Life is always stressful. But we’re feeling it a lot more this year. We’ve had countless obstacles to “normal life” bombard us. But, if this is the “new normal,” we have to figure out a way to live with it.
And that means finding ways to manage that stress. These 7 mental health tips will give you an excellent foundation to reduce or relieve your stress levels.
Get a good night’s sleep
Everyone knows getting good, quality sleep is an essential component of overall health. Yet the problem of inadequate rest persists for many adults.
To improve your own sleep quality, wind down your body, and mind at least 30 minutes before bed. Do something relaxing – that doesn’t involve the stimulating blue light of device screens – and avoid energizing or heavy foods too close to bedtime, such as coffee or foods high in sugar or fat content.
One great practice to calm your stress is to meditate. Meditation and mindfulness involve sitting quietly, breathing deeply, and either focusing your mind on one thought or clearing it of any thoughts at all. It helps you become more mindful as you bring your mind to bask in the present moment without distraction.
It’s well known that working out can do wonders for your physical health. It’s also instrumental in managing stress levels. Exercise lowers the stress hormone cortisol while increasing mood-boosting endorphins.
The best part is, it doesn’t matter much what activity you choose, as long as it keeps you moving for at least 30 minutes several days a week. You could try running, walking, cycling, yoga, hiking, weight lifting, swimming, sports games – the list goes on! The important thing is to choose something you enjoy, so you’ll stay motivated and consistent.
Write it out
Keeping a journal can give you a safe place to tell all your experiences and emotions without worrying about what another person might think. This can really help relieve stress by allowing you to express your frustrations fully.
Alternative forms of journaling may be constructive, too. If you’re the creative type, try your hand at creative writing. Or keep a gratitude journal in which you list 1-3 things you’re thankful for each day (gratitude is wonderful for improving mood, as well).
Manage your finances
Money can be a huge burden – especially right now with the state of the economy. It’s now more important than ever to master the skill of budgeting. Keep a consistent track of your total income and expenses to get a clear picture of your finances. This way, you’ll know if you have room to save more or need to cut back on spending and/or bring in additional income.
In some ways, the pandemic has helped make financial management more convenient. This is mostly due to the fact that the advancement of financial tech has sped up (out of necessity). Because of this, it makes it easier for you to track and take care of your money remotely.
Go through your belongings and get rid of things you don’t use or don’t need. Find a specific place for every item that’s left, and get in the habit of always putting things back where they belong. Clearing out the clutter will help your mind feel calmer and sharper.
Getting organized doesn’t just apply to physical possessions – it also applies to how you manage your time. This has been an even bigger struggle this year, as many of us have had to figure out how to effectively work from home with kids around. We’ve also had to adapt to working with our professional teams remotely. Plan out each day and prioritize your to-do list to strike a work/life balance that’s as satisfactory as possible.
Invest in yourself
Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of our lives, that we forget to ever take time for ourselves. Find time for self-care or your favorite hobbies.
Perhaps there’s a skill you’ve wanted to learn or certification or other education you’ve wanted to obtain. As busy adults, we often put these goals on the back burner. Assess your current responsibilities, and see if you can make the time to tackle one of these ambitions right now. And if you need financial help to go back to school, try applying for easy scholarships, like these from Bold and WiseGeek.
These mental health tips may take a bit of extra time or effort, but they’re worth it. YOU are well worth the investment to find ways to reduce your stress. It’s not going away anytime soon, but these coping mechanisms will help you keep moving forward.