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.
- Help the local community: Helping others in their time of need is an impactful stress reliever. According to Mayo Clinic, “By spending time in service to others, volunteers report feeling a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect.” Helping others will always result in helping yourself.
- Help through Lead4Life: Aiding your local communities is shown to reduce stress, and increase overall happiness. Lead4Life’s doors are always open to members of the community who wish to donate their time and talent. Volunteer opportunities include hosting a party, event, or dinner for youth participants, as well as mentorship openings. Learn more by clicking this link.
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.