Stress & Anxiety. . .

Neon sign "breathe" on a wall covered in green leaves

Let’s face it, if we weren’t all suffering from stress & anxiety two years ago, we are now. Whether it is the result of isolation and loneliness or “too much family time” brought on by the pandemic, we’re all more aware of our own stress & anxiety than we may ever have been in the past.

I recently came across an article touting several helpful actions one might use (healthy coping strategies, if you will) for dealing with stress & anxiety.
(Find the article here:

What struck me about these strategies is that they are available without seeking therapy or making a medical appointment. Because I really appreciated what the authors offered, I’m sharing their words of wisdom on several of these strategies with you here this week. . .

  1. Breathe in for 5, out for 5.
    Our average breathing pace is 12-16 breaths per minute, or ~4 seconds each. That’s only 2 seconds in, 2 seconds out. When you’re stressed, you may notice it speeding up even more. Slow it down and try to do it from your belly (technically, your diaphragm), not your chest. Deep, abdominal breathing activates neurons that signal to the vagus nerve, which in turn, responds by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. Amazing!
  2. Get Physical.
    Do some push-ups, sit-ups, or pop in a workout video. Put that excess adrenaline you’re feeling to good use! Think of it as “running” from your perceived danger.
  3. Laugh.
    Studies show that laughter reduces stress and increases immune function. Instead of scrolling through anxiety-inducing feeds on Covid-19, watch standup comedy. In a study of cancer patients, the improvement from humor was even more pronounced than from other coping mechanisms such as distraction.
  4. Affirm Your Values.
    Studies have shown that those who reflect on their values experience less stress and show a substantial decrease in cortisol compared to control groups. Understanding your values is crucial not just for stress management but also for motivation, goal setting, and decision-making. So, get grounded and more productive while in quarantine by thinking about yours. Need a tool to sort out your core values? Try this list from Brené Brown: Values.pdf (
  5. Gratitude.
    Write three things you’re grateful for. While it sounds cheesy, clinical trials have shown that gratitude can have dramatic and lasting positive effects, from lower blood pressure to improved immune function, to more acts of helpfulness and generosity. People who experience gratitude can cope more effectively with everyday stress, show increased resilience in the face of trauma, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health.
  6. Practice.
    Practice progressive muscle relaxation, an exercise that involves clenching or tightening muscle groups one at a time and then slowly releasing them. You can start at your toes/feet and work your way up the body with each group of muscles ‘til you reach your forehead & brow. People with insomnia often find this is helpful for falling asleep.
  7. Try a Grounding Exercise.
    Sometimes, we’re so anxious that we can’t even think through the above. If you are at the point of panic, follow the below exercise. Look around you (even better, go out into nature) and mindfully notice:
  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!

Over the months of this weekly mailing, I’ve shared many similar strategies with you, but I truly appreciated how these tools, taken together can afford us all some Simple Self-Care Strategies that may change the way we feel both in the moment AND over the long haul.

Please take good care of yourself this week! And, if I can be of any help in that endeavor, be sure to let me know!

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About Paula

I help other caregivers – both professionals and family caregivers – acknowledge their pain and learn to practice the many small skills of self-care that can sustain them through the challenges of wholeheartedly caring for others.

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Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.

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