This article was originally published in The Mighty Mite: The Wellness Hub.
Between the work grind, managing finances, balancing relationships and the fact your alternator jumped ship on the Turnpike during this morning’s commute, it’s really, really hard to stay chill in this stressful world.
Stress is not surprisingly really bad for us. Health.com estimated 70% of doctor visits and 80% of serious illnesses may be linked to stress. The tricky thing about stress is that the side effects are rarely seen but underneath the negative energy is wrecking havoc on internal and emotional health. Yuck.
Stress wraps around not only your mental health, but physical, too! Your immune system can be compromised clearing the way for diseases like cancer and heart disease, your ability to make good decisions is inhibited, and you’re more susceptible to develop an unhealthy relationship with stress and food.
While we all deserve a mopey ice cream sundae and day in bed snuggled up with Netflix, it’s essential not to let this stress induced behavior become your reality. When stress is effecting your everyday life, it’s time to chill out.
That’s obviously easier said than done. Raise your hand if you’ve vowed to stress less then almost immediately failed the second something wasn’t going your way in life? Yes, my hand is raised way high in the air right now.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve vowed not to let judge-y people wig me out only to spiral into a rant to my boyfriend the second they get under my skin or said I wouldn’t let work ‘invade my home space’ only to feverishly tap away at a “this can’t wait until the morning” reply email as I’m running on the treadmill. Like I said, it’s not easy.
Consciously being on the ball to rid stress from your life can ironically be stressful. Just take a deep breathe, start small and take it one habit at a time.
The best way to expel those negative thoughts is, duh, exercise! Physical activity releases those feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins which can give your attitude a reboot on even the cloudiest days.
For the most stressed of us (I’d fit into this group rather nicely), try yoga or meditation. These exercises help your mind and body find a calm that anxieties tend to shake up. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’d prefer something to get your frustration out on (I can also fit into this category), I recommend boxing or kick boxing. These workouts will leave you physically exhausted and mentally clear (and probably more toned too!).
Sleep often seems like the most underrated medicine. It’s so simple (and free), yet it’s nearly always overlooked. Sit down with your schedule and make at least one more hour of sleep a night a priority.
Schedule Time to Worry
This advice takes notes from “happy specialist” Gretchen Rubin (which, if you haven’t read her book “Better Than Before”, I highly recommend it). Pick a time in your day to worry. Personally, it’s helpful to write these stresses down. It helps my brain form actionable plans to rid my life of these stresses (or note if I’m completely making up these worries).
Buy an Adult Coloring Book
Three words: adult coloring book. It will change your life. In fact, I was coloring before even writing this article.
Besides offering an in to the simplicity of your childhood, coloring gives your mind one thing to focus on. It will calm you and you’ll come out with some awesome art to give Mom. Three or 23, she has to still put it on the fridge, right?
When worries surface, force yourself to think, “will this matter in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?” Your answer is probably not. This makes your overreacting brain bring reality back to the issue you’re stressing over.
Do Things that Make You Happy
It’s important that even when life isn’t going ‘swimmingly’ we still do things we enjoy. Take your dog for a walk, play with your seven month old nephew or grab drinks after a long week with your best friend. All these interactions can help ease stresses.
Emotional Resilience Training
While a bit more time consuming, “emotional resilience training” is being adopted as a means to train our emotional brain and make us more resistant to setbacks. In other words, if your boss snapped at you today, you brush it off instead of falling into a “I’m going to get fired” pit of despair.