Monthly Health Message:

Finding Pleasure and Relaxation to Relieve Stress

May 2014

Karen Ensle Ed.D., RDN, FAND, CFCS
Family and Community Health Sciences Educator, Union County

Finding Pleasure
When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress. You don't have to do a lot to find pleasure. Even if you're ill or down, you can find pleasure in simple things such as chatting with a friend or reading a good book. Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 15 minutes. Here are some ideas for finding pleasure:

  • Start an art project (oil paint, sketch, or create a scrap book).
  • Take up a hobby, new or old.
  • Read a favorite book, short story, magazine, or newspaper.
  • Have coffee or a meal with friends.
  • Play golf, tennis, ping pong, or go bowling.
  • Sew, knit, or crochet.
  • Listen to music during or after you practice relaxation exercises.
  • Take a nature walk -- listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers.
  • Watch an old movie on TV or rent a video.
  • Sign up for an exercise class at your local YMCA.
  • Play cards or board games with family and friends.
Daily Relaxation
Relaxation is more than sitting in your favorite chair watching TV. To relieve stress, relaxation should calm the tension in your mind and body. Some good forms of relaxation are yoga, tai chi (a series of slow, graceful movements), and meditation. Like most skills, relaxation takes practice. Many people join a class to learn and practice relaxation skills. Deep breathing is a form of relaxation you can learn and practice at home using the steps listed below. It's a good skill to practice as you start or end your day. With daily practice, you will soon be able to use this skill whenever you feel stress.
  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap or lie down. Close your eyes.
  2. Picture yourself in a peaceful place. Perhaps you're lying on a beach, walking in the mountains or floating in the clouds. Hold this scene in your mind.
  3. Inhale and exhale. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply.
  4. Continue to breathe slowly for 10 minutes or more.
Try to take at least five to 10 minutes every day for deep breathing or another form of relaxation.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences