Smart Strategies for Coping with Stress
Between the pandemic, domestic and global politics, and the duties of everyday life, it’s no wonder that 55% of Americans report being stressed during the day (The American Institute of Stress). Today’s vicious news cycle only exacerbates the anxieties many Americans were struggling with before the events of 2020. Professional pressure, relationship and family troubles, and personal development challenges are just a few of the struggles people have long been facing. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
April is Stress Awareness Month, which reminds us to be proactive in seeking respite from the weight of our worries. We know that good quality sleep, moderate exercise, and healthy eating are all essential for our well-being, but at this point in the pandemic, it might take more than that to chill out and find some joy. We put together some ideas to help find the right type of stress relief for you.
Utilize your phone’s Do Not Disturb function
Eliminating notifications is a game-changer, as it has become second nature to reply to texts, calls, social media DMs, and more in real-time. Even if you can only do this for a few hours a day, turning off your alerts creates a boundary between you and your device without having to think about it. Time travel back to the days when your smartphone wasn’t an extension of your arm and reaped the benefits of resting or even working without interruptions.
Take a social media sabbatical
Social media can wreak havoc on our mental health at any age. The constant barrage of distressing news updates juxtaposed against doctored selfies and dream vacations is enough to drive anyone insane. Try taking a mindful minute away from your channels. Maybe that means you hide your favorite social platform icon in a folder on your phone, or perhaps it’s turning off those aforementioned notifications. You could also delete the app or deactivate your account for a bit, just to see how it feels to be free.
Turn off not-so-real TV
While clicking the off button on the endless bickering and weeping may seem like a given: Seriously, don’t watch things that fuel stress or negative emotions or comparative thinking. Still, it’s hard to rip away from the reality TV franchises we’ve become so attached to. Don’t fall for fake content that’s pretending to be real; instead, find something happy or relaxing to watch. You can also find comfort in a favorite movie or show that takes you back to a more joyful time.
Make your home a stress-free zone
No eye roll necessary – we know that work-from-home schedules, kids’ canceled activities, and outstanding household to-dos may be the actual source of your stress. You can still find little ways to give your place a more relaxing vibe, or at the very least one room of the home. Try selecting a soothing paint color or buying some fresh flowers. If you’re a fan of organization, take some inspiration from Netflix’s The Home Edit and rejigger your pantry or bathroom for benefits beyond just having an orderly space.
Go back to your breath
Breathwork is a fantastic tool for combating stress and anxiety – and it’s free. Try one of these 10 breathing exercises next time you need a reset and see how you feel. Experts recommend starting and ending the day with a short breathwork or meditation session for extra relief as well.
Play with a pet
The CDC recently posted about the health benefits of having a pet, which range from (you guessed it) reduced stress and anxiety to lower blood pressure. Any kind of animal can bring a smile to your face, so if a dog or cat isn’t allowed in your residence or simply not allotted for in your budget, don’t sleep on low-maintenance friends like fish. Other ideas: volunteer with animals for an extra dose of dopamine or play a livestream from a zoo.
Look, there will always be tough times, which is why having a gratitude practice is so important. Thinking about the people, experiences, opportunities, and even the things we have in our lives instantly grounds us. Check out this Harvard article on how giving thanks can make you happier, and try starting a daily gratitude journal where you write down three things you’re grateful for each morning or night.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to seek solace in the form of friends, family, therapists, counselors, doctors, and the like. Whether you have an emotionally-taxing job like caring for a sick person or simply have trouble managing your mounting stresses, it’s always safe to ask for help.
We’re here for you, too! Feel free to get in touch if you need assistance seeing a friend or family member through their health struggles or if you need guidance on getting professional care.