Self-Care tools to alleviate stress and burnout with a busy lifestyle

Self-Care Tools to Alleviate Stress & Burnout with a Busy Lifestyle

We live in a fast-paced modern society where stress is inevitable especially when it is hard to unplug ourselves from our world of technology. Maybe you’re stressed at work; maybe you’re part of the Sandwich Generation (Generation X) taking care of kids and parents’ needs simultaneously; maybe you’re a caregiver for a spouse; or maybe you just haven’t put the focus on yourself for a very long time or made self-care a priority.

Daily self-care is vital for building resilience and developing the tools to be better equipped to live a more balanced life, both emotionally and physically, and to feel less overwhelmed to tackle stressors that are inevitable in our everyday lives. Taking care of our mind, body, and spirit involves several components including physical activity, a balanced diet, and meditation.

One of the basic steps to managing stress is setting realistic goals and priorities, according to the Mayo Clinic. It recommends focusing on breaking larger tasks into smaller tasks you can do one at a time, following a daily routine, and making a list of what’s important or what commitments you can decline. Social support and connections are also important to alleviate stress. Schedule time to stay connected to friends and family who are supportive. Also, consider joining an online support group for additional encouragement to reinforce that you don’t have to handle this all alone.


Practicing meditation daily, if even for a few minutes, can help with relaxation and calm your mind. In mindfulness meditation, focus on the flow of your breath to restore your inner peace and calmness. Meditation doesn’t require any special equipment and can be easily adapted to a daily routine whether you’re out for a walk, waiting at the doctor’s office, or sitting outside.


Some people find physical healing and relaxation from reiki, an ancient Japanese hands-on technique, in which energy-based healing is transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient. Reiki has been linked to stress reduction and overall well-being by inducing a deep state of relaxation. During a reiki session, recipients often experience a profound sense of calm and peace as the gentle energy flows through them, helping to alleviate tension and anxiety.


A balanced diet is another key factor in coping with stress as well as staying active. “Sometimes, when we’re missing nutrients, our bodies become less able to regulate body functions like hormone production (including stress hormones such as cortisol), which can increase feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression,” said Rockport nutritionist Sarah Skovran, RDN LD. “When we eat enough of the things our bodies need, we have more energy and interest to participate in physical activities we enjoy. Both adequate nutrient levels and daily physical activity can improve hormone levels, which directly improve both our emotional and physiological stress.”

By making self-care a priority, you can make long-term improvements in your quality of life.Photo courtesy pasja1000 via Pixabay

By making self-care a priority, you can make long-term improvements in your quality of life.
Photo: pasja1000 via Pixabay


Experts all agree on the importance of exercise, at any level, to help alleviate stress. Counting steps with a smartwatch, with a built-in pedometer to track and record the number of steps taken, is a flexible and low-cost way of getting physical activity when time is limited. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends walking as an easy way for inactive people to ease into better health. It advocates a goal of 10,000 steps a day; however, recent studies have shown that health benefits accrue even if taking 4,000 or fewer steps a day.

And, you can level up your walking program by focusing on breathing techniques which can help initiate the body’s parasympathetic response as part of your individual healthcare goals.

“Incorporating breath work with walking can also increase the function of your breathing muscles so they won’t get tired as quickly,” said Daniel H. Craighead an assistant research professional at the University of Colorado Boulder in a January 2024 CNN news story. “And it’s a tactic that can be especially relevant to athletes and distance walkers.”

“If you’re doing something that really targets your breathing muscles and makes them work hard independently, it’s just like lifting weights for your arms,” Craighead said. “You’re targeting specific muscles, and they’re going to get stronger with training.”

One method when exercising is to establish a regular breathing pattern by inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two steps. The recommended goal is to eventually start timing breaths with your steps.

By making self-care a priority, you can make long-term improvements in your quality of life and improve your ability to cope with everyday stresses and challenges. If you are a caregiver or have other family responsibilities, one of the benefits of becoming emotionally and mentally balanced can result in a renewed focus to take of yourself before you take care of others. Developing new tools to manage stress can lead to being more present in the moment and discovering new and unique opportunities in your relationships with family, friends, and community.

Story by Sarah Shepherd.
is a Midcoast Maine freelance writer and a regular contributor to Penobscot Bay Pilot.

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