Safety professionals are no strangers to stress.
When life-or-death conditions are part of your job, and people across many parts of your organization rely on your leadership and expertise, stress management becomes an essential skill that many in this profession are used to deploying with ease. But sometimes, the unexpected happens, life gets scary, and even the strongest and bravest among us feel the weight of it.
In these situations, it’s OK to admit you’re overwhelmed. In fact, it’s often the first step toward feeling better. Here are 10 free resources that could help you alleviate stress and refocus your energy.
1. A Guided Jellyfish Meditation
Whether you’re new to meditation or have an ongoing practice, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Morning MeditOceans are accessible and soothing. The California facility gives virtual visitors a look inside their jellyfish tanks and other exhibits for a series of breathing exercises designed to send stress floating away. According to the organization’s YouTube channel, it’s mindfulness only the brainless can provide.
2. Phone Features That Reduce Noise
Twenty-eight percent of adults in the U.S. are “almost constantly” online, often on mobile devices. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of push notifications you receive, use these iPhone and Android guides to turn them off. If you find yourself getting stressed while using particular apps, use these iPhone and Android guides to set limits on your usage.
3. An App That Tracks Your Sleep
It’s always important to get a good night’s sleep, but maintaining healthy sleep habits is especially critical during times of high stress. The Sleep Cycle app uses sound analysis to identify each of your sleep states and wake you up at the time when it will be easiest to get out of bed. It also provides insights about how much time you spent in light, deep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep so you can optimize your schedule.
4. A Podcast to Practice Mindfulness
If you’re seeking to be more present in your daily life, it’s a good idea to establish rituals and routines that support that goal. However, that doesn’t mean your mindfulness practice needs to rely on the same tools all the time. The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has a weekly podcast covering a variety of topics related to mental health, including self-compassion, coping with anxiety and cultivating joy.
5. Everyday Workstation Exercises
If you do most of your work in front of a computer or in a static posture, ergonomists recommend taking 90-second breaks every hour to stretch and move your body. This can be especially helpful if you’re adjusting to a workstation for the first time or are experiencing physical tension due to stress. Indiana University has a photographic guide to workstation exercises you can use anywhere.
6. Easy Greeting Card Templates
Seventy-one percent of people turn to friends or family members in times of stress. While it’s easy to pick up the phone or send your loved ones an e-mail to stay connected, try sending them a greeting card instead. Adobe Spark is a suite of design apps that provides user-friendly greeting card templates for non-designers. Get creative with a printable message that shows how much you value the people in your life.
7. An At-Home Cardio Workout
Did you know working out can improve your brain health? And, research shows that all kinds of exercise can help you manage stress. If you’re looking for workout inspiration, the American Heart Association has an infographic that can help you create your own circuit training plan from home. Choose from a variety of movements, then put them together in short bursts, ranging from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
8. A Calming Music Playlist
Music can be a powerful tool for stress reduction. Whether you’re at work, play or rest, the right soundtrack can set the tone for your mood and behavior. Not interested in sleepy piano tunes? No problem. The team at NPR Music recently compiled a six-hour playlist of songs that help them keep stress at bay. The genres are as unique as the contributors, encompassing folk, ambient, hip-hop and more.
9. Journaling Prompts for Reflection
The idea of sitting down in the middle of a stressful situation to write and reflect may seem like a luxury, but a growing body of research shows that journaling has numerous health benefits, including strengthened immunity and coping skills. The Presencing Institute, an organizational change research organization founded in 2006, has a series of journaling prompts (meant to last 45 minutes) that you can use to focus your writing.
10. The Present of Laughter
Finding humor in stressful moments is great for your mental health. If going to see live comedy or theater is your thing under normal circumstances, try bringing it into your living room. As part of its Great Performances series, PBS is streaming a classic comedy of manners, “Present Laughter” by Noël Coward. This taped stage production features a Tony Award-winning performance by Kevin Kline and characters that will make you feel better in no time.
While people can mitigate certain types of stress by taking a break, breathing deeply, connecting with friends or using online tools, other types of stress may require expert assistance. If you are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression, we encourage you to visit this resource page from the National Institute of Mental Health or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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