April is National Stress Awareness Month, so today, I’m highlighting ways we can soothe and stave off stress in our lives. While stress is inevitable — it’s life, after all — it’s important we have tools at our disposal to cope with it effectively.
Stress can negatively affect how we feel about our bodies and ourselves. It can trigger emotional overeating and anxiety and sink our mood. In short, it can be really overwhelming. It also doesn’t help if the strategies we turn to are detrimental to our health and well-being.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
Here’s a list of 20 strategies along with other resources that might help.
- Find meditations that resonate with you. Here’s one example, and another.
- Develop a daily mindfulness practice. Here are additional ideas.
- Channel your stressed out state into something creative and positive.
- Listen to your body. A body scan can help you sharpen your listening skills. (Here’s another body scan to try.)
- Move your body outside, and enjoy your natural surroundings.
- Move your body in ways that you genuinely enjoy.
- Carve out time to savor and sink into relaxation every day.
- Dig deeper to identify your feelings and needs, so you can meet them.
- Figure out your favorite ways to play, and play regularly.
- Find sanctuary and space in the everyday.
- Immerse yourself in pleasant sensory experiences to ground yourself.
- Give yourself permission to feel your feelings; to feel stressed, frustrated, anxious and upset. Accept whatever you’re feeling.
- Journal about how you’re feeling. Here’s an idea on how to start.
- Journal about what’s stressing you out specifically, and brainstorm possible solutions for each stressor.
- Connect to your self-compassion. Avoid judging yourself, be open to your suffering and extend yourself some kindness.
- Keep things small and simple. Small steps always count. As a creativity expert I just interviewed said, “Drop by drop, you can still fill the bucket.”
- Check in with your self-care. Make sure you’re at least honoring your basic needs.
- Take a personal retreat.
- Honor yourself when it comes to eating.
- Figure out what you can and can’t control. In fact, recently, I interviewed an author who believes we spend too much time and energy hyper-focusing on how each of us can cope with stress instead of looking at stress as a social issue, at the policy level.
You also might find these pieces helpful: 10 techniques to curb stress; 15 ways to alleviate anxiety; 4 ways to prevent stress eating; dealing with stress in eating disorder recovery; how clinicians cope with stress; and signs and tips for stressed-out kids.
P.S., I just wanted to let you know about the “The One Fund Boston,” which was created by the governor of Massachusetts and mayor of Boston to raise money for the families most affected by the bombings. If you’re interested in making a monetary donation, you can do so at OneFundBoston.org.