds. Strive to eat 80% good stuff and 20% fun stuff. Eating a generally healthy diet with a few treats will minimize feelings of deprivation and keep you reasonably healthy. When pressed for time, find mini exercises like dancing to a favorite song until you can get to the gym for a workout followed by a rest in a heavenly whirlpool.

Honor Your EMOTIONS.

They serve a purpose. Feel them fully and understand what they mean. Often, they tell us that something is awry in your life. Addressing these underlying issues will ease allow for a more natural release of unsettling emotions.

Declutter your SPACE.

Also, create a special place to relax. When possible, use space efficiently with creative use of bins, boxes and wall shelves. Remember tip #7 for cleaning up that clutter.

De-Stress by Managing MONEY well. 

When tempted to buy something new, ask yourself, “Do I truly love it? Do I absolutely need it?” If the answer is “no”, then don’t buy it. All the rest is junk that clutters your space. Shopping is a quick fix for lifting mood but spending a little time in nature or watching a good movie will do the trick just as well. If you lost or fear that you will lose a job, check out these steps to making a career decision

Develop a Better ATTITUDE.

Focus on what you can control and what is going well in your life. When you find yourself ruminating about problems, ask, “What can I do to solve the problem?” After making a sincere effort to find solutions to problems, focus on letting it go. Then focus on more positive things that make you laugh or smile, like the blog, Pet Ways to Ease Stress.

Nurture RELATIONSHIPS that boost your mood and confidence.

Limit or avoid the ones that don’t. This is a tough one because most of us aim to be nice. However, there are times when relationships are too toxic to sustain. No matter what other people do, count on pets to be loyal and unconditionally loving.

Use TIME well by avoiding procrastination.

When you have a dreaded task, like mountains of clinical paperwork, pursue the task for five minutes. If you can’t stand it any longer, stop and try the next day again. Eventually, you will get into my zone to get the task done.

None of this new. None of this is magic. As I often say to myself, Psychologist, de-stress thyself, I know it takes practice, patience and discipline to follow these strategies. This is where support groups, therapy, good friends, journaling and reading can be a huge help. When life deals blows that throw things off balance, it’s easy to sink back into old bad habits. When this happens, nurture yourself, figure out what you most need, and slowly move back on track to taking better care of yourself.

We will all get through this. 



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Psychologist, De-stress Thyself

Jessica Loftus

Jessica Loftus has worked as a licensed clinical psychologist and national certified career counselor for more than 20 years. She currently offers counseling sessions via telehealth in Illinois. Her website,, outlines steps for making a career decision. details. See her retired blog, "Pet Ways to Ease Stress,"

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APA Reference
Loftus, J. (2020). Psychologist, De-stress Thyself. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 Apr 2020
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