How To Manage Stress For Better Mental Health

We’re coming up on the end of Stress Awareness Month, along with the Grouport series on “Stress L.E.S.S.” The goal of this series has been to support our members and readers with critical tips, tricks, and workshops to help them mitigate stress and avoid burnout - taking them from chaos to calm with simple reflections and affirmations every week. No matter who you are, stress will impact you at some point in your life - and some of us much more than others! If you missed any of our Stress Awareness Month content or would simply like a recap, read on to learn more! 

Battling Stress With LOVE

The first letter in our Stress L.E.S.S. acronym, “L,” stands for LOVE. Heightened stress levels often indicate the fact that we have fallen out of touch with ourselves, and are not offering our minds, hearts, and emotions the attention and affection they deserve. If you’re experiencing high levels of stress or regular stressful periods during your day or week, try journaling the following reflections in order to build self-awareness and diffuse stress: 

  1. What does self-love mean to you? 
  2. What do you love about yourself? Don’t be shy… make a list!
  3. How can you show yourself love today? What is one thing you can do that makes YOU feel special? 
  4. What is one action (communication, service, or affection) from a friend, family member or partner that makes you feel loved? 

Take time to sit in a peaceful, quiet place and develop mindful reflection with the following affirmation: 

“I am worthy of love and affection. I am supported by people who will comfort me and bring hope to hard times.” 

Battling Stress With EXERCISE

Next up in the Stress L.E.S.S. series was our exercise focus. As you probably know, daily movement can be a game-changer for ongoing stress relief. The simple effort of physical movement boosts endorphins for more positive emotional experiences! Take some time this week to consider the following reflections in order to begin incorporating healthier exercise habits into your life to combat stress: 

  1. What type of daily movement is particularly stress-relieving for you? 
  2. What is one exercise goal you feel is achievable on a weekly basis? 
  3. How can you make more time this week for daily movement? Remember, every minute counts! 

Don’t forget, simple movements count and you can always start small before building bigger or longer or more ambitious exercise routines into your daily schedule. Finding something you truly love doing (whether that’s weight-lifting, walking, yoga, climbing, gardening, cycling, you name it!) can help build healthy habits that are easier to maintain long-term.

After exploring the answers to these reflections, take a moment this week to develop mindfulness through the following affirmation: 

“Moving my body through exercise is a powerful way to take charge of my health and relieve any stress or anxiety. Every day I am getting stronger and more resilient.” 

Battling Stress through SERENITY

The third letter in Stress L.E.S.S. represents the word “Serenity.” Serenity is defined as “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.” This might seem like a significant reach from your frazzled state of mind when you’re under stress, but we promise - you can get there!

One critical tip for building feelings of Serenity to combat stress is to practice regular grounding exercises. Grounding is a form of mindfulness therapy that involves doing activities that “ground” you to the earth, helping you feel present in your own body and connected to your own mind and emotions. When we are under intense stress, we often feel disconnected from ourselves. Grounding helps bring us back to “center”. 

Here is a simple grounding exercise you can participate in to bring you back to a place of Serenity. 

  1. Sit calmly with both feet on the ground. If possible, do this exercise outside. Either way, begin by closing your eyes for a moment. Then, begin to notice things you can taste. 
  2. Now, slowly bring your attention to things you can smell. Give yourself a second to slowly breathe in, and out, as you notice these things. 
  3. Breathing slowly, turn your thoughts to things you can feel. What do you notice about how your feet feel on the ground? In your shoes, or barefoot? Your hands, touching your seat, or your lap. Work your way from your toes, all the way up to your head as you take inventory on how you feel, in every part of your body. 
  4. Now that you’ve worked your way through your physical body, begin to notice things you can hear. Let yourself listen to sounds, both small, and big, and even to the noise of your own steady breathing. 
  5. Finally, fully open your eyes. Look without moving dramatically. Take note of the world around you. It’s movement, it’s stillness. The colors and patterns of the earth, skies, trees, buildings, room, walls, or whatever surrounds you. 

This simple grounding exercise can bring a world of peace to you in stressful times. 

Now that you’ve mastered the art of grounding, move on to the following reflections:

  1. What helps you slow down and experience serenity? 
  2. What place makes you feel the most peaceful? 
  3. How can you incorporate moments of serenity into your daily routine? 

Finally, make space for this Serenity-focused affirmation this week: 

“I inhale peace. I exhale worry. I feel calm, grounded, and secure. I release the need to control my life, and I surrender to this present moment.” 

Battling Stress through SUSTENANCE

The final letter in our Stress L.E.S.S. series stands for Sustenance, or “food and drink regarded as a source of strength and nourishment.” 

Consider the following questions: 

  1. Do you eat less or more when you are stressed? 
  2. What types of foods do you turn to in stress that you know you can eliminate?
  3. What is one food you can try to eat every day that makes you feel healthy and strong? 

For your final affirmation, sit peacefully and speak these words aloud to yourself: 

“Food is a tool to nourish my body. I deserve to feel amazing when I eat what my body needs. I can sustain myself with choices that support my wellbeing. I savor every bite.” 

In summary, diminishing stress in your everyday life is not a massive uphill battle. It simply consists of small choices you can make each day. You can choose healthy habits around Self-love, Exercise, Serenity, and Sustenance. We hope this Stress Awareness Month series helps you to grow in your ability to feel empowered to overcome stress. You are capable, powerful, and courageous. 

Looking for extra support for anxiety & stress? Check out Grouport’s online group therapy for anxiety and get started today on the road to healing in a community of peers who understand what you’re going through!

April 27, 2022

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