Experiencing stress can be, well, stressful. And unfortunately, it’s probably affecting you in persistent ways, as according to the American Psychiatric Association, we’re more stressed and anxious than ever before. Specifically, 39 percent surveyed reported feeling more anxious than they were the year previously, while another 39 percent felt the same amount of stress as the year before.
“We live in a world where we are constantly ‘on’: on emails, online, doing more, saying more, and being more,” says Poppy Jamie, founder of Happy Not Perfect. “This world of overload can really wear us down, so looking after your mind is a priority.”
Clearly, our stress levels aren’t going to disappear on their own, but how you handle it can change how you feel on a daily basis. Here are five tips to feel less stressed immediately and over time.
Open the Right Apps
Staring at your phone mindlessly is not helping, in fact, an increase of cell phone usage has been associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as increased levels of stress. But an app that is focused on your mental health can be highly beneficial. Happy Not Perfect is specifically created to help users manage stress. The Happiness Workout within the app is a “science-backed, seven-step process, which allows the user to process emotion and take you from the state of stress and panic to a cooler, calmer self,” says Jamie. HNP can also walk you through breathing techniques during a particularly stressful moment, which tells your mind to calm down.
Meditation apps, like Calm or Headspace, can be helpful for both immediate and long-term stress reduction too.
You have too many things on your plate to prioritize sleep, right? Stress and sleep are not mutually exclusive though: An increase in stress can affect your sleeping patterns, and a lack of sleep can increase your stress. Undeniably, one of the most helpful fights against stress is better sleep. If you’re having trouble shutting off your anxiety when sleeping, try CBD capsules, which have a slower release period than tinctures and can relax overactive minds. Also, setting a work cutoff time, when you stop working every day, may beneficially aid in sleep-related stress. And maintaining a consistent bedtime can also greatly help ease get you back into a positive routine and thusly a reduction of unnecessary stress.
Get On Your Feet
The other basic that may fall to the wayside in times of excessive stress is exercise. Whether it be running, walking, or yoga, working out can be a powerful stress reliever. It can improve your sleep, mood, and feel-good endorphins. If you seem to lack the time in your schedule to work out, try doing it first thing in the morning, as Jamie does, calling it a “nonnegotiable” daily requirement. “Before I even brush my teeth, I put my trainers on and walk for 20 mins,” she says.
Essential oils can be wonderfully beneficial for a reduction in stress. In fact, lavender has been shown to calm the nervous system, which lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. Scents like jasmine, sage, and lemon can also have wonderful stress-reducing effects.
Change Your Mindset
Altering the way you envision your day-to-day stress triggers can sound wildly unhelpful for someone needing more of a quick fix, but over the long run, it’s the most beneficial tip.
“The belief is: Stress and exhaustion inform me that I am busy, which means I am productive, and that productivity is required to be successful,” says Josh Rosebrook, founder of his eponymous skin and haircare brand. Yet this level of daily stress can not only make you less productive at work, but it can also be a massive sacrifice on our health over time, from heart disease to diabetes to accelerated skin aging.
With all these potentially harmful effects in mind, allow it to inspire your change in mindset and train of thought. “It’s about getting off the ‘stress train’—it only gains momentum, so pivoting to something else is what saves you,” says Rosebrook. Whether that is talking to a therapist consistently, talking directly with your supervisor to identify and work through triggers, or even looking at things optimistically, which has been shown to produce lower levels of stress hormones.
Stress isn’t doing you, your body, or your work production any favors. It’s worth looking into solutions that can help you not only stress less but also feel better over time. You got this.