Stress is a growing problem in America. According to a 2017 study from the American Psychological Association, more than 60 percent of Americans are stressed out over money, work, violence and crime, the future of our nation and the current political climate. While we all know stress is unhealthy, this article from Healthline shares nine ways it could be even more dangerous than you think, including making it difficult to control your emotions.
To combat stress, you need to spend more time on self-care. While some people think of that as selfish, Psychology Today writes that self-care is simply a way to “balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors.” In other words, self-care is your ticket out of stress.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to reduce stress that you might be overlooking.
Basic But Overlooked Types Of Self-Care
Self-care does not usually mean a day at the spa or an indulgent vacation. In fact, we should practice self-care every day. However, we may be missing some simple steps that can quickly help to reduce our stress levels:
- Know What You’re Up Against
The first step in combating stress – and creating a plan to beat it – is identifying what’s making you anxious. Next time you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, determine the cause of what’s triggering you. The very act of being mindful will not only help you pinpoint your sources of stress, but will also help you overcome it.
- Getting Enough Sleep
According to research from the National Sleep Foundation, every adult needs at least seven hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep is not just stressful, but it’s also downright dangerous. Sleep.org writes, “A shortage of sleep is to blame for some 100,000 traffic accidents, 76,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths a year.” If you’re not getting enough sleep, here are 12 tips that can help.
- Taking Time To Relax
Many of you might be thinking, “I relax,” but if you can’t name a daily relaxing habit you practice, you’re probably missing out. And do you engage in any habits that seem relaxing but aren’t? For example, if you read at night from a tablet or smartphone before bed, blue light from your device can disrupt relaxation. Here are more techniques from Very Well Mind that don’t actually relax you – and what you can do instead.
- Learning To Say ‘No’
Guilt and a misguided sense of duty can lead many of us into the no-win situation of saying “yes” to everyone. When we overcommit, we cheat those who rely on us because we are too exhausted to properly attend to their needs and our commitments. Prioritize your time and relationships so that they do not overwhelm you. Read Michael Hyatt’s post on how to say “no” without the guilt.
- Other Ways To Reduce Stress
What reduces your stress? It may be something unexpected. For example, redundant tasks, such as knitting or folding socks, can have a soothing, relaxing effect and can knock out stress.
Self-Care For Those In Recovery
If you are in recovery from substance abuse, self-care is a critical part of improving your mental health. You may need additional tools to help you through. Here are some ideas that you should add to your self-care rituals:
- Develop A Hobby
Boredom is dangerous for people in recovery, since it can lead to relapse. To combat it, find a hobby that engages you. Make sure it’s something you’re excited to try. This might be a good time to pursue a dream hobby, like horseback riding or playing an instrument.
- Practice Meditation
Deep breathing and focused meditation can help you on your recovery journey as well as reduce stress. Breathing connects our waking and sleeping patterns and can regulate blood pressure, heart rate, circulation and more. Try these deep breathing practices from Psych Central.
- Try Yoga
This is a helpful fitness practice that combines relaxation, stretching, meditation, and low-impact exercises. It can benefit mind, body, and spirit, making it an ideal exercise for almost anyone. Read this post from Yoga Journal on how yoga specifically benefits people in recovery.
Self-care is a critical part of maintaining good physical and mental health and reducing stress. Take steps today to integrate it into your everyday life.