Ahhhh stress. 2020's hottest buzzword. (Just kidding - leaning toward "coronacoaster.") 

For the last few years, and especially in the last few months, it seems like everyone is stressed. And not just stressed by themselves, but more stressed out than YOU. You see, unlike YOUR problems, they have bills to pay and families to feed and appointments to make and things to do and places to be and people to see - and even though you might have the same things on your list, it doesn't matter because they're busier than you and people expect more from them and in the competition of "who is more stressed out" they WIN.

Seriously, when did stress become a competition?

One could make the argument that competitive stress has always been around. Thousands and thousands of years ago, it was a good thing to be more stressed out than your fellow tribe member, because the stronger your fight or flight response (which stemmed from a stressor), the more likely you were to survive. The higher your stress response --> more adrenaline --> the faster you could run away from the mountain lion or rival tribe.

The fight or flight response is still very much a thing, and we need some stress to survive! We need stressors to keep us alert at night on a deserted street. We need stressors to help us jump out of the way of moving cars or receive bad news or protect your body from further injury or to fall in love or start a new job.

Fleeting, momentary stress is well and good - and needed. Chronic stress takes a major toll on health, physically and mentally.

Read on for what stress does to your body, and 8 ways to reduce your stress levels.


My roommates and I went to Yosemite National Park over Labor Day Weekend and we had an absolute blast! I personally loved the chance to escape from the city and enjoy almost three full days without cell service. My phone was nothing more than an expensive camera - which means I took a TON of pictures that I can't wait to share here with y'all!

Two quick notes before we dive in:

1. Due to COVID, Yosemite now requires reservations to enter the park. Reservations are per car and are released on the first day of the month prior to your visit. My roommate Katie got our pass (bright and early in the morning!) on August 1 for September 5, and it's valid for 7 days past the original reservation date. While there were still crowds, this system definitely has its perks: we could always find parking, less bottle-neck on the trails, and virtually no traffic driving around Yosemite Valley.

2. Obviously right now, Yosemite and much of the West Coast are on fire. Wildfires are definitely something to consider if you're planning a trip for the fall. We had two mostly clear days (Saturday and Monday), but of course, the day we planned on going to all of the various viewpoints was the smokiest. You'll see in the pictures below that it looked like an orange filter had been placed over the sky. There's not a ton of service in the valley if you choose to turn on your phone, but there are Park Rangers all over the park if things get too hairy.

Ok, onto our itinerary!