Stress is something that we’re all sadly familiar with. We’ve been through a lot in the past few years (not even including COVID-19), and anxiety and depression have taken their toll on how we work, how we interact with our family and friends and how we feel about ourselves.  Finding healthy ways to relieve stress reduces both anxiety and depression and our hope is that this blog will provide a few easy steps that anyone can take. Here are some of the best ways to relieve stress:

Physical Activity: The easiest way to relieve stress is having more physical activity in your daily schedule. According to Harvard Health, Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.” A fact to live by is that our bodies have developed ways to naturally decrease depression with various neuro-chemicals. Make sure to utilize what you already have.

Physical activity is great, but also leaving your home and experiencing nature is an incredible stress reliever. Just the thought of feeling a light breeze, warm rays of sunshine, and gazing at the cloud shapes brings relief to the soul. As a goal this year, try to prioritize your physical and mental health by utilizing the beautiful world around you.

Spend Time with Others: A tight, warm hug from a family member can seem to be the remedy for many ailments that we face, and it’s not far from the truth. In our digital world, we’ve underestimated the strength and impact of physical touch and replaced it with social media and instant messaging. Take the time this year and spend time with family, friends and loved ones. Additionally, “others” don’t always have to be human. Our furry friends are a great way to relieve stress and there have been numerous studies to prove that so if you can’t find a family member or friend, hug your pet.

Minimize Screen Time: Have you ever thought about the amount of time you spend on your devices? The average screen time in the U.S. is around seven hours a day, almost a third of the entire day, almost half of the waking day (Think about that number for a second). Most of the time is dedicated to watching videos and playing video games which is definitely not surprising, seeing where our general interests are.

One major way to reduce stress is to reduce the time you spend in front of a screen. Firstly, just to remove yourself from the day-to-day opens yourself up to a different perspective, seeing the world around you is breathtaking at points. Secondly, once you remove yourself from your device, you can appreciate the importance of your local community, and what impacts individuals can make. Spending more time on the people and things around you prevents “doom-scrolling”, or wasting time online.

Mindfulness/Meditation: Along with the advancements in technology, we’ve also advanced the ways in which we interact with our consciousness. We’ve all seen the push towards yoga, meditation, deep breathing (a more Eastern-style of medicine) that emphasizes the power of “mind over body.” This is an incredible alternative to the current world we live in, which is full of unneeded prescriptions and over-indulgence in our day to day lives. Some ways to get into a different mindset would be to:

  • Deep breathing exercises– Deep breathing exercises like abdominal breathing, belly breathing, paced respiration or diaphragmatic breathing, can calm you, seattle your mind, and allow you to think clearly
  • Get better sleep– Getting less higher quality sleep is better than more low quality sleep. When planning your sleep schedule, make sure your body gets as much REM sleep as possible
  • Practice Meditation: Meditation comes in a vast variety of methods that can fit the needs of virtually anyone. The act of meditation is more about self awareness, discipline, and a focus on relaxation. Some examples would be taking walks, yoga, visualization meditation, and much more.
    • For more information on different meditation techniques, click here

Volunteer Your Time: Sometimes being sedentary can lead to increased stress. As we mentioned above, exercise is a great way to combat that.  Another way to better spend your time is volunteerism.

We can never fully get rid of stress.  All we can do is learn to cope in healthy ways, and learn new avenues to reduce its effects in our daily lives.

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources and tools so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills.

The world has a lot of problems to solve, but one that is unprecedented is the mental wellbeing of our youth in this country. It’s plain to see that there is a mental health epidemic among the young people in our country that has been cultivated over many years and will likely take many years to unravel.  But, even with these challenges, there are many positive solutions that will make a better future for all. Lead4Life and other organizations are doing their best to provide the most optimal care for America’s youth.

Why is it Happening?

Mental health cases have been spiking dramatically over the past few years, but the causes are still up for debate. The rise of violence from delinquent youth causes more concern for fixing the root causes (Such as the common practice of required adult supervision for anyone under 18.) The COVID-19 Pandemic is one undeniable reason; A mixture of social distancing and COVID-19 caused major panic, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. According to the CDC, “more than a third (37%) of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.” We’re not alone. Every society around the world saw similar statistics.

One other major reason for the  mental health decline of our youth is the dependence on how most are communicating, which is through social media. Concerned parents and news headlines recently have been showing the downsides to only communicating online. According to Anne Marie Albano from Columbia University, “When an individual is not engaging in the world in a healthy way—interacting with others, managing themselves in challenging situations, whether it’s in classes or speaking up in class, going on interviews, dealing with conflict with peers—and instead increase their online presence, this can exacerbate their feelings of alienation, hopelessness, isolation, anxiety, and depression.”  The problem isn’t social media itself, it’s the effects it has on healthy human development and psyche. Our challenge is to better inform and convince our  young population of the dangers of their reliance on social media as a way to communicate and determine one’s self worth.

Possible Solution?

There are of course many different possible solutions to approach mental wellness and offer support to our youth including the determination and execution of other creative outlets, learning better ways to spend free time, practicing meditation or mentoring.  For the purposes of this blog, let’s briefly talk about the benefits of mentoring. The statistics don’t lie when it comes to how mentoring makes changes for the better, “Young adults with a mentor are 130% more likely to hold leadership positions, 55% less likely than their peers to skip school, and 78% more likely to volunteer regularly.” The impact of mentoring is more than statistically significant, it can start a chain reaction in the minds of our young people to turn them towards a more positive future. Sadly, many communities lack proper role models or mentors, making it difficult for our young population, especially our most underprivileged youth,  to be exposed to this form of help. But, Lead4Life wants to change that with its impactful Mentoring Initiative program.

In our mentoring program, youth participants are met with support and guidance in order to be exposed to resources in the community and positive influences. Clinical mentoring offers individuals the opportunity to meet with a skill-specific mentor. Parent mentoring services provide hands-on support to parents who need additional encouragement and assistance in order to address barriers they are experiencing. Click here to learn more and apply to be a mentor.


Let Lead4Life Help

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources and tools so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills.