What Are the Healthiest Ways to Reduce Stress?
Stress is something Americans have struggled with for decades. But 2020 has taken things to an entirely new level. And it's more important than ever that we zoom in and explore some of the specific ways we can tackle the issue in a healthy manner.
Try These 4 Healthy Stress-Busting Tactics
The American Psychological Association (APA) has tracked stress for decades. And according to their research, stress levels during this COVID-19 pandemic are exceptionally high.
"The average reported stress level for U.S. adults related to the coronavirus pandemic is 5.9," APA reports. "When asked to rate their stress level in general, the average reported stress for U.S. adults is 5.4. This is significantly higher than the average stress level reported in the 2019 Annual Stress in America survey, which was 4.9, and and marks the first significant increase in average reported stress since the survey began in 2007."
For parents of children under the age of 19, that stress marker is closer to 6.7. Half of all parents say their stress level is between an 8 and 10 on a 10-point scale.
That's the troubling news. The good news, however, is that there are ways to cut through stress and anxiety regardless of external circumstances. The key is to focus on the healthy options - such as these:
Get Daily Exercise
Topping the list of stress-busting activities is exercise. Daily fitness is not only good for your muscles, joints, and cardiovascular health, but it's also highly beneficial for your mental health.
Exercise, particularly of the cardio variety, releases a flood of feel-good hormones into your brain. These chemicals, known as endorphins, interact with the different receptors in your brain to reduce feelings of pain, stress, and anxiety. They ultimately trigger positive feelings in the body - feelings that are similar to those that patients experience when given doses of morphine.
So if you're going to do anything, make daily exercise a priority. Just 30 to 60 minutes of walking or jogging can do the trick.
Cut Back on Commitments
As Americans, we often pride ourselves in filling up our calendars with obligations and responsibilities. We overcommit and operate under the assumption that everything will work out. Unfortunately, it often doesn't. This leads to stress, fatigue, and the feeling of being overburdened.
As simple as it sounds, the easiest way to deal with this approach is by cutting back on non-essential commitments. Free up space in your schedule - including nights and weekends - to do nothing. This downtime allows you to recharge and recalibrate.
Delegate Where Possible
Sometimes you can't get out of a commitment. Whether it's a professional obligation or a personal one, there are situations where you're in charge. But even in these scenarios, there are ways to reduce stress - including through delegation.
Let's say, for example, that you're a real estate investor with half a dozen rental properties in your portfolio. Trying to manage all of these properties on your own is asking for failure. Between clogged toilets and late rent payments, you're always going to have an issue on your hands. But it's not like you can just ignore the responsibility. You can, however, delegate these tasks by hiring a property manager. As a result, you shift your focus away from the acute issues and keep your eyes on the big picture.
You are what you eat. If you're eating foods that cause inflammation, you're going to feel the effects. If you eat fresh foods that are free from chemicals and additives, you're going to feel much better. It's as simple as that.
"Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body," says Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph.D. "A healthy diet builds a solid, more enduring foundation for your body by reducing oxidation and inflammation and by helping to reduce weight gain."
Not sure where to cut back? Try keeping a food journal for a week. This will help you identify the foods that are holding you back from feeling your best. From there, you can remove and replace things with healthier alternatives.
Live Your Best Life
It's impossible to live a happy, healthy, and productive life if you're weighed down by chronic stress. So try using the tips outlined in this article to regain solid footing and enjoy a life of contentment. It won't always be easy, but there's hope for those who prioritize emotional stability over fear and unrest.