How to find calm in a year of chaos

Free therapy, stress resets, a coloring page, and one big puppy as a balm for 2020


This year has not been easy. Our routines and support structures have been upended. Fear and anxiety are up—so too are addiction and depression. We dread the headlines. But if there’s one thing we learned from putting together this package, it’s that no matter what you’re feeling right now, you’re not alone. Said one Emory University psychologist we spoke with, “Nobody is getting a 100 in this particular course.” It’s important to go easy on yourself. First, the basics: Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise. But in a deeper dive, we rounded up questions from readers and posed them to therapists, counselors, and psychologists for their advice; we bet you can relate to at least one of them. We like to consider this package akin to a free counseling session, and although these articles are not a substitute for one-on-one therapy, we hope it’s a start. We also tracked down advice on the best ways to combat your stress in a hurry, from journaling to brewing tea, and we’ve even included a coloring page as a mindfulness exercise. And to lift up your spirits? Big pictures of a sigh-inducing puppy.

What questions do you want to ask a therapist?Ask a Therapist

A few months ago, we rounded up questions from readers and posed them to therapists, counselors, and psychologists for their advice. We bet you can relate to at least one of them. > Keep reading

How to reset your stress

When your cortisol rises, here are six self-soothing strategies from the experts to punch it back down in just a few minutes. > Keep reading

Five spots to find solace in the great outdoors
The grounds at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit

Five spots to find solace in the great outdoors

A quiet sense of calm and contemplation pervades the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. Though the impressive abbey and museum are temporarily closed to the public due to Covid-19, its 2,300-acre grounds and gardens adjacent to Arabia Mountain are open for meditative walks for people of all faiths—or no faith. Settle on a bench overlooking the quiet lake for a moment of soulful reflection. > Learn about the other spots

Puppies!Puppies, please!

Here’s your cue: blood pressure, down. Even if you’re not in a position to get a pet, we thought this photo of Diego, an eight-week-old Beagle mix from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, might give you one big de-stressing sigh. Research has proven that pets, especially dogs and cats, can physically calm us, provide comfort and routine, ease loneliness (a side-effect of social isolation), and promote activity. There are dozens of shelters in Atlanta, many of which have seen record adoptions this year. By press time, Diego had been adopted, but HSNEGA was expecting two more litters of puppies just around this issue’s release date.


Journaling as a self-care practiceJournaling as a Self-Care Practice

Scientific studies have proven that journaling helps manage anxiety and stress. For starters, the physical process of recording your thoughts helps you stay present and evokes mindfulness.

Journaling also helps you organize tasks and challenges that can otherwise feel overwhelming. The simple act of writing down your thoughts makes them tangible and less abstract. Then, you can prioritize and tackle issues or emotions one by one. > Keep reading

Coloring pageColor me calm

Yes, there have been studies. Coloring in a line drawing (versus free drawing or, say, reading) can reduce anxiety and increase mindfulness. No, it’s not exactly art therapy, and you definitely don’t have to be an artist, but you can grab some colored pencils and give it a shot with our drawing by local illustrator Brian Paul Nelson. Another source? You can buy a coloring book by Atlanta artists from ColorATL, which hosts free virtual art workshops and has donated coloring books to health and community organizations across the city. You can also print pages straight from their site. You can print our coloring page here—and enter our coloring contest before November 30 for a chance to win some cool prizes.

TIPP therapyHow a rush of cold temps cools my nerves

The one skill that has served me best—which I’ve shared with friends as they’ve worried about home-schooling, masks, porous surfaces, and the like—is part of a practice called “TIPP,” which stands for “temperature, intense exercise, paced breathing, and paired muscle relaxation.” The “temperature” part is what really sticks with me. > Keep reading

These articles appear in our November 2020 issue.