14 Self-Care Ideas to Manage Stress and Maintain Your Well-Being

In a stressful and fast-paced world, self-care is an essential aspect of managing stress and safeguarding your health and well-being—both physical and mental. If you’re not sure where to start and find yourself looking for self-care ideas, keep reading.

In this article, we’ll talk about the effects that stress can have on your body and mind, and then we’ll share 14 self-care ideas to help you stay calm and healthy.

The Effects of Stress on Your Body and Mind

Woman thinking about self-care ideas

The word “stress” has gotten a bad reputation. But the truth is that the body is designed to handle stress in small amounts or for short periods of time.1

If you encounter a bear, that stressor activates your fight-or-flight response, which is necessary for helping you retreat to safety. Your body’s stress response can also help you through normal, everyday situations that may be nerve-racking, difficult, or intense.2

The issue arises when stress is constant, long-term, or chronic. This type is what most people refer to when they use the word “stress,” and it is, indeed, a problem.

In fact, in a review on how stress impacts the way the body functions, its authors note: “Many disorders originate from stress, especially if the stress is severe and prolonged.”3

Let’s take a look at a few of the effects that long-term stress can have on both your body and mind:

  • Anxiety4
  • Depression4
  • Feeling irritable and angry
  • Feeling restless, unfocused, and unmotivated4
  • Stomach problems4
  • Headaches4
  • Tiredness4
  • A change in your libido (sex drive)4
  • Problems sleeping4
  • Muscle tension1
  • Respiratory symptoms1
  • Increased risk for heart and blood vessel problems1
  • Changes in sperm production, maturation, and motility1
  • Changes in menstruation1

And that’s not even all of the ways that long-term stress can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being.

While you can’t remove all stressors from your life, there are ways you can take control of and manage stress while supporting yourself in the process. That’s what we’ll cover now with these 14 self-care ideas.

14 Self-Care Ideas for Managing Stress

1) Talk It Out

Two women talk about self-care ideas

Simply talking about what is worrying you or stressing you can be freeing and helpful, especially if you’re a verbal processor. Ask a friend to listen, or see a mental health professional, such as a counselor or therapist.

2) Write It Out

Grab a pen or pencil, because many people benefit from writing and journaling. Putting your feelings down on paper can help you identify positive and negative thoughts, prioritize concerns, and track daily symptoms and triggers.5

If writing doesn’t come easily for you, try drawing your feelings to experience the same benefits mentioned above.

3) Do Something That Brings You Joy

Kids play all the time. But as adults, it can be easy to get into a rut with work, home responsibilities, and all the rest. However, it’s essential to do something that brings you joy each day.

Find something that feels like play to you and give yourself the gift of play each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

4) Head Outside

Man walking his dog outside for self care

Spending time outside can be a powerful tool for managing stress. The gentle sounds of Nature (or its silence) can help to lower your blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol (read more below).6

Simply being outdoors is a great start. For even more self-care benefits, combine your outside time with physical activity, such as walking, cycling, running, or hiking.

5) Get Some Exercise

No matter where you go or what you do, staying active in some form or fashion is a key part of self-care. If you don’t like working out at the gym, don’t fret. Reframe exercise as simply moving your body in a way that is enjoyable to you.

Consider rollerblading, dancing, yoga, walking, riding your bike, playing ball with your children, swimming, playing tennis, yard work, or gardening.

To support your new healthy lifestyle, turn to herbs to help you stay active, including best-selling Turmeric to help reduce occasional inflammation due to normal daily wear and tear.*

6) Care for Your Adrenals

 Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health

The adrenal glands secrete an important hormone called cortisol. Levels of this hormone fluctuate throughout the day, helping to maintain a natural sleep-wake cycle.

However, cortisol also contributes to the body’s fight-or-flight response and is released in response to stress, especially chronic stress.

This is why it’s important to support your adrenal glands if you’re under chronic stress. Choose natural herbal support with Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health Daily Support or Stress Response.*

Both of these products contain a synergistic blend of adaptogenic herbs, including Rhodiola, Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, and Schisandra, to help your body adapt and cope with stress in a healthy way.*

7) Practice Mindfulness

Our thoughts have the power to impact our lives and our health. One way to engage in self-care is to take a look at your thoughts by practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness helps you focus on the present (not the past or the future) and be more in tune with your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. If you’re unfamiliar with mindfulness, read more here.

8) Perform an Act of Kindness

Self-care can also mean focusing your attention on others through acts of kindness and generosity. In fact, helping others is shown to contribute to positive health outcomes.7

There are lots of different ways to lend a hand, help a neighbor, or encourage a friend. Get creative and start helping!

9) Fuel Your Body

Eating right is not just about losing or gaining weight. What you put in your body can significantly impact your overall health and well-being.

Gut health can affect your body’s inflammatory response as well as your mood, immune health, and stress response.8 Fuel your body and mind with good food and take special care of your gut with prebiotics—the nourishment that your good gut bacteria need to thrive.

When it comes to prebiotic powders, we recommend Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food, which is made with Larch, Acacia, Acerola, Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Marshmallow.*

You can trust the purity and potency of this product since it’s made with organic herbs; purity-tested; vegan; and free of dairy, gluten, and soy.

10) Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Woman reading a book before going to bed

You know that sleep is essential for good health, mental clarity, and stress management. But sleep isn’t always easy to come by when you are stressed.

Help your body wind down by avoiding exercise at night, turning the lights down in the evening, and doing away with screens at least an hour before bedtime. You can also turn to herbal supplements, like Gaia Herbs SleepThru®.

11) Speak Kindly to Yourself

We mentioned earlier that self-care involves taking a peek into your thought-life. Pay attention to your inner dialog to see if you are speaking harsh, critical words to yourself.

Treat yourself the way you would a close friend, and speak words of kindness and support to yourself.

12) Sip on Tea

Gaia Herbs Sleep & Relax Herbal Tea

A cup of steaming hot tea can create a mindfulness moment during a busy day. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply and sip on your tea.

You might also find it helpful to turn to a cup of tea to wind down in the evening before going to bed. If so, try Gaia Herbs Sleep & Relax Herbal Tea. The calming blend of Passionflower, Lemon Balm, and Chamomile helps prepare the body for a good night's rest.*

To learn more about the herbs in this and any Gaia Herbs product, including where they are grown, visit meetyourherbs.com.

We created Meet Your Herbs®, the world’s first herb traceability platform, because we believe transparency is essential and we want you to feel confident and comfortable with what you are putting in your body to support your health.

13) Put Your Phone Away

Family playing games together

Your phone is distracting and often the bearer of distressing news, not to mention it usually means that work and all sorts of responsibilities are at your fingertips.

While there’s no need to do away with your phone entirely, commit to at least a little bit of time each day without it. This may be hard to do at first, but keep trying! You’ll get better at it.

14) Support Your Brain

Often, it’s not your body that gives out on you at the end of the day, but your mind. Support your brain with mushrooms and herbs traditionally used for brain health and recall.*

With Gaia Herbs Mind Spring™, we’ve created a synergistic blend of Lion's Mane and Reishi mushrooms combined with herbs including Turmeric, Ginkgo, Gotu Kola, and Holy Basil.

It’s easy to add this powder to your wellness routine: Simply add one teaspoon into a smoothie, dairy or non-dairy milk, or any other beverage of your choice.

Practice Self-Care Regularly to Manage Stress

Woman practicing self care by meditating at the beach

Some stress is inevitable. And with the busyness and fast-paced nature of life, chronic stress can often feel that way, too. But the good news is there’s much you can do to put a lid on stress and stay feeling your best.*

To manage stress (and its effects on your body), practice self-care on a regular basis. This can include journaling, getting outside, moving your body, caring for your adrenals with Gaia Herbs Stress Response or Adrenal Health Daily Support, or supporting restful sleep with Gaia Herbs SleepThru.*

Once you decide which self-care ideas suit your personality and lifestyle, commit to supporting yourself and reducing stress in your life. Your body and your mind will thank you for it!

REFERENCES:

1. “Stress Effects on the Body,” American Psychological Association, November 1, 2018,
https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body.

2. “Stress,” Mental Health Foundation, last updated March 26, 2021, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/stress.

3. Habib Yaribeygi et al. “The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review,” EXCLI Journal 16 (2017): 1057–1072, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579396.

4. Mayo Clinic Staff, “Stress Management,” Mayo Clinic, 2019,
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987#s.

5. “Journaling for Mental Health,” University of Rochester Medical Center, accessed March 3, 2021, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=.

6. “Sour Mood Getting You Down? Get Back to Nature,” Harvard Men’s Health Watch, Harvard Health Publishing, last updated March 30, 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature.

7. Michael J. Poulin et al. “Giving to Others and the Association Between Stress and Mortality,” American Journal of Public Health 103, no. 9 (2013): 1649–1655, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780662.

8. Mary Bove, “The Microbiome in Infants and Children: Maintaining Health and Wellness,” BotanicalMedicine,
https://www.botanical-medicine.org/Botanical-Medicine-Speakers/Bove-Mary/The_Microbiome_in_Infants_and_Children.