Stress affects us all. From minor instances, such as experiencing a poor night of sleep or arriving a few minutes late to work, to major instances, such as divorce, severe illness, or injury, stressors large and small will plague us throughout life. Our personal and professional lives are impacted when we’re stressed—we may lash out at loved ones, for example, or withdraw from friends; we may resort to using food, alcohol, or other substances to mask the tension; or the stress may manifest as physical symptoms. Sometimes stress becomes part of a vicious circle in which feelings of stress are compounded. Perhaps we feel uneasy due to stress, and this affects our resilience and ability to manage daily stressors, which ultimately leaves us feeling more stressed and susceptible to illness or mental health challenges.
Some of the most common sources of stress in the United States include workplace stress, financial strain, chronic illness, relationship difficulties, sleep problems, or excessive media consumption, including social media, television, or Internet usage. Symptoms may include muscle tension, irritability, anxiety, headaches, nausea, fatigue, or feeling emotionally overwhelmed or weepy.
Recognizing stressors, managing symptoms, and employing self-care strategies are some of the most critical preventive steps we can take to keep from feeling overwhelmed by stress. To facilitate these efforts, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best online resources for help with stress—GoodTherapy.org excluded—in 2014. Our selections are based on quality and depth of content, presentation, and functionality.
- The American Institute of Stress: The American Institute of Stress is a nonprofit organization that provides information and resources about various causes and symptoms of stress, as well as materials for stress solutions and treatment. Site visitors can participate in online forums, watch lectures on stress and stress management, and explore academic publications related to stress research. Free site registration enables you to interact with others on the site and use the forums. Health care professionals can seek certification from AIS to indicate their expertise in the field of stress and stress relief.
- Stress Cure: Stress often arises because of workplace issues, relationship problems, and other challenges in life. While it’s usually impossible to anticipate and prepare for these challenges, it is possible to cope with them when they do arise. On the site, Dr. Morton C. Orman offers 18 in-depth tips and suggestions for dealing with unexpected changes. The majority of other content has been moved or re-created at OrmanStressRelief.com, which is a more up-to-date resource for handling life stress.
- Totally Stressed Out: Created primarily for students, Totally Stressed Out offers stress-management solutions that can help with productivity and managing nerves. Academic issues can be constant sources of anxiety for students, hindering their ability to get things done, be creative, and commit knowledge to memory. By addressing symptoms of stress in both body and mind, Totally Stressed Out coaches students through relaxation and developing healthy habits for efficient, stress-free work.
- Caregiver Stress: If you’re caring for an ill or injured partner, an aging parent, or another loved one, you might not be aware of the toll it’s taking until you’re overwhelmed, perhaps even experiencing health problems yourself.This site provides an online assessment to help caregivers understand how their mental and physical health is affected by their caregiving responsibilities. With a blog that covers issues such as end-of-life care, financial problems, family communication, and specific health concerns, Caregiver Stress can help caregivers gain wisdom about practicing self-care and reducing stress.
- Stress Directions: If you’re not sure your level of stress is taking a toll on your health and well-being, or if you simply would like to learn more about stress and its symptoms, Stress Directions provides information and assessments that can help. Their Personal Stress Navigator test has 246 items that evaluate one’s susceptibility to stress, the symptoms a person may be experiencing, and the source of the stress. Site visitors can learn about what stress does in the body, including neuromuscular, cognitive, hormonal, and immune symptoms.
- Stressed Teens: For many teens, the ability to slow down and be present often does not come easily or naturally. They are usually fairly new to stress, and may not know or understand the symptoms or ways to cope. Created by Gina M. Biegel, LMFT, Stressed Teens teaches mindfulness practices geared toward teens and adolescents. Resources include tips for disconnecting from technology to reduce stress, mindfulness exercises for teens and parents, and simple activities that can help manage symptoms.
- Stress Relief Exercises: Physical activity has been shown time and time again to reduce stress, but stress-relief exercises don’t have to require physical exertion. Simple stretches, brain exercises, meditation, and mindful breathing techniques can help eliminate symptoms of stress. This site includes tutorials on all of these methods and others, including information about how each technique can help reduce stress. Other articles touch on further ways of destressing by clearing clutter in your home or adopting a pet.
- Stress Fish: On the left sidebar of StressFish.com, you will find a link that randomly generates a helpful—and occasionally strange or offbeat—tip for reducing stress immediately. One tip involves singing “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and watching a GIF of a tumbleweed rolling across the screen. The description explains, “The StressFish thinks it’s funny, and claims that this has helped him in the past to clear his mind of unwanted fears and stressful imaginings.” Stress Fish aims to help children, adults, and everyone in between find effective ways to manage stress in fun, unconventional ways. The techniques may be silly, but the intent is earnest and authentic.
- Stress Free Kids: Family dynamics and conflicts can put a strain on all family members, creating stress and anxiety for children and adults alike. Parents can use StressFreeKids.com to introduce children to basic mindfulness techniques, help boost their self-esteem, and make bedtime easier. On the site, you can find specific tips for military families and helping family members with autism, plus free downloadable resources such as guided relaxation audio clips for kids. The StressFreeKids blog also offers information related to seasonal stressors, like going back to school and the holidays.
- Foundation for Well Being: The Foundation for Well Being promotes relaxation and peace of mind through articles and informative slideshows. If you are a teacher, parent, or caregiver, or if you learn best with visual aids, the Foundation for Well Being slideshows are a great way to learn and share information. Hidden gems throughout the site include information about de-cluttering your living space and improving feng shui, a collection of inspirational quotes about happiness, and a series of GIFs depicting rotating shapes (meant to calm nerves).
Have a website you would like to see in our Top 10? Recommend it here.
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