Stress is an unfortunate aspect of our everyday lives. For our ancestors, stress was a survival skill for the numerous life-threatening situations that arose on a daily basis. But in today’s modern age, the constant stressors that come at us from our work and home lives has become a health concern.
According to an American Psychological Association
study, the overall stress levels of Americans have increased over the past decade, with greater percentages of adults reporting extreme levels of stress. As for the source of their stress, money and work top the list followed closely by family responsibilities, health concerns, and the economy.
If left untreated, stress can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, obesity, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are a few simple techniques to get the upper hand on managing your stress.
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings of Stress
The first step in finding relief is to acknowledge that you’re having feelings of stress or unhappiness. Then tell yourself that these feelings are normal and that it’s okay to experience these emotions. Doing this allows you to stop focusing solely on the emotion, giving you a chance to start finding solutions.
2. Take Time for Yourself
If you’re feeling the effects of stress, chances are you’re not performing at your best. And pushing yourself past your limits isn’t beneficial. Even taking just 15 minutes of “me time” to refocus can give you a renewed outlook. Whether it’s finding a quiet nook to read, practicing mindfulness
, meditating, or going on a short walk, taking some time for yourself can provide much-needed stress relief.
3. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is crucial to not only your emotional wellbeing, but your physical and mental wellbeing too. Saying yes to every request or invitation will leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Learn to say no to demanding requests that encroach on your time or to obligations that spread you too thin. Although this can be difficult to do, remember saying no allows you to say yes to the things that truly make you happy.
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4. Practice Healthy Habits
Work obligations alongside family obligations barely leaves you enough time to eat and sleep — let alone making time for exercise or a trip to the gym. But your wellbeing should be one of your priorities every day. Without sleep, exercise, proper nutrition, and a healthy work/life balance
, feelings of stress and depression can easily take over.
Carve out at least 15 minutes (30 minutes is ideal) each day to exercise. Whether it’s enjoying your favorite yoga class or taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood, the stress-busting effects of daily exercise will leave you feeling energized and improve your mood.
Finding time to volunteer can feel overwhelming, but the rewards can do wonders for your happiness levels. Studies have found that people who volunteer are happier than those who don’t
. When planning a get-together with friends or family, suggest doing a group service project. This way you still get to spend time with loved ones while reducing stress and having an impact in your community. It’s a win-win situation.
If you don’t have enough time to do a service project, remember that little acts of kindness add up and benefit both you and the person that you’ve made a difference to.
6. Seek support
Sometimes all we need is someone to talk to. Seek out a trusted friend, colleague, or family member to talk through the stressors and have her help you figure out solutions (or just be an empathetic listener, whichever you need most). However, if — despite your best efforts — you’re still feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or experiencing any indicators of depression, contact a mental health professional.