You’ve decided you want to stress less this year – that’s fantastic! Stress takes a huge toll on us emotionally, mentally, and physically. Prioritizing your ability to cope with challenging situations, and setting yourself up for success when they–inevitably–arise, can help you welcome more ease, happiness, and health into your life.
Stress comes in many forms and isn’t always easy to subdue. It finds us at work, in our relationships, and in our self-journeys. It can hitch its wagon to sleepless nights and lifestyle choices, or to situations beyond our control. Luckily there are many paths you can explore to get a handle on stress this year.
Let’s Talk Stress, Baby!
Before we get into tips to stress less in 2022, let’s briefly review the basics of stress.
There are two types of stress: acute and chronic. Acute happens when we’re faced with a crisis, like when we’re pulled over for a speeding ticket. During moments like these, our brains release adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones that increase heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate.
It takes about 90 minutes for your body to return to a normal, balanced state after an acutely stressful experience. In short doses, acute stress typically doesn’t have a prolonged effect on our health and wellness. Chronic stress is a different story.
Unlike acute stress, chronic stress occurs for long periods of time. It can have adverse effects on our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
The True Cost of Stress
Chronic stress is reported to effect :
- Concentrating & Working Memory
- Pain tolerance
- Social behavior or social withdrawal
- Emotional states & responses
- Substance Use
When left unchecked, chronic stress is also associated with :
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Heart disease
- Type II Diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Anxiety and mood disorders
Although you may do your best to ignore it, stress can have a big impact on your well-being if left unchecked. If you want to live more balanced, healthy, and happy lives, finding ways to cope is essential.
Tips To Help You Stress Less in 2022!
There are a few ways you can target challenging situations in your life this year. First, identify them.
According to the American Psychological Association, the most reported stressors include :
- The future of the nation
- The economy
- Family responsibilities
- Personal health and health issues that impact family
The reality is, anything can be a source of stress. So when it comes to dealing with it in your life, there are two paths to consider:
- Expanding your capacity to handle stress
- Dealing with specific stressors in your life
Ready to explore tips to help you stress less in 2022? Let’s dive in!
Improve Your Capacity to Handle Stress
Our ability to handle life’s stress is highly related to our mental, emotional, and physical health. So if you’re looking to better manage stress, an essential step is prioritizing your health.
1. Hit your water intake goals all day, every day.
Many of us don’t realize how important water is to our health and happiness. When we become dehydrated, our energy levels, mood, concentration, and physical capabilities can be affected. Not sure you’re drinking enough water every day? Set reminders on your phone or connect drinking water to another activity. For example, take five sips of water every time you get up from your seat at work.
2. Prioritize quality sleep.
Sleep is essential in our capacity to deal with and relieve stress. Poor quality sleep takes almost as much of a toll on our bodies as chronic stress. For this reason, it’s vital you aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble with sleep, the best thing you can do is develop a solid sleep-wake routine.
3. Get your body moving in a way that makes you feel amazing.
Working out isn’t just good for strengthening our bodies – it also impacts brain health. The Center for Disease Control reports that consistent physical activity keeps our learning, thinking, and judgment skills sharp. Regular exercise can also improve sleep and may reduce the risk of anxiety and depression in later years . So whether it’s dancing, taking walks, or yoga – find a movement routine you like and will stick with.
4. Schedule daily meditation & self-care time.
A study published in 2019 revealed that participants who meditated each day for 13-minutes over an 8 week period were better able to focus, and had a lower anxiety response to stress tests. Self-care should be a part of your daily routine so find small ways to honor yourself each day. Meditate, journal, read, listen to music, use essential oils, have a dance party, or call up a friend to chat. Schedule time to do what makes you feel happy and free.
5. Cultivate optimism as a way of life.
It’s easy to get stuck in negative thinking. Instead of ruminating on the negative, practice gratitude. As negative thoughts pop up, challenge yourself to explore other ways of viewing your situation. Try to consider perspectives that light a path forward and inspire hope, like how you can learn from this moment.
Tips to Deal with Specific Stressors in Your Life.
Try practicing mindfulness to expand your patience and make it easier to keep your cool in triggering situations.
If you struggle with self-love and self-worth, loving-kindness meditation may help. If you struggle with tough personalities at work, cultivating patience could enhance your resilience in dealing with those tricky moments. Are you feeling burnt out and overwhelmed from non-stop busyness? Embracing non-striving could bring more peace and intention to your life.
Above all else, treat yourself with patience and kindness. We’re all works in progress and learning how to stress less is no easy task. Embrace each day as it comes, take a deep breath, and know you can handle anything life throws your way.
- Learn more about chronic stress with Yale Medicine HERE >>
- Explore the effects of stress on the body with the American Psychological Association HERE >>
- Read the American Psychological Association’s stress and decision-making during the pandemic HERE >>
- Discover the benefits of physical activity with the Center for Disease Control HERE >>