Stress Awareness Month



Stress is our body's natural response to threats.

The combination of reactions to stress is also known as the "fight-flight[-or-freeze]" response which enables people and other mammals to react quickly to life-threatening situations(1). Traumatic events are shocking and emotionally overwhelming situations that may involve actual or threaten death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity(2). We know through research that unhealthy, stressed out, tired and unhappy individuals struggle with overall health(3). We also know that stress can lead to a compromised immune system(4) and serious mental health complications such as anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders and addictions.


In sum, if we want to focus on increasing overall health and decreasing risk for mental illnesses, one of the first places to start is in managing stress.


The COVID-19 crisis is surely exacerbating our stressors. The constant bombardment of news, statistics and imagery presents a challenge. Likewise, isolation due to quarantine can physically separate people from their support structures. Nonetheless, we can work around these barriers and reduce stress effectively by implementing techniques that have been proven through science.


50 techniques for managing stress:


  1. Take our Stress Management courses on the Sharpen app

  2. Try the Mindfulness courses on the Sharpen app

  3. Talk to Someone

  4. Journal for 5 minutes a day

  5. Stretch

  6. Use the arts as a stress management tool

  7. Read

  8. Write

  9. Draw

  10. Sing

  11. Play an Instrument

  12. Create a Film

  13. Take a Walk

  14. Sit on a Bench

  15. Call a Friend

  16. Create a Poem

  17. Experience Something Beautiful: A Sunset, A Quiet Moment, An Animal in Nature, etc.

  18. Organize a shelf, drawer, your car, desk, etc.

  19. Cry

  20. Breathe

  21. Paint

  22. Write Your Novel

  23. Take a Yoga Class

  24. Teach Someone a Mindfulness Exercise

  25. Create Something Beautiful -- a craft, project, awesome dinner, anything.

  26. Volunteer for a Cause

  27. Watch a Film

  28. Knit

  29. Lay in a Hammock

  30. Do One Kind Thing For A Complete Stranger

  31. Place Inspiring Quotes on Your Mirror / Desk / Wall

  32. Research Someone You Admire and Learn All you Can About Them

  33. Pray

  34. Create a List of Things You Have Always Wanted To Do

  35. Try One Thing On Your "To Do" List

  36. Reach out of your comfort zone: embark on a new career, tell someone what you really need from them, take a class on something you have always wanted to learn, take care of the phone call that has been hanging over your head.

  37. Write down 10 things you are grateful for each day

  38. Go hang out with friends

  39. Turn negative thoughts into positive actions and practice affirmations

  40. Take yourself on a date and see if you can learn something new about yourself

  41. Keep a "going well" diary: write down three things that went well for you today and WHY they went well. Keep this up for 7 days.

  42. Read books on mindfulness, meditation, positive psychology and grit

  43. Cook a delicious, nourishing, colorful and creative meal.

  44. Eat ... follow your hunger cues and eat something that helps you manage stress

  45. Go for a run or to the gym and work out the stress there

  46. Find a new hobby or 'positive' habit

  47. Learn some "Thrive" techniques on the Sharpen App

  48. Attend the "Cope" trainings on the app

  49. Do nothing -- sit and acknowledge your pain or frustration

  50. Call a mentor, priest, therapist, friend and talk


(1) Harvard Health Publishing. Understanding the Stress Response. Retrieved via: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

(2)International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. What is Traumatic Stress? Retrieved via: https://istss.org/public-resources/what-is-traumatic-stress

(3) Gable et. al 2012 (4) American Psychological Association, 2014

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