5 Easy Ways to Manage Stress
Stress is something we have all experienced at some point in our lives. While small amounts every now and then is normal, there’s the flip side. When stress piles up over long periods of time, you end up mentally, emotionally, and physically burned out. One of the most common stressors is any type of change in our lives — like moving to another city, starting a new job or experiencing a loss. Many also feel the onset of stress seasonally, such as during a new school year or during the holidays.
Although stress may seem like an emotion you can bottle up until it passes, it’s more than that. While we experience emotional effects of stress, it is actually a physiological response. When we’re stressed, the body releases hormones and neurochemicals that impact the Endocannabinoid System, which is responsible for maintaining hormonal balance. That’s why long-term, sustained stress can be harmful and cause you to become physically ill. If you want to manage your stress before it reaches an extreme, try implementing these healthy habits into your daily routine.
1. Minimize your screen time
For many, a high amount of screen time is a contributing factor of stress. Studies have uncovered complex relationships between children developing anxiety and depression with increasing amounts of screen time and a notable association between screen time and depression among American adults. If you find yourself reaching for your phone habitually out of instinct, you may want to consider setting social media usage timers on your phone. Popular apps, like Instagram, offer a native timer within their settings that warn you once you’ve reached your daily usage limit. There are also third-party apps you can use that track the amount of time you spend on your phone and give you a warning once you’ve reached the limits you pre-set for yourself.
Our phones feed us a lot of content — emails, texts, push notifications and in-app social feeds. The volume of content coming our way can be overwhelming, and a factor in the stress we develop. If you find that is the case for you, try cutting down on the amount of time you spend on your phone and replace it with a healthier habit, like reading a book, exercising or taking a walk outside while listening to your favorite music.
2. Slow down and enjoy the grooming process
We tend to look at basic hygiene tasks, like brushing teeth and bathing, as necessary chores. But, if you let yourself enjoy the time spent grooming, it can be a rejuvenating experience. Focus your attention on the task at hand and how it feels, and think to yourself that this is something you get to do, not something you have to do.
While you may not have time to turn your evening hygiene process into a spa night every night, your mind and body will benefit from you spending a little extra time treating yourself. This can be as simple as giving yourself a pedicure, soaking in a hot bath or massaging moisturizing lotion into your skin after a warm, steamy shower. Small actions like these that make your body feel good can have a positive effect on your mental health.
3. Engage in de-stressing movement
Exercise doesn’t always have to be about weight loss or trying to achieve a certain look — there are so many benefits to exercise that go beyond aesthetics. Your body wants to move, especially if it’s been sitting at a desk for the majority of the day. If you don’t feel motivated or are short on time, you can start with movement as simple as a walk around your neighborhood or stretching for five minutes before bedtime.
When you’re able to carve out some time, try a yoga class. Many classes are now being offered virtually so you can practice in the comfort and convenience of your home. Rolling essential oils on your temples or wrists can be a good way to promote focus or relaxation during your yoga practice.
If you’re not a fan of yoga, try going out for a bicycle ride to enjoy the change of scenery outdoors. Or, blast your favorite tunes at home and have a spontaneous dance party. These are great stress-relieving activities, and you’ll find that when you move your body you will also gain energy.
4. Savor your favorite foods
If you live a fast-paced lifestyle, cooking or eating may be the last thing on your mind. You might find yourself eating lunch at your work desk or eating dinner in front of the TV with your phone in hand. These distractions deprive you of enjoyment you should be experiencing every day.
When it comes to the mechanics of eating, the tongue can detect only so many flavors. The true complex flavors from food also come from its aromas, which is absorbed most strongly through the throat rather than the nose. As the food’s aroma travels from the back of the mouth up into the nasal cavity, you obtain the full flavors of your food. By eating too quickly, there isn’t time for the food’s aroma to travel and you end up missing out on the complete culinary experience. This doesn’t mean that meal time needs to stretch into hours either — by simply taking a couple of more chews each bite and focusing on eating, you can elevate this everyday experience.
During your next meal, put aside distractions and savor each bite, focusing on the flavors and textures of your food. If you have time, try cooking a healthy, balanced meal for yourself. Creating meals in the kitchen is a great form of self-expression that can aid in reducing stress. While you’re at it, try experimenting with a hemp recipe that uses CBD oil for added wellness benefits.
5. Begin a journaling routine
If you’ve been having trouble quieting your mind, you may benefit from a journaling practice. Many people like to journal as a part of their morning or evening routine. If you choose to journal in the morning, it can help keep your thoughts clear for the day. When you write all of your feelings and concerns out on the page, it can be easier to tackle the day’s responsibilities ahead of you. Alternatively, if you choose to journal at night before bed, it can help you wind down. This can be beneficial if you have trouble falling asleep.
Studies have shown that journaling can aid in mitigating mental distress and increase your overall well-being. It has also been found that simply writing about stressful or emotional events can help improve your physical and psychological health, and that it can be utilized as a therapeutic tool.
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