With the holidays and New Year’s Eve behind us, it’s a great time of year to look forward to the different ways that we can take better care of ourselves and to consider starting fresh on a clean slate—while many people use this as a time to inspire tangible goals that have physical resonance with ourselves, it’s also important to consider how we can better our mental health and wellbeing! With that being said, practicing self-care and mindfulness can be a positive way to impact your life and manage your stress positively, and sometimes we need a reminder to stop and take care of ourselves—everyone responds to stress differently, and there are a variety of ways that you can find what works best for you!
Remember:The idea of self-care is to make it work for you: that includes both mood and logistics.
Experiment and see what feels nourishing now, because what worked in the summer may not be what you need in the winter.
How can you begin to focus on your own self-care as a means of reducing stress?
- Accept that you cannot control everything
- Do your best—perfection is NOT mandatory
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Learn and acknowledge what triggers your stress
- Ask for what you want or need
- Say “no” without guilt
- Say “yes” only when you want to: not because you feel obligated or because you want to please someone
- Don’t be afraid to skip, leave early, or arrive late for parties or gatherings
- Avoid passive aggressive behavior: be upfront, assertive, and respectful about how you are feeling
- Let go of trying to control what others eat, drink, say or do
Surround yourself with positive people: Do your best to avoid the negative people in your life. Choose to surround yourself with friends and family who have a positive impact on you. Not only can they help improve your own mood, but they will provide much needed emotional support as long as you remember to reach out to them.
Make daily agendas: Don’t try to keep track of everything in your head. There’s too much to do, and you’ll only feel bad if you forget something. Keeping a simple notebook, pocket calendar, or bullet journal will help you stay organized. If you write down everything before bed, you can consult it at the start of your day and check off tasks as you go.
Set realistic goals:It simply isn’t possible to do everything, and expecting the impossible from yourself will only lead to frustration. Instead, put aside multiple, small blocks of time throughout the day, and divide your to do list, tackling it little by little.
Do something fun! Don’t forget to take time just for you, and do something you enjoy! Your wellbeing is no less important than anything else you have to do. So make sure you take a moment and spend it doing something just for yourself: find a hobby that enthralls you, do something with friends, whatever will put a smile on your face.
Ask for help: You simply cannot do everything on your own. Spreading yourself too thin will only wear you out physically, and overwhelm you emotionally: there is nothing wrong with asking for assistance when you need it. Don’t be afraid to rely on the resources available to you. That may be asking another person to help with something, or relying on technology to take care of some of the leg work.
Be active: Exercise has been proven to help reduce stress, improve sleep, and discourage anxiety and depression. While setting the time aside for a session of yoga, or jogging or some other “work out” may be beneficial, at this time of year, it can be difficult to do that. But added effort in daily chores can be effective enough to keep us all active. Mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, mowing, or raking are all great ways to keep active at this time of year.
Meditate: Just a few minutes a day has been proven to ease stress and anxiety. Also, continued practiced over a prolonged period of time can help your immune system and keep you from panicking in a stressful situation.
Laugh often: Laughter shouldn’t be your only medicine, but it can certainly help treat numerous ailments. Sustained deep belly laughter has been shown to lower blood pressure, ease chronic pain, strengthen the immune system, improve digestion and elimination, strengthen abdominal muscles, burn calories, and enhance brain function.
Listen to music: What we listen to can affect our mood, so choose music according to your current needs. Soothing music is proven to help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety; while upbeat music can help invigorate you. The key is to make sure you like the music: the more you like the music, the better your body will respond.
Resources + Suggestions for Things to Help with Stress Management
Free Online Yoga
- YouTube channels:
- Ekhart Yoga
Free Online Guided Meditations
- YouTube channels:
- Jason Stephenson - Sleep Music
Free Organizational Websites
- Google Keep
Free Online Resources to Help You Laugh
- Pandora (stand-up available)
- YouTube Channels
- America’s Funniest Home Videos
- Saturday Night Live
- The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
- Tiger Productions (Animal Videos)
Free Online Resources for Managing Stress
Free Online Food Resources
- Bullet Journaling/Journaling in General
- Start a stress journal: A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed; keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:
- What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure)
- How you felt, both physically and emotionally
- How you acted in response
- What you did to make yourself feel better
- DIY stress ball
- Meditation Jar/Glitter bottle
- DIY Zen garden
- Worry Box
- Kinetic Sand/Moon Sand
General Advice for Improving your Physical & Mental Well-Being
- Yoga and/or exercise in general
- Deep breathing, count to 10 as a means of taking time to cool down from a situation or experience that is stressing you
- Eat well balanced meals, and don’t skip meals! Energy-boosting snacks or snacks that are higher in protein can be a beneficial addition to your diet.
- Sleep—8 hours per night is recommended on a regular
Everyday Habits to Adapt to Your Life
- Avoid caffeine/other stimulants that will increase your stress rather than reduce it
- Take a time out—step away from your problems by doing something else to lessen the focus on your stress. Ex. Listen to music, meditate, get a massage, learn relaxation techniques
- Give back to your community—volunteering can help you develop a support network of people, and can help “pull you away” from the things that are stressing you
- Get help online—resources are easily accesible and a librarian can help you learn how to perform searches and research what can best help you
- Talk to someone—family, friends, professionals; the people in your life would rather help you better yourself than see you struggle
Hopefully you will find this information helpful as a means of addressing and managing stress in your everyday life, and if you have any suggestions or recommendations to add to this collection of resources, please feel free to share what has worked for you!
Also, feel free to join Liz and Felicia in the Teen Center for our current series of De-Stress Fest activities! Check them out on the CPL website!
The content and resources of this post were primarily compiled by Rebecca, a Reference Librarian here at the CPL.
They were then adapted to this blog post by Felicia, the Teen Services Assistant at the CPL.