De-Stress and Live Your Best Life

Stress can be sneaky, creeping up on us slowly, manifesting in subtle ways—a clenched jaw here, a racing heart there, an inability to truly unwind. Tension in the shoulders, an unsettled stomach, struggling to sleep—before we know it, these little symptoms can leave us feeling overwhelmed and drained. Stress is a normal part of life, but if we don't recognize it and learn how to manage it properly, it can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and this year's theme is "Little by Little, A Little Becomes a Lot." This is the idea that small, consistent actions each day contribute to our overall wellbeing as a cumulative effect. Even the smallest steps taken each day towards self-care and stress reduction can yield significant improvements in your health over time.

Stress Reduction Strategies

There are many little things we can do to help soothe our activated nervous system. Some of them you may already be familiar with:

  • Ground yourself by standing or walking barefoot in the grass.
  • Connect with nature! Spend some time listening to the birds and feeling the sunshine on your skin.
  • Try humming or singing. The vibrations in your throat are soothing to your nervous system.
  • Listen to calming music or a guided meditation using the Calm App. You have access to this app for free with your library card!
  • Give yourself a butterfly hug, opens a new window.
  • Place a hand on your heart and breathe deeply.
  • Connect with loved ones.
  • Journaling: just getting your thoughts, feelings and worries out onto paper can be very cathartic.
  • Do yoga, go for a walk, stretch or participate in other gentle exercise. Our libraries offer a wide range of free Health & Wellness programming.
  • Take a warm bath with your favorite scented candle.
  • Spend some time gardening or engaging in a creative activity like drawing or painting.
  • Spend time with your pet! Just 10 minutes of quality time with your pet can significantly reduce cortisol levels and help bring down your anxiety.

Hug It Out

Research has shown how important hugging can be for our emotional wellbeing: when people hug for 20 seconds or more, the feel-good hormone oxytocin is released which creates a stronger bond and connection between the huggers. Oxytocin has been shown to boost the immune system and reduce stress. Studies have also shown that hugging lowers blood pressure and even slows the heart rate. Unfortunately, many people today live solitary or busy lives with reduced social interaction and physical touch. If you want to feel better about yourself, reduce your stress, improve communication, and be happier and healthier, it seems that giving and asking for more hugs is a good place to start.

Manage Your Stress


The Stress Prescription

Master your Stress, Reset your Health

Breathe In, Breathe Out

State Change

Stress Wisely