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!
Set the Mood
“I’m obsessed with essential oils. If I feel too stressed out or anxious during the day, I put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on my wrists and behind my ears. It makes me much calmer and helps me concentrate. Also, as soon as I get home from work, I put a mix of lavender, bergamot, and frankincense essential oils in a diffuser and let it on all night. It’s very soothing and helps me relax completely, even after an intense day’s work.”
– Paula, Marketing
“I light some candles, burn Palo Santo, put on some music, and free write until I feel the stress lift. Or I sweat it out at the gym or yoga studio. If I’m really in it, I call for backup and reach out to a friend.”
– JoAnna, Marketing
“Epsom salt bath with a few drops of essential oils, light a candle or two, whilst listening to Sade.”
– Nadia, People & Operations
Chill with Media
“Going down a rabbit hole of old Whose Line is it Anyway clips on YouTube.”
– Gordon, Marketing
“I listen to Harry Potter audio books! It gives me an escape and makes me happy.”
– Christine, LPC – Talkspace Therapist
“Listening to electronic dance music or going to a music festival!”
– Billie Jean, Engineering
“Watching bad reality TV or doing a crossword from start to finish.”
– Fleur, Marketing
“Karaoke private-room singing with family and/or friends; dancing.”
– Kiki, G&A team
Surround Yourself With Friends and Family
“My boyfriend and I drive around and explore new areas around us we didn’t know about.”
– Kimberly, Talkspace Therapist
“Spending time with my son helps me de-stress — being able to experience the world through his eyes reminds me of the wonder and joy that surrounds us.”
– Jill, LCSW – Talkspace Therapist
“My favorite ways to de-stress including going for a walk with my two dogs and daughter, and coloring!”
– Holli, LMHC – Talkspace Therapist
“I take 10 minutes to stretch at night before bed. It gets me out of my head and into my body. I also try as much as I can to sleep with my phone outside of my room, so that I don’t mindlessly scroll on social media right before I close my eyes and as soon as I open them. I notice that my phone brings me more stress than anything in the world!”
– Charlotte, Marketing
“I sleep with my phone in another room.”
– Sean, Engineering
“My favorite way to de-stress is to work out, take a long shower, and then sit in my robe with a sheet mask on!”
– Katie, Network
Spend Time in Nature
“Horses! My de-stress is heading to the barn, rain or shine, pumping up the country music and riding, grooming and loving on my horses! I will often work from a picnic blanket in the pasture while my horses run around and graze. There is no better way to de-stress!”
– Amanda, Director of Therapist Community and Enrichment
“Walking to the beach in the sunshine or a fun dinner with people I love!”
– Shannon, LMFT – Talkspace Therapist
Indulge in Your Favorite Things
“I like to make really big detailed illustrations that I can chip away at every night.”
– Anna, Marketing
“I binge eat Asian food until I sweat the stress out. Also, I meditate daily. Sometimes I combine the two.”
– Josh, Marketing
“I usually create a safe space within my house. I prepare snacks, grab a glass of wine, and play my favorite music. Snacks are a combination of healthy and comfort food and music is eclectic, going from English to French tunes that de-stress me. That takes me to distant lands, within my own home, through creative visualization.”
– Cynthia, LCSW-S – Talkspace Therapist
Is Stress Getting to You?
Stress takes many forms, and not all stress is negative. There are healthy stressors, coined “eustress” by Dr. Hans Seyle. Eustress coincides with positive life experiences, such as the birth of a child, getting married, or competing in intramural sports.
When stress becomes too great, and manifests itself through physical pain or emotional outbursts, this is considered “distress”. To minimize the damage of distress, it’s important to seek options that help you cope with feeling overwhelmed. If your stress has become a heavy burden, online therapy may be a positive next step for you.
April is “Stress Awareness Month,” where health professionals and advocates team up to provide solutions for the modern stress epidemic. This piece is part of our series on understanding and combating daily stressors.
* Some names have been changed to help combat the stress that comes with instant fame.