With the responsibilities of modern life ever increasing, the stress level of the average American continues to climb. Financial debt, job security, family responsibilities, and more can continue to contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress. Fortunately, there are many simple ways of relieving stress that are easy to fit into a busy lifestyle.
Just being outside can help lower stress levels. In fact, studies have shown that even just looking at nature can reduce stress. The simple act of changing your desktop background to beautiful scenery or taking a five minute stroll after work can help you feel more calm and peaceful. If you have more time, try getting in the habit of going for a walk or a run outdoors. Exercise has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression.
Listen to Music
Listening to some calm or upbeat music is another easy way to lower your anxiety. If you're short on time, try putting on some music while you get ready in the morning, on the way to work, or as you cook dinner. In addition to being calming, listening to Mozart has actually been shown to increase people's IQ scores.
One strategy that takes no time at all is to increase your fluid intake. Staying hydrated has been shown to reduce stress. This is because when you are dehydrated, your body increases its cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
You can also relieve some anxiety by writing down your worries. Take a few minutes each night to process how the day went, reflect on what you accomplished, and contemplate the upcoming day. Although venting can be cathartic, don't just write down everything that went wrong. Try reminding yourself of the positives of the previous day and what you have to look forward to in the future. It has been shown that grateful people tend to have a higher quality of life, so remember to be thankful.
Many times, people feel stressed because they are faced with never-ending to do lists. All of us could constantly be doing something more, but that doesn't mean we should. Instead, try writing down all of the tasks that need to get done. Then prioritize them by high priority, medium priority, and low priority. Even if your whole list isn't done, you can have a sense of peace knowing your high priority items were accomplished. Once you have that checklist, make sure you stick to one task at a time, since studies have shown that multitasking makes people less productive.
Meditation is another way that a little extra time can relieve a lot of unnecessary stress. In addition to being calming, meditation has actually been shown to lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Meditation doesn't have to be long and complicated, either. One way to meditate is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply taking a few minutes to pay attention to what you are feeling, seeing, sensing, and thinking. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation. Simply sit comfortably in a chair, and take turns tensing and relaxing different muscles in your body. Even just taking a few minutes to pause and breath deeply can help you slow down.
The most important part of reducing your anxiety is to know what works for you. Choose something you will look forward to and that fits well into the rest of your schedule. Try just one strategy, and give it some time before you add something else.