Stress levels in the U.S. skyrocketed during Covid-19. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans report that the pandemic is a significant source of stress in their life. Our collective need to reduce stress in life is making headlines seemingly every day.
And your chances of experiencing stress only increase if you have a demanding job. If you’re a doctor, teacher, or caretaker, or you simply work too much, the past two years have probably been pretty tough. But even if not, everyone has commitments to family, friends, and others that can create a lot of stress in life.
Needless to say, learning to manage your stress these days is more important than ever. In fact, many new devices have been developed to help us in the battle.
Not addressing stress is unsustainable. It could even lead to serious mental disorders like anxiety or depression. In fact, stress can even make it more difficult to go to the bathroom. To avoid all of these negative outcomes and relieve stress when it comes, here are 10 things you can do.
1. Go for a walk or run.
Staying indoors is easy. But sometimes it’s good to get out for a walk or run to get a little exercise to reduce stress in life.
Moving your body and immersing yourself in nature helps you stay active and boosts your mood.
Meditating is another way to destress. If it seems a little too spiritual or religious to you, it doesn’t have to be. Meditating just means anchoring yourself in the present moment.
Here’s how you do it.
- Get in a comfortable sitting position, clear your mind, and breathe deeply.
- Try to notice your breath and the sensations in your body.
- If a thought or a worry comes to your mind, acknowledge it briefly and then let it fade away.
This helps slow down your heart rate so you can relax and feel calm.
3. Give yoga a shot.
Doing yoga is a great way to stretch your muscles and relieve some of the built-up tension in your body.
Try taking a class, watching some instructional videos, or downloading an app to guide you.
You don’t need to do anything advanced. Start out with something easy. You can even do just a few minutes of yoga per day, like during a break at work or before you go to bed.
4. Maintain a balanced diet.
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to overeat or not eat enough. This is sometimes called “emotional eating.”
But it’s only a temporary coping mechanism that will actually increase your stress in the long run.
To reduce stress, keep a balanced diet. That means getting plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein. Also avoid lots of sugars, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine, including too much coffee — all of which lead to higher stress levels.
5. Take consistent breaks.
Sometimes we just need a break. It’s easy to get carried away with work and never stop for a breather. So slow down and reduce stress in life every once in a while.
If you have trouble doing this, try the Pomodoro method. It involves setting a work timer for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. After doing this 4 times in a row, take a longer 15-30 minute break and then repeat until you’re done for the day.
It sounds simple, but it will help give your brain the breaks it needs and make you more productive at the same time.
6. Limit your screen time.
TVs, smartphones, tablets — they’re both a blessing and a curse. Yes, they have many valuable, productive uses, but they can also be a huge source of stress.
Online videos and social media, for example, are designed to keep your brain constantly wanting more. Their creators profit from your attention, so they do all they can to keep you coming back for more.
But your brain wasn’t made for constant entertainment.
And if you don’t stop looking at screens every once in a while, you’re going to feel more stressed.
7. Make time for a hobby.
Everyone should have at least one hobby.
Life shouldn’t only be about responsibilities. It’s good to do something just for fun every now and then.
A hobby doesn’t have to be intense. It could be reading, journaling, drawing, knitting, or gardening. Whatever it is, make time for it in your busy schedule.
You’ll find it helps you destress and even be more productive when you are working.
Another way to relieve stress is to vent.
Sometimes just vocally letting out your frustrations and tensions can do a lot of good. Talk to family, friends, a pastor, or even a therapist. Anyone that’s willing to let you just talk.
Be careful, though. Vent only to others with a proven track record of keeping your confidences.
In a similar vein, laugh more. Laughing lowers your cortisol, which is the main stress hormone in your body.
Don’t take things too seriously and laugh off the unimportant things. Life’s too short to worry about everything.
10. Hug someone.
Lastly, get a hug from someone. (Make sure they are 100% okay with hugging before you go in for the clinch!)
Hugs help release oxytocin in your body, which is responsible for reducing stress and anxiety levels. In other words, hugs help calm you. If one hug is not enough, you can even cuddle with someone for the same effect.
Ultimately, stress is a part of life. But that doesn’t mean you need to be stressed all the time.
Try out some of the above techniques to keep your stress at a manageable level. You’ll be glad you did.