There’s no getting away from it; modern life is stressful. Work, family, and social commitments can make it feel like there are not enough hours in the day, and it’s easy to feel as if we’re on a constantly turning hamster wheel.
A recently commissioned poll found that more Americans than ever are experiencing anxiety over their financial situation, with around 80% of those taking part reporting feeling stressed over the countrywide economic outlook, the effects of the pandemic, or the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Closer to home, longer working hours, office politics, and childcare issues are a few examples of factors causing our collective blood pressure to rise. Stress, especially of the long-term variety, can have serious physical and mental consequences.
Taking steps to mitigate stress levels is vital for a healthier, happier life; here’s how to get started on the road to more relaxed living.
Talking about our feelings is one of the most effective ways to manage difficult situations and find coping mechanisms going forward. Chatting openly to friends and loved ones can help, but if you’re feeling stressed or anxious regularly, therapy or counseling may be an excellent way to help you get back on track.
There are more ways to access counseling than ever before; as well as face-to-face sessions, virtual and telephone appointments are now widely available, meaning that counseling can work around as well as for you.
Have a look at the Thriveworks counseling review to get an idea of what a contemporary counseling service looks like and how it works. This particular provider accepts most healthcare insurance and offers a holistic approach to helping you feel better.
Rethink Your Schedule
This may sound easier said than done, but it’s worth a try. The idea is to look through your schedule honestly to see where tweaks could be made to free up even a little time each week.
Try thinking outside the box. Would your employer be open to you working at home one day a week, saving you some commuting time and stress? Or could you have your weekly call with your mom via video while out walking the dog? Are there certain household tasks that could be amalgamated or delegated to other family members?
If your budget allows it, don’t feel bad about hiring help to take some of the time pressure off, allowing you to build some downtime into your week. Consider asking a cleaner to come in once a fortnight or having a gardener visit every month. Just a few visits could make a big difference to your stress levels and give you some space to unwind.
Be More Mindful
The concept of mindfulness is everywhere right now, and for good reason! Mindfulness means taking the time to be fully in the moment as often as possible during your day. It’s about slowing down and noticing and fully appreciating the good things in your life.
Mindfulness takes some practice, so start small. Try being mindful for a few minutes when out on a walk. Notice the sensations coming in from your senses: the feel of the fall wind on your skin, the smoky smell in the air, and the sound of the leaves crunching beneath your feet. Relish that moment, resisting your mind’s pull to think about, for example, what you’ll make for dinner when you get home, the tasks waiting on your desk at work, or the chat about homework you need to have with the kids.
Gradually expand your mindfulness practice. Regularly eating mindfully, for example, can help with digestion and lower stress levels. One of the best things about mindfulness is that it makes us aware of the constant stream of thoughts flowing through our minds: this means we can identify any negative, unhelpful thought patterns and work at changing them.
Eat Your Way Calm
And talking of food, did you know that certain foods can help with feelings of well-being? Eating a diet high in anti-inflammatory food can control the body’s cortisol levels, easing stress. This generally means eating unprocessed, whole foods as often as possible.
Beef, chicken, eggs, and fortified cereals are some examples of stress-busting foods. Foodstuffs high in omega-3 are also extremely healthy for your whole body and are known for their cortisol-lowering properties, too. Anchovies, avocados, mackerel, salmon, olive oil, tuna, and walnuts are some of the best food for eating your way to a calmer outlook.
A Few Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
When thinking about ways to mitigate and cope with everyday stresses, it’s important to effect sustainable change. Use the guide above as inspiration and a jumping-off point to make the lifestyle tweaks needed to alleviate the pressure and improve your overall quality of life.
And if you need to relax in a hurry? Try letting a piece of dark chocolate (that’s at least 90% cacao) melt slowly in your mouth: its high magnesium levels will have you feeling calmer quickly. And if there’s a better way to deal with stress than eating chocolate, I don’t know about it.