6 Self-Care Secrets to Reduce Stress

"and breathe" in neon on a ivy wall

To be stressed is to be alive. And however uncomfortable it makes you, it is a universal feeling that is a part of the imperfect human experience. Stress saps your energy, causes fatigue, and increases negative thoughts that can contribute to anxious feelings. Fortunately, there are ways to build up a healthy response to stress that can even reverse the uncomfortable feelings over time.

The most basic and important way to mitigate stress is by taking care of yourself. It may sound simple, but your mind and body are connected in powerful ways and by maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental reserves, you can actually prevent and manage stress.

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How Talkspace De-stresses

Woman in citrus bath

Stress has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of consciousness. It’s an instinctual reaction to perceived threats, originating as humans made their way up the food chain. Gone though are the saber-toothed tigers and growling bellies of our ancient past. Our new threats are red bubbles with numbers in them, and politically-charged talk radio over hour-long commutes.

Prolonged stress takes its toll. Over 70 percent of Americans report experiencing physical and psychological symptoms caused by their stress. Productivity loss and health care related to stress costs employers close to $300 billion annually, according to the same American Psychological Association study. Stress has reached epidemic proportions, and how to cope with, or manage modern stress has become a literal “billion dollar question”.

In honor of “Stress Awareness Month”, Talkspace asked our therapist community and co-workers to share their favorite ways to de-stress.* We hope you discover some beneficial new stress management solutions!

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Can You Be Addicted To Stress?

Man with laptop looking stressed

Feeling stressed out lately? If so, we’re not surprised.

According to a 2015 American Psychological Association study, 24 percent of Americans experience extreme stress on a regular basis. A similar study in 2017 found that 63 percent of the U.S. worries about the future of the country, 62 percent about money, and 61 percent about work, and stress levels have been steadily increasing over the last decade.

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6 Things To Do When Your Partner Is Stressed

Couple holding hands on the street

Life is stressful. Work can be demanding, family life can be taxing, and so can our relationships, finances, and health-related struggles. Just turn on the news or open social media and your blood pressure is apt to rise. Really, there are so many things that can be triggers for stress, and we all experience our fair share of them on a daily basis.

Equally stressful is when we watch our partners suffer from heightened periods of stress. It can be upsetting to witness and can even create tension within our relationships. Perhaps the most difficult part is that we desperately want to help, but often feel bewildered about what the best approach might be.

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5 Reasons Masturbation is Great for De-stressing

Woman with a hand on her skirt and tattoo on leg

While it’s likely that the concept of masturbation was a source of stress when you were younger (because when you’re 11 it’s easy to believe masturbation can, indeed make you go blind), solo sex is great for your health. In fact, the mental health benefits of masturbation are so bountiful that I’d go so far as to claim masturbation is self-care.

If you’re not already masturbating regularly, you might want to add it into your routine (Ugh! What a horrible chore!) Aside from making you feel great, masturbation is great tool for de-stressing. Not convinced yet? Here are some ways masturbation helps you calm down.

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5 Secret Stressors That Are Killing You

Woman peering out from behind grey curtain

Stress is a natural part of everyday life. We’ve all experienced sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat, and a boost of adrenaline in a stressful situation. This primal instinct to protect ourselves from threats or danger originated long ago with our ancestors, and it continues today.

Obvious stressors present themselves at key turning points in life — a death in the family, or a significant life change like a move or new baby. But there are also stressors that can live under the radar, undetectable by our conscious mind. Having gone unnoticed, these stressors can initiate an extended “fight or flight” response that can have serious consequences for your health.

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7 Self-Care Tips for When Stress Affects Your Body

stressed sore woman working on computer at cafe

Since I was a boy, my body has been extremely sensitive and reactive to both physical and emotional stress. When my parents announced we were moving away from my hometown, my muscles tensed up so much I could barely use the bathroom for many days. Eventually I learned these health issues were a combination of a rare muscle tension condition and psychosomatic symptoms from my depressive-anxiety disorder.

Because my body usually felt like a car that had driven hundreds of thousands of miles — parts constantly requiring maintenance, always creaking, sputtering, or breaking down — I became a master of self-care. I spent hours every week making a conscious effort to heal and recuperate. This lifestyle was the only way for me to survive and function well enough to graduate from college and find employment. Whenever I neglected proper rest or pushed myself too far, new symptoms arose. Continue reading 7 Self-Care Tips for When Stress Affects Your Body

Tuesday in September: The Lingering Effects of 9/11

911 memorial freedom tower skyline in background

Tuesday in September. I remember what a beautiful day it was. It made everything else that happened seem all the more surreal. I had woken up to go to my first day of grad school at NYU’s uptown Institute of Fine Arts. On my way out the door I turned on Howard Stern, talk radio being my low-tech burglar deterrent after a recent break in of my Bronx apartment. Someone had called in about the first plane crash. Howard didn’t know if it was a joke and neither did I. I turned on CNN and saw the second plane crash. And then I headed out the door to the subway. It was terrible, but the towers were still standing and I didn’t want to be late on my first day. After all, the city kept working when the Trade Center had been bombed years earlier.

I got as far as 86 St. on the 5 train, everyone talking about what was happening. But, from there, the MTA was sending all the trains back uptown, so I got out and walked south, the sky a clear and perfect blue, marred only by black clouds of smoke to the south. As I walk I heard the radios of parked cars, the 1010WINS news station dopplering as I passed each car. The first tower was down. Continue reading Tuesday in September: The Lingering Effects of 9/11

How to Cope with Mental Health During Natural Disasters

Houston landscape shot

Our hearts are heavy with sadness for all those affected by the unthinkable damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. At Talkspace we strongly believe in solidarity and kindness as keys to a healthy community and society. This guiding principle is why we have joined the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by sharing our resources in any way possible.

In addition to a donation to a local food bank, we are offering a free, therapist-led support group on Facebook for those affected by this disaster. We hope this group will provide a safe space to grieve losses and process complex and overwhelming emotions. This step can help begin the healing process and let people know they are not alone.

When a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey ravages the land, thousands of people lose their homes. News organizations send hundreds of photos and videos that show the extent of the destruction. Reporters and citizens document every flooded street, toppled building or crowded shelter.

But there is another type of damage that is more difficult to see and quantify: the impact on mental health. Victims of natural disasters often experience trauma and grief that plagues them long after they have found a new home. The stress of fighting for survival can make people more vulnerable to developing mental health conditions, including depression and post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. Continue reading How to Cope with Mental Health During Natural Disasters

In Defense of Stress

stressed woman on computer

Upcoming dinner plans, a half-baked trip to the beach, and a hold waiting at the library are all small stressors I keep in the back of my mind and contribute to my anxiety. My planner is full of scribbles of upcoming plans and reminders to make future appointments. I’m preoccupied by mild rashes, engine lights, and sudden sounds. In an average week, every member of my immediate family and a handful of close friends tell me to “chill” or “relax.”

My baseline stress level is above average. A reminder “not to stress about it,” whatever it may be, is sometimes helpful. More often, it’s an annoying comment, a directive that actually increases my anxiety. And yet, it’s a comment that many of us toss out to our stressed friends and family members without a thought. Indeed, the pressure to “chill” is increasingly another stressor anxious people deal with. At this point, ads for wellness, mindfulness, and relaxation cures increase my blood pressure. Continue reading In Defense of Stress