Skip to main content

Looking for a new doctor to talk with about your stress? MetroHealth primary care providers are conveniently located at more than 20 locations throughout Cuyahoga County. To find a provider near you, visit or call 216-778-7800.

From crying and temper tantrums in children, to moodiness and social withdrawal in teens, to irritability and angry outbursts in adults, stress can put a damper on your family’s well-being, says Tanja F. Barco, a nurse practitioner in internal medicine and pediatrics at MetroHealth. When stress is managed well, there are many positive effects.

Fortunately, there are ways you and your family can decompress. Barco offers the following five tips:

Connect with Your Loved Ones

Make Friday night game night. Play Monopoly, Life or some other board game your family enjoys. Fun and laughter can boost endorphins, or feel-good chemicals in the body, lowering stress. Turn off technology and make time for family dinners. Sitting across the table from your loved ones and talking about your day, even two or three times a week, can help families communicate better and relax.

Head Outside

Being in nature can help to reduce stress in both adults and children.

Go for a walk or hike through the Metroparks, explore a local corn maze, or simply let the kids play in the back yard. Exercise helps the entire family relax.

Journal or Meditate

Taking 10 to 15 minutes a day to write about your feelings in a journal or to clear your mind with meditation can promote a sense of calm. Not sure where to start? Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position – sitting, lying down or even walking. Focus your attention on a specific word, object or your senses.

Let distractions naturally come to mind without judging them. While meditating can seem daunting at first, studies show this form of relaxation is worth the effort. For younger children, take time to talk, read or draw about different feelings to help them become familiar with them.

Learn When to Say No

Most families are in “a high stress mode” because of social expectations, says Barco. “We pride ourselves on being busy.” However, long to-do lists leave no time to relax. The answer? Think about what activities are truly important to you and your family. Don’t be afraid to say no when asked to help with a fundraiser or to attend a party or other social event.

Don’t Use Screens to De-stress

People often try to find calm in front of their smartphones. “But with phones, you’re constantly connected to your work email, which can increase your stress level,” says Barco. Tablets, computers and televisions may be fun, but they take time away from children playing or engaging in physical activity, which help lower stress levels. Exposure to blue light from screens can also interfere with sleep. Turn them off to help your children get the recommended 10 to 12 hours of shut-eye a night. Adults typically need 7 to 9 hours.

Positive Effects of Managing Stress

Decompressing can help you stay healthy by:

  • lowering your blood pressure
  • reducing your risk of diabetes
  • lowering your odds of heart disease, heart attack and stroke
  • keeping digestive problems at bay
  • avoiding weight gain
  • boosting your energy levels

Tanja F. Barco, APRN-CNP