No one can deny it’s been a long and stressful year, and we may not be out of the tunnel yet. However, being stressed day in and day out is no way to live. Excessive, long-term stress can have a negative impact on mental and physical health, which is why for National Stress Awareness Month, we want to share simple ways you can chase away the stress for a while.
How You Can Reduce Stress in Your Life
We’ve compiled seven easy ways to help reduce stress that you can do yourself from home for little or no cost.
Meditation is a technique that has been in use for thousands of years, and has been proven to help reduce stress. Start by sitting down in a position you find comfortable. It doesn’t have to be cross-legged, either; you could also sit in a chair. Close your eyes, while keeping your muscles relaxed, and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you do so, reduce your focus to one thing, and try to block out everything else. You could focus on a sound, a feeling, or the awareness of your own body, so long as it is not anything that is distracting or worrying you, like your to-do list for the day.
If you find it hard to keep your mind from wandering during meditation, don’t worry. Like anything, meditation takes practice, and you’ll get the hang of it soon. Don’t chastise yourself for losing focus; when you notice your mind wander, simply reset and begin again. Start small, 5-10 minutes a day, and set a timer to prevent you from continually checking your phone to see how long it’s been. There are also a lot of good phone apps available that are great for first-timers and experts alike.
A Change of Scenery
Physically removing yourself from the source of your stress, even just for a little while, can help you “reset” your stress levels. Make time in your work schedule for a 15-minute snack break and make sure eat away from your desk, or take a 10-minute walk outside.
Surrounding Yourself with Greenery
Houseplants are proven to improve air quality in a home, but they can also act as mood-boosters! Numerous studies have shown that simply looking at a plant can switch a person’s brain over to a different mode of processing. The results? Reduced heart rate, reduced levels of stress and aggression, and improved memory, concentration, and creativity!
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This relaxation technique reduces stress by progressively tensing then untensing one muscle group at a time. Here’s how it works: breathe in while tensing the first muscle group (for example, you might start with your feet), hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax those muscles while breathing out. Stay relaxed for 10-20 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group (for example, your calves).
This exercise works best while sitting or lying down. While you might notice other muscles tensing when you first start, really focus on only tensing one muscle group at a time. Progress up your body until you’ve reached your head. Take about 15-20 minutes to complete this exercise.
Exercise has been called “mediation in motion,” because it can help you forget other distractions or worries to focus on your body’s movement in the moment. Exercise can also release a rush of endorphins to improve your mood, what you may have heard of before as “the runner’s high.”
However, it only works if it’s something you enjoy. If you dread the idea of your alarm going off for a morning jog before work, then it likely won’t be as effective a form of stress-relief as you hope. It may be that a non-traditional type of exercise, such as yoga or even gardening, could be the one for you!
Studies have shown that constant interruptions from smartphone and email notifications can increase heart rate, tense muscles, and trigger a stress hormone in the brain.
It’s easier said than done, but even if for just 30 minutes a day, find a window where you can commit to no screen time. That means turning off the computer and TV, and more importantly, not only putting down your phone, but turning it off!
When you are feeling upset or stressed, smiling is probably the last thing you feel like doing. However, studies show that the physical act of smiling can trigger chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin that boost your mood.
Studies have also shown that laughter can reduce inflammation in the arteries, lower levels of stress hormones, and even increase good cholesterol. That sounds like a good reason to justify taking a moment to enjoy a funny meme or video to break up the day.
Reduce Stress, Reduce Accidents
The negative effects of stress are endless. Stress can cause insomnia, increase levels of aggression, impair situational awareness and concentration, and more. And all this increases your risk of causing or being injured in an accident, from workplace accidents to auto accidents.
Take the time this month to improve your mental well-being, and you’ll be helping those around you as well. I If you find yourself injured due to the actions of someone else, let Joye Law Firm take some of the stress out of that, too. We can help you get compensation, while you focus on recovery.
Have questions about an injury claim? Ask the experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm today.