National Stress Awareness Day is upon us and it’s a good reminder to take time for ourselves, to breathe, and to practice mindfulness so we can better relieve stress in our everyday lives.
Stress is unfortunately something that we all feel and have felt throughout all portions of life. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people have felt so stressed in the last year that they felt they were unable to cope. And while small amounts of stress can motivate us to work harder, complete our tasks and meet our goals, too much stress can cause negative effects like changes to your mood, your body, your relationships, and your overall quality of life.
Countless studies have shown that being outside in nature can have a tremendous impact on your mental health. There is a strong connection between time spent outdoors and reduced negative emotions. One of those emotions and feelings is stress. Research Gate, which connects science to the rest of the world, conducted a study and found that “stress is relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity. Time in green spaces significantly reduces your cortisol, which is a stress hormone.” They also found that nature boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production which promotes happiness. Basically- if you are feeling stressed or down, try spending 10-15 minutes a day outside when possible and see how your mood is changed.
Brain dumps are essentially exactly what it sounds like. It’s a time when you just let everything you’re thinking - words, feelings, emotions - out onto paper. When you get your thoughts on paper you can increase your self-awareness and understand what’s causing the current feelings you’re having, which in turn can decrease stress. It’s a great exercise to boost focus and stay organized which can help in managing your stress levels.
If you feel stressed due to outside distractions taking your focus away try our free extension. For instance, if you know you should be focusing on a specific task or assignment, yet you drift to your phone more than once to check social media, or text your friends back, or watch a video on YouTube, you could be adding to your overall stress levels. You know that you shouldn’t be checking these things but we’re human, and these platforms can often feel extremely tempting to check. With BlockSite in your corner, you can select the day and hour of when you’d like these distractions blocked from your access.
Creativity has been known to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. A creative act can help focus the mind and produce calming effects on the brain and body. And the creative act you choose doesn’t necessarily have to be something artistic, sometimes the word ‘creative’ can be intimidating. You can listen to your favorite music, write, draw or doodle, garden, sew, etc.
When we share our feelings, our concerns, and our stressors with people we trust and feel comfortable with we can actually relieve the stress we feel because we’re ‘lightening the load’ so to say. Speaking out loud with someone can help you organize your thoughts and identify your feelings and they might be able to offer additional support. A study done by Carnegie Mellon University found that those who use their family and friends as a stress buffer to discuss their problems with have stronger, more positive coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with stress.
Remember to take it easy not only on National Stress Awareness Day but in general. You owe it to yourself. Try the above stress management tips and see what feels most right and more importantly, what works for you.