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:
Take our Stress Management courses on the Sharpen app
Try the Mindfulness courses on the Sharpen app
Talk to Someone
Journal for 5 minutes a day
Use the arts as a stress management tool
Play an Instrument
Create a Film
Take a Walk
Sit on a Bench
Call a Friend
Create a Poem
Experience Something Beautiful: A Sunset, A Quiet Moment, An Animal in Nature, etc.
Organize a shelf, drawer, your car, desk, etc.
Write Your Novel
Take a Yoga Class
Teach Someone a Mindfulness Exercise
Create Something Beautiful -- a craft, project, awesome dinner, anything.
Volunteer for a Cause
Watch a Film
Lay in a Hammock
Do One Kind Thing For A Complete Stranger
Place Inspiring Quotes on Your Mirror / Desk / Wall
Research Someone You Admire and Learn All you Can About Them
Create a List of Things You Have Always Wanted To Do
Try One Thing On Your "To Do" List
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.
Write down 10 things you are grateful for each day
Go hang out with friends
Turn negative thoughts into positive actions and practice affirmations
Take yourself on a date and see if you can learn something new about yourself
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.
Read books on mindfulness, meditation, positive psychology and grit
Cook a delicious, nourishing, colorful and creative meal.
Eat ... follow your hunger cues and eat something that helps you manage stress
Go for a run or to the gym and work out the stress there
Find a new hobby or 'positive' habit
Learn some "Thrive" techniques on the Sharpen App
Attend the "Cope" trainings on the app
Do nothing -- sit and acknowledge your pain or frustration
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