Daily stress management is one of the key indicators of mental health and wellness. By being proactive in dealing with stress, we can minimize its impact. Regularly engaging in stress reduction techniques emboldens us to stave off feelings of being completely overwhelmed, depressed, or persistently anxious or panicked.
Here are five ways you can start de-stressing your day today:
Journaling is a tried and true practice for therapists. Many of us came up in training programs that required writing to process our own experiences as students and trainees. Journaling is a simple yet powerful tool that allows for internal thoughts, worries, and concerns to become externalized onto a page. This can help you gain greater insight into your feelings, thoughts, and motivations as well as provide an emotional holding space for difficult material.
2. Spend More Time in Nature
Often overlooked, spending time in nature has great therapeutic effects. With the power of Vitamin D (which helps lift mood), spending time in nature can also be a great mindfulness activity. By communing with nature, many people discuss feeling a greater sense of peace and less rumination (which is consistent with worry and anxiety). Sites like parks and beaches are often popular because they tend to convey feelings of bright energy, enjoyable activities, and generally pleasant conditions.
3. Take a Timeout from Social Media
There are some negative sides to social media. Evolutionarily, human maybe aren’t so prepared for the non-stop action and connection it brings. News can be ever-present and may exacerbate stress, depression, and anxiety. Comparison to other people’s lives may even be making us more depressed. It’s…complicated.
For most of us, it is near impossible to completely disconnect. Instead, consider being more mindful about how you use your smartphone and how much time you’re spending mindlessly scrolling your social media feeds. Set yourself up with 10 minute, intentional intervals to check your feeds so you can stay focused and productive throughout the rest of your day. This may help you better manage stress and anxiety overall. It may also help lessen the pressure that procrastination and distraction put on those looming work deadlines.
4. Go Completely Analog
In addition to monitoring time online, taking time to go analog can also be helpful for a number of reasons. Reading a print magazine or book will not only help limit distractions on your screen (how many tabs open do you have right now?) but can also benefit your health. Give your eyes and body a break from your constant screen watching and take some time daily to go completely screen free. This may also help your overall physical health as it will reduce eye strain and muscle tension from sitting in the same position for hours on end.
5. Consider the Impact of Your Daily Nutrition
Often understated in our understanding of our overall mental health, more research is emerging to help us better understand the connection between nutrition and mental health. Some studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet that is high in fresh fruits, fish, and veggies can serve as a protective factor against mental illness.
When we eat better, our minds are better. We may be better able to cope and deal with stress when we eat well-balanced, nutrient-rich foods. Eating well can be a way to decrease stress and lessen its long-term impact.
Don’t Wait Until You’re Stressed Out
One of the reasons stress builds up and becomes a problem is because we don’t regularly address it. We are not mindful of it. Rather than waiting for it to reach a boiling point, use the above tactics — and more — to make stress reduction part of your lifestyle. Then you won’t even feel like you’re going out of your way to reduce it.