Around 34% of adults in the United States say that stress is “completely overwhelming most days,” according to recent data from the American Psychological Association.
The impact of this stress is affecting both our mental health and our physical well-being. In fact, the APA reports that adults with a higher average stress level were more likely than those with a lower average stress level to experience headache, fatigue, feeling nervous or anxious, and feeling depressed or sad.
Stress may appear to be a normal part of life, but it doesn’t have to be.
Taking just a small amount of time each day to proactively practice self-care can have a big impact on our happiness. Here are some quick, everyday strategies that will help reduce stress and improve our overall quality of life:
Take a walk
There’s been a long-established link between physical activity and reduced stress. Consider a brisk, daily walk with members of your household to get out of the home and into the fresh air. Even a brief session of aerobic activity will decrease tension, improve your mood, and decrease anxiety.
Prepare a low-stress meal
Research has shown that certain foods can help reduce stress. This includes healthy, vitamin-rich foods like salmon, okra, and spinach, along with crowd favorites like dark chocolate, potatoes, and oranges. Taking time to cook and eat a favorite meal can also help you relax after a stressful day.
Mindfulness means living with awareness and intention. Practicing mindfulness means you take time each day to rest, reflect, and reconnect, building a potent inner resource that lets you enjoy the good, be present in your life, and bounce back from stress. Others may prefer prayer or meditation, but the key is sharpening your mind and learning to live in the now.
Reach out to friends and family
Keeping in touch with our social network is crucial to maintaining connections and a sense of community. Creating time on your calendar to visit with close friends and family members can improve your ability to deal with stress, foster better self-esteem, and lower cardiovascular risks.
Take a tech break
Our ability to connect with the world through technology can help us feel connected, but it can also be a serious source of stress. Taking a break from social media, news feeds, texts, and calls can provide valuable perspective, ease the tension from stressful headlines, and help you work on mindfulness. Start by setting aside time each day to turn off the electronics and relax.
Don't hesitate to reach out
Although reducing stress in your life will help benefit your mental health, sometimes that's just not enough. If you or someone you love is in need of expert help, don't hesitate to reach out to someone you love to talk about what you're feeling or contact a warm line near you.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988, which offers easy-to-access compassionate care for people experiencing any type of mental health crisis, including thoughts of suicide, self-harm, and substance use, or any emotional distress for either themselves or their loved ones.