How to Handle Stress: Nine Easy Ways

woman biting pencil out of frustration in front of laptop

Outsmart stress in the New Year

Many Americans experience high levels of stress after the holiday season comes to an end, particularly during the month of January. Financial stress may be higher due to the costs of recent gift-giving, additional groceries for guests, special meals, or travel expenses from visiting friends and relatives. Travel itself can be stressful, even if it is affordable, due to flight delays or lost luggage. Don’t forget about the pressure that comes with maintaining New Year’s resolutions.

Difficult family dynamics tend to be magnified during this time, which can cause depression and anxiety. For many workers, the next paid holiday isn’t until May, which adds to the bleakness of returning to work after the joyous holiday season. On top of it all, tax season is fast approaching and those who are expecting to owe have that looming bill on their minds. Even those expecting a refund this year still have the daunting task of determining how to best use the extra funds. Regardless of a person’s family or financial situation, almost everyone feels some level of stress in the new year. Today we will discuss potential steps to help reduce all of this additional stress, so we can lower our overall mental and physical health risks as the year progresses. Here is a list of our top 9 ways to outsmart stress this year: 

1. Relax any way you can.

Take as many breaks as you can, meditate, and unplug from technology for small periods of time.

2. Maintain your normal sleep schedule

Aim for getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you have difficulty sleeping, try using a weighted blanket or taking a melatonin or valerian root supplement. Please consult your doctor to see what supplements are right for you

3. Try to exercise regularly.

At least 20 minutes a day is optimal, but even 10-20 minutes 3 times a week can have significant health benefits.

4. Get some sun and fresh air

Go for a walk outside to clear your head and re-set. If you are unable to spend much time outdoors, consider a Vitamin D supplement or even a light therapy lamp to reduce the risk of seasonal affective disorder. Want to go for a longer walk? Review our list of free things to do in Texas and California.

5. Eat as healthy as possible and try not to skip meals

Unless your doctor or trainer has recommended a routine of intermittent fasting, eat 3 balanced, healthy meals per day. Maybe make a goal of adding one healthy food to your diet each week. You are bound to find a few new things you like and can incorporate into your diet long-term! If cooking 3 times a day sounds too difficult, consider doing meal prep to make the process easier.

6. Look for joy in everyday things and be grateful for the positive things in your life

Fixating on what you don’t have leads to stressful dissatisfaction with your life. Make a move toward seeing the bright side of things and being a more positive person, overall.

7. Learn to adapt

Being afraid or unaccepting of change in the modern world can be a losing proposition. Adapt and go with the flow, particularly when things don’t go as planned. Rigidly holding on to outdated practices or trying to enforce your own schedule on others will only cause you stress and discontent. Try to embrace spontaneity and changes!

8. Clean up and remove clutter

Try organizing your home or work space and you’ll often notice that you feel a sense of calm when you finish. If you can free yourself of clutter, a more peaceful life awaits! You could try incorporating small aspects of minimalism into your life to make the process easier.

9. Organize your mind

Writing in all forms can reduce stress and anxiety, so journaling or making lists for a few minutes a day or a few times a week can really help you sort out your schedule and your feelings. You may even want to combine writing and being more grateful by listing things you are thankful for or positive things that have happened to you recently. To learn more about the benefits of journaling, check out USA Today’s article on diary therapy.

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