Free American Institute of Stress Podcast: ‘Finding Contentment’

“Finding Contentment” is a free podcast series developed by the American Institute of Stress (AIS) in March 2020. The goal of this podcast is to bring new information about stress and stress management techniques to listeners. While the podcast focuses on stress and stress-related issues, it also features interviews with healthcare practitioners, stress experts, and professionals with expertise in stress research and management. Stress is a personalized issue, and the AIS and podcast host and AIS Executive Director Will Heckman hope to help others find their own way to contentment.

With over 30 podcast episodes available to stream, the AIS sets out to address a variety of topics that influence stress and the ability to manage stress. For example, early episodes discussed what stress is, the coronavirus and stress and how to manage the stress of working from home. As the pandemic continued, topics expanded upon “how to survive the stress of social distancing,” “how to survive the stress of a pandemic,” “stress and online learning” and how to “reduce the new stress of working from home.”

Aside from COVID-19 stress-related topics, Heckman and guests converse about more general areas of stress, like its effect on children, the art of stress-free living and the impact of stress on a diet. There are also tips on ways for listeners to proactively work toward eliminating stress in their lives, including through yoga, the Nuuaria Method, walking shelter dogs, improving sleep and more. To give greater insight into the structure of the podcast, here is additional information highlighting three recent episodes:

Six Ways to Get Your Mind ‘Unstuck’”: In this episode, Dr. Robert Carter discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed lives in a multitude of ways. After such a long period of being stuck inside, limiting exposure to friends and family, missing milestones in our lives, such as funerals, weddings, and births, along with juggling obligations at home and at work, is it any surprise that many people are dealing with overwhelming stress, frustration, anger, and more? Listen as speakers discuss the options and choices we can all make to get “unstuck.”

American Institute of Stress

How To Stop Feeling So Stressed”: In this episode, speakers talk with Dr. Margie Warrell about why things feel more stressful now. Increasingly more people have been bringing work laptops and projects home with them at the end of the day. All too many of them are familiar with the drill of checking emails before bed and looking at the news at all hours due to smartphones and social media. All of these things and a lot of others have just added to our feelings of being stressed. Listen to guests’ insights to learn how to stop feeling so stressed.

Why the goal of “reducing stress” often doesn’t work”: This episode talks with Tanya Peterson about why the goal of “reducing stress” often doesn’t work. What does it look like to eliminate stress in your life? No, it doesn’t look like a made-for-television movie. No, it doesn’t look like something only people with extra time and money can do. It looks like everyday life — but without any self-created stress triggers. Everyone needs to develop a way to identify stressors, and then have the tools to manage that stress. 

More About the American Institute of Stress

The American Institute of Stress (AIS) is a nonprofit organization, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas which imparts factual information on stress reduction, stress in the workplace, stress related to military service and the health consequences of chronic, unmanaged stress. AIS was founded in New York in 1978, at the request of Dr. Hans Selye, the “father” of the stress concept, to serve as a clearinghouse of all stress-related information.

The Institute is dedicated to advancing our understanding of the role of stress in health and illness, the nature and importance of mind/body relationships and how to use the organization’s vast innate potential for self-healing. The paramount goal at AIS is to provide a clearinghouse of stress-related information to the general public, physicians and other health professionals interested in exploring the numerous and varied effects of stress on the health and quality of life.

Listen to “Finding Contentment”


How to Manage COVID-19-Related Stress

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone, including seniors and aging adults who receive support from a home care provider. Due to precautions and restrictions, many elements of everyday life have been disrupted, causing stress and anxiety. While increased vaccination efforts present a hope of life returning to normal, the need to cope with the stress of the pandemic continues into the immediate future. To help manage the stress of these circumstances, here are four tips to help overcome these feelings and remain positive:

Focus on positivity

One way to overcome the stress associated with COVID-19 isolation and abnormalities is by striving to focus solely on the positive elements of present-day life. Often, positive thinking begins with what is referred to as “self-talk.” This is the chatter that runs through a person’s head throughout all hours of the day. Transforming negative thoughts into positive thoughts begins here.

When a negative thought comes to mind, each person has the ability to stop and assess this thinking. Then, they can choose to find positivity in each situation. For example, instead of thinking about how isolating COVID-19 circumstances can feel, someone can choose to focus on the fact that they are not currently infected with the virus. Something that can help to identify positive aspects of everyday life is to create a list of things that the person is grateful for.

These strategies can greatly assist in stress management because, according to Mayo Clinic, “When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.”

Find a new hobby

Another way to mitigate COVID-19-related stress is by establishing a new hobby. This helps reallocate time — that would otherwise be spent stressing — on new sources of creativity and entertainment. Whether someone chooses to take on crafting or simply decides to dedicate time to reorganizing or cleaning their home, these actions establish a sense of fulfillment and reward. All of these activities divert one’s attention away from anxious thoughts, while potentially developing new sources of passion.

Take a deep breath or meditate

Relaxation is an important element of mindfulness. Although everyone has different relaxation preferences, learning how to become less tense or anxious can make a vast impact on overall wellness. When stress from the coronavirus begins to feel overwhelming, taking a deep breath or engaging in mediation can help someone to rid themselves of these feelings. Other ways to destress are to take a warm bath, spend time with pets, watch something comforting on TV or call a loved one.

In terms of breathing and meditation, by bringing an individual’s attention to these exercises, they can simultaneously take their mind off the anxiety. There are a number of applications today that can help accomplish this, including the Calm and Headspace apps. Calm is a software company that produces meditation products, including guided meditations and Sleep Stories. Headspace also offers guided meditation through audio sessions where one of the company’s co-creators leads listeners on a journey of contemplation.

Develop a walking routine

A fourth strategy to overcome COVID-19 stress is to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.

Further, the ADAA shares that scientists have found that “regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.” So a simple 20- to 30-minute walk can greatly improve one’s feelings of stress and anxiety.

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