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Stress. It’s the six-letter word that’s becoming a regular houseguest across America. According to this Gallop Poll, only 4% of Americans say they never feel stressed, with 17% saying they rarely feel stressed. That means there’s 79% of us are dealing with stress on a regular basis. 79%! It seems that for the larger majority, stress is simply unavoidable. A little bit of stress is a good thing. However, too much on a consistent basis (known as chronic stress) can lead to sleepless nights, overeating, high blood pressure, and much, much more.
So what can we do? While quitting your job, shirking all responsibilities, and moving to a hut in Bali may sound like a perfect solution, it’s not exactly feasible for the majority of us, 79%. Instead, there are a few simple things we can start doing today to help reshape our experience with stress.
How it works
1. Keep an eye on your breathing. This may sound crazy if you’re in a hyper-intense state with your heart pounding and your mind running on overdrive to watch your breath. Although, when you pause to breathe deeply and slowly, you’re sending a no-nonsense signal to your brain to calm down.
The internet is filled with many different relaxation breathing techniques you can follow, but sometimes a simple, single breath can offer enough space for your mind to return to the present and put your immediate stress in check.
2. Curb your social media habits. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter…what was life like before social media came around? Along with keeping up to date on the health of your Aunt May’s cat, there’s also the pressure of keeping up with everyone you follow, feelings of jealousy that can arise, fears of missing out (FOMO), and the list goes on. As Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin says, “Technology is a good servant but a bad master.”
Try cutting back on the minutes (or hours, no judgment here) you spend scrolling through your feeds and instead put that time towards something you truly enjoy doing. Not only is this the added benefit of lowering the possible negative effects social media brings along, but you’re also getting the added positive benefits of spending that time in a state of joy and happiness.
(Spoiler alert: This also happens to reduce stress. Keep reading to find out how.)
3. Move your body. Put your cortisol and unsettled energy to better use and get your workout on. Both ends of the exercise spectrum can help reduce the feeling of stress and overwhelm. From yoga and Tai chi to kickboxing and HIIT workouts, you’ll find yourself focusing on your breath while sweating your stress away. And let’s not forget; exercise boosts the production of endorphins, a.k.a. your body’s natural mood elevator.
Not a big exercise fan? Studies have shown a simple walk in nature has stress-reducing benefits as well.
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