We tend to focus on health strictly in a medicinal way despite the fact that 77% of people experience stress that affects their physical health. This can come from traffic, work or getting stuck in the self checkout line behind the person with a cart full of items. The stress you carry in your mind takes a toll on your body whether you realize it or not. Here are some common symptoms caused by too much stress in your life.
According to health.gov, managing your stress can reverse many of these symptoms and even lower your risk for other conditions like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and depression. There are things you can inject into your daily routine that will bolster your mental health in less time than it takes you to pick out something to watch on Netflix. Here are some easy tips and exercises to help you find a little more balance and kick stress’ butt.
Reserve 20-30 minutes per day to read a book. Pick something that has nothing to do with your occupation. It could be a book to better yourself or just a fun fiction read but no matter what you choose, try to lose yourself in the pages. This is your mind’s time to escape the daily grind and go play in its imagination.
Take 10 minutes each day to journal about something you appreciate in your life. Taking a moment to recognize the positive things in your life will slow down your mind and allows it to step out of the swamp that stress can create. We tend to only focus on negatives and this will train your brain to reserve some space for the good stuff.
A short, 10 minute meditation can be the cleanse your mind needs to take on or recover from the day. You don’t need to be the Dalai Lama or a trained meditation professional to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. Download a free app on your phone for guided meditations or just find a quiet place to sit and be present. Either way your mind will thank you for the period of tranquility, no matter how brief.
Get your body moving. It is no secret that exercise is vital to a physical health but that extends to the mind as well. Working out, even if it is just a short walk each day, allows the body to burn away toxins and ease the negative effects of stress. After just a few short weeks of exercise you will see a huge difference in the way you feel and you will start to look forward to that release.
The old adage “You are what you eat” couldn’t be more true. Processed foods contribute to the sluggishness of not only the body but the mind as well. Simple changes like substituting water for sugary drinks or a salad for fries can go a long way, even if it is just one meal a day. Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph. D., a senior research scientist at Abbott says, "A healthy diet builds a solid, more enduring foundation for your body by reducing oxidation and inflammation.”
One of nature’s main sources of happiness constantly surrounds us and we hardly pay attention. Sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of serotonin which helps you feel more calm and focused. Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that creates the feeling of happiness and euphoria. So get outside and get your daily dose of happy!
Life is hard enough without carrying other people’s baggage. We all have people in our lives that weigh us down mentally, emotionally, or financially. Create some space between you and these people. If you can’t cut them out of your life completely then make rules for yourself. Limit the amount of time you spend with them or talk/text with them on the phone. If they begin to pile their problems on your shoulders politely excuse yourself from the situation. You have enough on your plate.
Not everyone has the time or money for vacations to luxurious beach cities but you can always find ways to take a break. If it feels like your life is constantly on the go, then schedule a “break day” the same way you would a work meeting or drinks with a friend. Stay home, get a hotel room by yourself, or take a long drive. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, it just needs to be your time away from the real world.
In the same way that food becomes who we are, so does the external stimuli that we surround ourselves with. Changing the types of TV shows, movies, and music we consume can have a major effect on mood and stress. We know you love those murder mysteries, but maybe sub in a fun cooking show every once in a while. Your mind will thank you.