By managing your stress, you can have a healthier life. Stress is more than an inconvenience â€“ in fact, studies have shown that those who experience high levels of stress may be at increased risk of being diagnosed with a serious illnesses or disease. Weâ€™ll take a look at several ways to help you better manage the stress and anxiety that is so commonplace these days.
First, what can possibly contribute to high levels of stress in individuals today? Can it be the increased time spent in gridlocked traffic when compared to twenty years ago? Or, can the increase in working hours that most domestic workers face add up to more stress around the clock (Americans worked, on average, one month more per year in 1990 than they did in 1970!)? Maybe it is a culmination of all of the technology and rapid access to information that has affected our ability to â€œturn offâ€ and let our minds relax. Whatever the cause, Americans are experiencing stress and anxiety these days and it is certainly a contributor to health issues and longevity. To help you improve your health and wellness, take note of the following healthy habits that can effectively lower your levels of stress and anxiety:
- Sleep: While the notion of â€œgetting more sleepâ€ seems like an obvious and overly-simplified factor in reducing stress, the truth is â€“ Americans donâ€™t get enough sleep, and the quality of that sleep is often compromised. First, you must set a timer that tells you when to start prepping for bed. Set it for, say, 10pm and begin your nighttime ritual then. Brushing teeth, changing into sleeping clothes, and other pre-sleep activities should wrap up at a reasonable time to allow you at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Keep caffeine consumption and TV watching to a minimum at night, and youâ€™ll realize better sleep patterns. This is often considered as a leading method of combating stress.
- Meditate: The benefits of meditation include a better understanding and comfort with yourself, enhanced relaxation, and clear thinking. And, no expensive CDs, books, or meditative aids are required. Simply set aside three to five minutes per night, right before bed, and find a quiet place to reflect. You can recite a mantra, such as â€œI had a terrific day,â€ or â€œI feel at peace.â€ The goal is to slow down, tune yourself to the cadence of your breathing, and relax.
- Social Interaction: Identify what you’re grateful for in your life. Oftentimes, the social interaction of picking up the phone and talking for five to ten minutes (or more!) with a friend or close family member can have an uplifting effect. Youâ€™ll frequently feel better after expressing thoughts and feelings with another individual â€“ so make sure that you pick your connections wisely. A â€œdownerâ€ personality can counter the positive side effects of reaching out and talking.
- Exercise: No matter how minor your workout may seem, taking even ten minutes to elevate your heart rate and break a sweat can do wonders for stress management. The endorphins that are released during and after bouts of exercise have been proven to be as strong as commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications. Give yourself a natural dose of stress and anxiety relief by creating an exercise plan that works for you.
- Laugh: Get creative and find a way to laugh more than you do right now. Whether that means discovering a new, 30-minute sitcom that really gets you going, checking out the local comedy clubs, or simply throwing on a hilarious movie once in a while, there are so many ways to find humor in our world â€“ and itâ€™s good for you!
Learning to manage stress and anxiety through these five activities will help you discover a better you. Stress can be a killer, and life is simply better without anxiety bothering you.