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Stress Resets: Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we are excited to share some of our favorite resources from the experts about how we can take really good care of ourselves. Today, we’re featuring the work of Marielle Segarra, host of the NPR podcast, Life Kit, and clinical psychologist, Dr. Jenny Taitz. Listen to or read the full transcript of the Life Kit podcast here.

Dr. Taitz wrote a book called, Stress Resets: How To Soothe Your Body And Mind In Minutes. In the book, she defines a “stress reset” as something you do to improve the way you feel in minutes. “It allows you, ultimately, to do things that will help you solve problems rather than make things so much worse for yourself,” she says. 

In the podcast, Dr. Taitz outlines three types of stress resets, “Mind resets specifically target thinking in ways that don't serve us. Body resets really target our physical experience of stress. Behavior resets really are meant to improve our behavior so we don't act in ways that just makes stress skyrocket.” 

For “mind resets,” the podcast speaks to naming your emotions to disrupt negative spirals and reengage the logic side of your brain; singing your thoughts to remind yourself not to take things too seriously and bring humor to the situation; and zooming out on your life by making a pie chart of various things that are important to help you see the big picture.

For “body resets,” the podcast shares the benefits of quick bursts of physical movement like jumping jacks; expanding your gaze to notice what is around you and naming what you see or hear; and a good old fashioned sigh, focusing on your breathing.

For “behavior resets,” the podcast talks about building a hope kit of happy memories that help your brain focus on the positive; doing a good deed or volunteering; and being able to really focus down on what the immediate next step is and then taking it. 

Dr. Taitz explains, “For most of us, mental health is really a series of behaviors, and a lot of us underestimate that our habits can be as powerful as antidepressants. And so rather than waiting to be in a really tough situation and trying to get yourself out of it, there are things we can do in advance.”

I really enjoyed thinking about the mind, body, and behavior resets that have become daily practices in my own life and the ways that they help me regulate my own thoughts and emotions. It also encouraged me to reflect on other ways I can incorporate different types of reset into especially stressful times.

Dr. Taitz continues, “I don't want anyone to feel like the goal of life is to build a hope kit or to sing your thoughts, but doing those things will allow us to unhook from the things that are holding us back and inch towards the things that we want our lives to stand for.”

This month, we encourage you to take time to listen to your body and brain and think about what you need and what would best serve you. Do you need a mind reset where you picture your anger as a small orb bouncing around the room? Or would a quick body reset through a walk around the block be more beneficial? Or do you need to take a moment to write a letter to a friend to really restart your mind and focus on something positive?

As Marielle Segarra, the host of the podcast that inspired this post says, “Now, these resets aren't everything you need to know about mental health, but they will give you some space to figure out what you need and what changes you'd like to make in your life.” This week, we encourage you to spend some time thinking about what your favorite stress resets are.


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