A recent national poll conducted by NPR and researchers at Harvard University found that 1 in 4 Americans deal with a “great amount of stress in their everyday lives.” And half of all adults say they experienced a major stressful event in the past year. That works out to be more than 115 million people. We’d argue that that’s just the tip of the iceberg as the study didn’t examine Americans whom experience intermittent stress and anxiety.
The stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to dealing with this silent disease. Stress increases the risk of so many health issues including heart disease, obesity, depression, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, asthma and another recent study out of both Harvard and Stanford found health issues from job stress alone can cause more deaths than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza.
Yeah, so while you think a beer at the end of a long day may help offset the stress, or simply taking the weekend to cross off life’s ongoing “To-Do” list will help before Monday morning, these things are not actually curing the issue—they’re only masking it. In our tech-driven; always ON; constant bombardment; go go go and GO again lifestyles you must implement a daily practice that prioritizes your mind and body.
A FEW TIPS TO HELP:
START THE DAY WITH STILLNESS
Skip the snooze button and take 10 minutes to practice guided meditation with Headspace (available on the iTunes store). Meditation is a unique opportunity to wake with ease, create time for yourself and set your pace and mindset for the remainder of the day. The app can also be used for ‘emergency situations’ and has a menu of meditations for specific scenarios.
TAKE A TIME OUT
65% of Americans don’t leave their desk for lunch. That means less sunlight, which means less Vitamin D and less exercise. Don’t be one of these people. Even if you’ve packed your lunch, go outside or to a different (quiet) spot in your office and eat slowly and peacefully. Take. A. Break. It’s proven that you’ll return more productive and ready to take on your tasks.
ACCEPT THAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING
Put your stress in perspective—identify exactly what it is being caused by and write the stressors down. Look at it for 5 minutes and repeat this affirmation “I’m relaxing and letting go. I can’t control the outcome but I can do what’s right and my best in the meantime.” After that, tear the sheet up and toss it in the trash. Repeat: “I’m relaxing and letting go. I can’t control the outcome but I can do what’s right and my best in the meantime.”
LIMIT ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE
Hold your horses. We’re DEFINITELY not telling you to skip the morning coffee or the occasional soda, just cut back a bit. Then cut back even more over time. Studies show that the more caffeine you consume the more stress you’re likely to feel. Same holds true for alcohol. Instead, begin to incorporate a little aromatherapy into your life. It’s easy and holds incredible benefits. For example;
Need a bit of Energy / Invigoration: Orange, Rosemary, Lemon & Peppermint Oils.
Need instant Stress Relief: Jasmine, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage.
Keep these oils at your desk, in your purse, in the car. Simply take in several deep breaths and inhale their properties or dab a bit on your wrists. All of these oils can be purchased on Amazon.com.
TAKE A QUIET DAY
55% of Americans are apparently happy to forgo their PTO in favor of saving money, impressing the boss and equally feeling as if they’re burdening others by taking time for themselves. Those that do use some (well-deserved) PTO are staying connected and still answering emails. This is an issue. If you’re one of the many Americans in this situation and have no desire to travel (or save this time for pending life circumstances) take a “QUIET DAY.”
What’s a “QUIET DAY”? Well, it’s just a simple way to say take a day for you. Do what makes you happy. Turn on the Out-Of-Office Reply, catch up on your favorites shows, read a book, have a long exercise session, go out with a friend, play outside with your kids, do something…anything…that’s completely out of your everyday norm. Try not to think about the next day, or the day after that and simply appreciate the 24 hours you have to spend on YOU.
GIVE THIS SONG A QUICK LISTEN
Neuroscience says listening to this song can reduce stress and anxiety by up to 65%. The group that created “Weightless,” did so with sound therapists for this exact purpose. Its harmonies, rhythms and bass lines help slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Listen.
As our lives become busier, jobs more demanding and with the Holidays approaching, begin implementing one (or all) of the tips above. Your overall health and well-being are dependent upon lowering your stress levels.
Have a peaceful, productive and great week.