Let’s face it, your life is full of responsibilities and you probably feel overwhelmed. Add to that, we’re living in such uncertain times, that our mental capacity is literally being tested every day! I know, for me, the struggle has been real as I’ve talked about in my Changes and Control post!
With National Stress Awareness Day being tomorrow, April 16th, I wanted to take a second to talk about stress and mental health.
Truth be told, our mental health is something we all need to have in the best possible shape we can, especially given that it affects so many elements of our lives. Its impact can affect our ability to sleep, our relationships, our mood, our general performance whether at school or work, and the list goes on.
To that point, in 2019, statistics showed that Americans were among the most stressed people in the world! Many expressed feelings of stress, anger, and worry which contributed to the highest levels in a decade registering at 55% compared to 35% globally.
Worldwide, people reported they were going through more negative experiences as well, with all-time highs of instances of physical pain, worry, sadness, stress, and anger.
Given the stats, it really highlights one of the many reasons why caring for our mental health is just as crucial as caring for our physical health. Case in point, when we experience stress, our brain produces hormones that tell our body to prepare to respond to a threat. Serious stress can not only compromise our mental health, but it can also cause physical symptoms like high blood pressure, various heart conditions, headaches, ulcers, and so many other conditions.
Some things that can help you to control your stress:
DISCLAIMER: You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.
How much should we be exercising? It’s recommended that we get 30 minutes of physical activity a day, minimum! Even small steps like going for a walk (with pandemic restrictions you may have to settle for a couple of times around a couch), practicing yoga or dancing can really make a difference in keeping us healthy.
This is especially true since hormones like endorphins and serotonin get released and help our body deal with pain, stress, as well as balance our mood.
Take away? An active body is a healthy body!
Having plenty of fruits and veggies daily, in addition to combining them with lean proteins (fatty fish like salmon, beans like lentils, and complex carbs like whole grains or sweet potatoes) are a few ways to start eating healthier.
Not only does the fiber in a healthy diet keep our digestive and excretory system running more smoothly, color choices of fruits and veggies does some good for your vision and organs by providing us with rich antioxidants that stave off cell degeneration!
GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
I’m super guilty of this one #teamnosleep! But in all seriousness, getting a good night’s sleep should be at the top of all our to-do lists!
Studies show that most of us need a good 7-9 hours of sleep per night in order for our brain and body to relax and regenerate. As we relax we’re much better prepared for life’s stressors.
Without it, you might even find yourself grumpier than usual, anxious, unable to focus, and can actually start to experience more serious health issues.
BUILDING YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
Can you hear me channeling Jerry from Netflix’s Cheer? I’m totally giving you some encouraging “Mat-Talk”! What he does for his teammates is what we need to practice doing for ourselves.
Self-doubt, worry, and negative thoughts can really bog you down. Things like journaling with prompts, uplifting spiritual quotes, vision boards, and positive affirmations can all be great motivation.
So from now on, let’s commit to quieting our inner-critics and be our biggest cheerleaders instead! You👏 Got👏 This!
MAINTAINING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Non-toxic zone please! If your circle doesn’t include people who bring positive energy, encouragement, supportive care, plus and openness to genuinely receive it (yeah, that’s important too) then they’ve got to get relegated to the end zone!
It’s so important to know that regardless of where you are in life’s ups and downs, you’ve got a crew who aren’t finger wavers, or debbie downers. Constructive feedback is one thing, toxic behavior is another.
MEDITATING & FOCUSED BREATHING
I’m sure you’ve read about all the benefits of meditation. You may have even but you thought that a) either don’t have time for it or, b) it’s just not for you. That was me for the longest, and I wish I would have given it a go earlier.
Deep breathing, mindful meditation, (again) yoga, or even a visualization exercise are all ways to relax our minds. Finding a method that works best for you is the key to helping bring your mind’s focus to the present moment, decrease stress, and bring a sense of peaceful calm.
UTILIZING YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK
Similar to having a positive circle it’s equally important to have someone you trust and feel comfortable confiding in. Whether that be friends, family, a therapist, psychologist, doctor, you name it.
Especially if you feel like you need outside help, never be afraid to ask for it.
Without a doubt, stress is a fact of life in today’s society. How we handle and deal with it can tremendously affect our mental health for better or for worse.
One of the most important things is continuing to have conversations like these and end the stigma around mental health being a taboo. Because at the end of the day sometimes it’s okay to not be okay! As long as we’re working towards helping ourselves that’s the best we can ask for!