Stress is natural, but if it’s not acknowledged or managed, it can be debilitating to one’s everyday life.
According to the American Psychological Association, 27 percent of Americans said they were so stressed they had trouble functioning in 2022. Some 75 percent blamed stress for physical issues such as headaches, extreme fatigue and nausea, but also feelings of anxiety and depression.
In a year that saw the overturn of Roe v. Wade, women also reported feeling that their rights are under attack. Women were more likely than men to say they do not feel protected by the laws in the U.S., according to the APA poll. In general, two in three adults (66%) said the current political climate is a significant source of stress in their lives.
As April (Stress Awareness Month) turns into May (Mental Health Awareness Month), we rounded up six ways to manage stress, along with examples of women-owned companies offering new methods to restore well-being and calmness in fraught times.
1. Take care of your physical health.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but one of the best ways to keep stress at bay is to exercise via walking, jogging, gardening or anything that gets you active. “Virtually any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever,” says the Mayo Clinic, adding that exercise pumps up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains also helps.
Women-owned companies in the wellspace abound, including Tone It Up, founded by Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, which provides fitness programs, nutritional supplements (its protein powders are sold at Target) and a space to connect with other women to keep you motivated.
For better eating habits, there’s Sunbasket. Co-founded by San Francisco chef Justine Kelly, Sunbasket is a meal kit delivery service with recipes and supplies for healthy, home-made meals. The company also says it watches its carbon footprint and aims to deliver just the right amount of food needed for each meal, reducing food waste.
2. Attend regular therapy or counseling.
Therapy can be beneficial for anyone, even those who don’t have a mental health disorder. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many therapy services have turned virtual, making it easier than ever to attend regular sessions over phone calls or video-chat.
Alyssa Musket and Vittoria Bergeron founded Sesh, a tech startup for group counseling led by licensed therapists. Sesh offers sessions on depression, anxiety, relationships, parenting, career and more. In 2020, the company closed a $3 million seed funding round, and Musket and Bergeron were included in Forbes 30 Under 30.
E-Therapy Cafe, founded by Dr. Jude Black, aims to make therapy more accessible and available when it’s needed most. After working with military officers and families through a former company called Cope Today, Black developed her own company to offer virtual services for various counseling needs.
3. Practice meditation.
Meditation is another common way to manage stress, as it focuses on relaxing the mind. It’s been practiced for thousands of years, but of course there are new ways to find your zen.
After taking time off to focus on her own mental health, tennis star Naomi Osaka last year partnered with the workplace wellness platform Modern Health to narrate free audio meditations. The sessions are quick, generally one to seven minutes, and are available for adults and kids.
Women’s Meditation Network, founded by podcaster Katie Krimitsos, is another free, online source for guided meditations. There are eight podcasts for different meditation focuses — sleep, healing, daily affirmations, panic attacks, etc. — and a YouTube channel with more. The company strives to create meditations that “speak to the woman’s soul.”
4. Keep a journal.
There are many ways to journal that can benefit your mental health and relieve stressors in your life — daily affirmations, venting, writing out gratitude, manifestation and more. For those new to journaling and don’t know where to begin, there are many guided journals or mental health workbooks to get started.
“The No Worries Workbook,” written by author and social media strategist Molly Burford, offers 124 lists, activities and prompts to “get out of your head and get on with your life.” Wellness publication Shape.com listed the “No Worries Workbook” as the best guided journal for stress in 2023.
Shape.com’s best overall journal is “Zen as F*ck,” written by Monica Sweeney. Sweeney wrote the book to “turn toxic positivity on its head” by providing “cathartic” methods of venting and gratitude journaling with lots of swearing and prompts to turn off any stressful thoughts in your life.
5. Maintain a routine.
Similar to journaling, sometimes maintaining a schedule or planning your day out in the mornings can help prevent stressors. Writing in a physical planner — not your online Google Calendar — can help you remember all of the things you need to do that day, week, month or year, and it allows you to take a break from your screens, even just for 10 minutes. Plus, many planners have different focuses, including self-care, mindfulness and physical activity.
Simple Self, founded by entrepreneur Marylyn Davis, offers planners for more than just writing out your schedule. Davis said she was looking for a daily planner that allowed her to make goals for self-care, gratitude and mental wellness, so she created Simple Self to do just that. Her best-selling self-care planner has room for habit tracking, self-care check-ins and setting intentions with both weekly and monthly editions.
Similarly, Free Period Press, a self-care stationery and blogging company founded by Lora DiFranco, sells planners with self-care focuses, workbooks and habit trackers. Primarily, the company focuses on setting intentions and creating habits for living well and taking care of yourself. It also has adult coloring books for the days when you just need to get off your phone.
6. Surround yourself with as much “good” news as you can.
The news cycle can be ugly. Constantly reading or hearing about the worst things going on in the world can seriously be detrimental to one’s mental health. But there are positive things happening in the world, too.
Wondermind, a mental fitness platform started by Selena Gomez in partnership with her mom, has an email newsletter, bringing articles on mental wellness to your inbox. The content includes interviews with celebrities and influential people on anxiety, self-love, healing from trauma, meditation practices and more.
The Newsette, founded by Daniella Pearson, sends a daily newsletter to your inbox with “engaging and digestible content.” The newsletter has a mixture of beauty and style tips with relevant news for women intended to “make women across the globe feel more powerful every single day.” For Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s incorporating “Mental Health Mondays,” where the newsletter plans to include “something to do, read, and buy” to aid your mental health.