There’s a difference between acute and ongoing stress; unfortunately, many of us are becoming used to facing the latter, which can negatively affect health.
Stress is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be better equipped to handle what comes your way.
We’ve become better at talking about stress and mental health as a society, but there's no one-way to manage stress. While talking about their stressors may be helpful for some, others may need to try different methods.
New stress relief trends can be incorporated into your daily routine, such as intentional exercise recovery, using ear seeds, trying a meditation app, or going sober.
Ask just about anyone to describe their typical week, and you’ll likely get a lot of responses that use words like “busy”, “stressful”, or “packed”. Unfortunately, with the responsibilities and expectations of modern culture, many of us carry more stress than we would like.
While we can’t always change the demands of our day-to-day lives, we can respond to them differently. By practicing intentional methods of stress management, we may be able to support a healthy stress response.
Negative Impacts of Stress
While stress has a poor reputation, there’s a difference between the types of stressors we experience.  Stress can be felt acutely or chronically, and can even be 'good' sometimes.
Our bodies are equipped to handle acute stress by releasing hormones, like cortisol, that boost energy and alertness. It’s basically a survival skill. An example of this “good” stress is when we’re feeling it as a result of something like an acute academic or career performance, as it helps us prepare to do our best, which can teach us things to draw on next time we’re faced with something similar. This type of stress is short-lasting, handled, and released so we can move on to the next thing.
On the other hand, chronic stress is ongoing and can negatively affect mental, emotional, and physical health if it’s not properly addressed. When stress lingers for longer than it should, it can start interrupting your sleep pattern and cause distress to your mental health, digestion, cardiovascular health, and bodily functions. Chronic stress can suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to lingering illness and infection.  If you do experience chronic stress, please talk to your health care provider.
Now that we’ve distinguished between these two main categories of stress let’s dive into some of the ways we can choose to respond to it.
Stress has been around since the beginning of time, triggered by a number of different factors evolving throughout history. What causes the most ongoing stress to one generation is something completely different in the next generation.
Still, the conversation around stressors has really only surfaced and become normalized in the last several years. As a society, we’ve become more accustomed to sharing struggles with one another and being transparent. With that has come more discussion about how to handle stress, support positive mood, and support a healthy stress response.
Initially, this looked like talking about “self-care” and reminded people to take a few minutes for themselves every day. Tips like taking a bubble bath, journaling, or reading a book became prominent. But we quickly learned that while helpful, these things aren’t always enough to combat stressors, and new ideas were needed.
Expanding beyond the idea of self-care, consider these innovative stress relief trends to incorporate into your everyday routine.
1. Gather Information with Stress Tracking
We can’t make positive changes in our lives without having benchmark information. As with any health goal, reducing stress requires understanding how it’s affecting you in the first place. Stress has become an important health metric, with many devices now equipped to measure things like blood oxygen, heart rate, and skin moisture that can indicate the presence of stress.
2. EFT Tapping
Emotional freedom technique (EFT) tapping is an alternative to acupuncture, sometimes called psychological acupressure. It involves tapping a variety of the 12 meridian spots on your body to restore balance to your body’s energy and minimize the negative effects of stress. 
3. Increase Your Spiritual Wellness
Having a connection to something larger than yourself and the community around you increases your sense of purpose and can reduce stress.  People find deeper spiritual wellness through meditation, prayer, and practicing gratitude.
4. House Plants
If you’re unable to spend time outside regularly, consider bringing nature into your home.  In addition to fresh oxygen production, being in the presence of plants can provide a sense of calmness.
5. Going Alcohol Free
Sober living has become a more normalized way of living, with many people wanting to experience more authentic connections to their emotions and peers than alcohol provides. The trend is being met with the invention of more non-alcoholic options, like mocktails and functional alcohol alternatives.
6. Exercise Recovery
Physical activity is a key component of leading a healthy lifestyle. Still, a cooldown or other method of recovery is often overlooked as we finish our workouts and head on to the next task in our day. Some examples include deep stretching, cold tubs, infrared saunas, and cryotherapy chambers that are starting to pop up in gyms and other wellness facilities.
7. Ear Seeds
An ancient Chinese medicine practice, ear seeds are small seeds adhesively placed on pressure points on your ears . These are a type of auriculotherapy or acupressure for your ears and either come from the flowering herb Vaccaria or in the form of beads made of metal or ceramic. Many people find them helpful for things like headaches, tension, pain, and focus. 
8. Destruction Rooms
Need an hour to go destroy things you don’t own in a controlled environment? Consider a rage, wreck, or destruction room. Using personal protective equipment provided by the facility, these spaces have popped up as opportunities to release frustration through the physical act of destruction — while being safe to yourself and others.
9. Talking About Sex
Sexual wellness has long been a taboo topic, but being able to talk about it more openly is an important piece of physical and emotional wellness. Turning it from a shameful or guilt-ridden topic into a normal aspect of everyone’s identity helps increase education, understanding, and accessibility to resources while reducing the stress around sexual wellness concerns and challenges.
10. Therapy and Meditation Apps
While we’re talking about mental health more, that doesn’t mean everyone has equal access to resources when in need of stress management tools. Fortunately, in addition to in-person and virtual therapy sessions, there’s been an increase in apps available for mood and meditation tools.
11. Stress Supplements
Another easy way to support stress management is to add a stress supplement to your overall nutrient-rich diet. Consider the NatureMade line of stress supplements, such as L-theanine, Ashwagandha, Magnesium, and other blends designed to support a healthy stress response.†
The Bottom Line
None of us are getting through life without stress disrupting our path at some point. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be well-equipped to respond to it . Consider how you can incorporate some of the ideas above as part of your daily life to combat stressors more effectively.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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Lauren specializes in plant-based living and vegan and vegetarian diets for all ages. She also enjoys writing about parenting and a wide variety of health, environmental, and nutrition topics. Find her at www.laurenpanoff.com.