Whether you’re dealing with stress from the demands of your job, a traumatic event, or simply the uncertain state of the world, you’re not alone. Around 75 percent of individuals struggle with feelings of stress that jeopardize their mental and physical health. Naturally, some stress is a normal part of being human, but extreme, prolonged stress can take a toll on you and the people in your life.
Stress management can look different for different people. Still, there are specific research-backed methods for reducing tension and anxiety that can be powerful tools in feeling more calm and centered. Try one of these five techniques today.
1. Start a Meditation Practice
Sitting quietly and doing nothing may be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling stressed, but it can have a significant positive impact on your mood. A regular meditation practice, even just a few minutes a day, could help you feel more relaxed and improve your ability to handle stressful situations. Not only that, but meditation can also boost your self-awareness, bolster your physical health, keep you sharp as you age, and more.
2. Pick up an Outdoor Hobby
Being cooped up inside more than normal might be making you feel stressed, but the antidote is to simply get outside. Find a hobby like hiking or gardening, which is a stress-reliever in and of itself, to give yourself more excuses to spend your time in the outdoors. Being in nature and around trees has been shown through research to drive down both blood pressure and stress.
3. Spend Time with Your Pets
One of your biggest supporters in stress reduction may be sitting right next to you as you’re reading this article. Spending time with your animal companion and even just looking at them can trigger the release of oxytocin, which makes you feel better while lowering cortisol and lessening your feelings of stress.
Read More: 8 Ways Your Pets Are Good for Your Health
4. Get Regular Exercise
When you’re thinking about stress reduction, you want to essentially think about hacking your brain to produce the right reactions. Exercise is one way to do this since it releases endorphins, i.e., happy hormones. The best kind of exercise to choose is the one you’ll stick with. If you hate running, try speed-walking or going dancing. If you’re a solo exerciser, weightlifting, yoga, swimming, or hiking can be good choices. Another positive benefit of regular exercise is that you might even sleep better, which brings us to our final point.
5. Prioritize Good Sleep
When you’re running on little sleep, it can feel like nothing is going right. While poor sleep can contribute to your anxieties, it’s unfortunately a side effect of stress as well. To give yourself less to worry about on a daily basis, make a plan and commit to the goal of getting better sleep. Some sleep tips that could help you include reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake, especially right before you’re about to go to sleep, reducing nighttime screentime, and keeping your room on the cool side.
The world is a stressful place. While you can’t control all the external factors that raise your stress levels, you can do a lot to manage your state of mind. Add one of these techniques to your routine, and you may see your mood start to improve while your day-to-day tension melts away.