Hashtag Holiday: Stress Awareness Day

Breathe in, breathe out. April is National Stress Awareness Month, so it’s fitting that #NationalStressAwarenessDay should fall right in the middle of it. On the blog (and everywhere else), we talk a lot about stress and how it can negatively affect our own health—everything from headaches and high blood pressure to skin rashes and loss of sleep. But what about when you see someone you love struggling and just don’t know what to do? Here are a few tips for helping out the stressed-out loved one in your life:

Listen up. There’s no better thing you can do for a family member or friend who’s feeling emotionally buried than to ask how he or she is doing … and then listen. Without checking your phone, without interrupting or judging. Bring the tissues, bring some snacks, and then plan to settle in with open ears and an open heart.

Work it out. Grab your friend and get moving together: try a restorative yoga session, a group high-intensity workout class, or go for a brisk, 20-minute walk on your lunch break. Studies show that elevating your heartrate for 20 minutes a day, three times a week is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.

Lend a hand. “What can I do to help?” That is the second most important you can ask a friend who’s feeling stuck (“How are you?” is the first, of course). Follow that up by offering to help in a way that taps into your natural skillset: If you’re a master organizer, offer to pitch in with spring-cleaning the garage. If you love animals, plan to take your pal’s dog for a walk a couple of times a week. Or, if you love to cook, make a reheatable dinner dish (veggie lasagna, anyone?), bake some dark-chocolate-chip cookies, or whip up a batch of blueberry-pecan overnight oatmeal, all packed with stress-reducing ingredients. 

Music as medicine. You know how I feel about the power of good music: It can get your day going in the right direction and your body moving when all you want to do is get back into bed and pull the covers up over your head. My Wake Up Happy and #RaiseYourGame playlists have all of my favorites on them, which I guarantee will get you and your stressed-out pal to a happier place. Or, curate your own “No Stress” Playlist as a fun “gift.”