We probably don’t have to tell you that Americans are more stressed than ever. For the first time since the American Psychological Association started the Survey of Stress in America in 2007, researchers found a statistically significant increase in stress levels in Americans. This is relative to just five months prior, when their August 2016 survey showed the lowest reported stress level in 10 years. Not surprisingly, the cause of this additional stress is related to the current political climate, with the biggest concerns related to the future of our nation and personal security.
But even though some people claim that stress is actually good for your career, we know that the long-term effects of stress can be scary. In order to stop this trend in its tracks, we’ve asked the experts for their top tips to positively manage stress in our jam-packed lives.
1. Distract yourself. When you feel a really stressful situation coming on, it can help to distract yourself by listening to music, reading, or binging a cool Netflix series, according to Licensed Mental Health Counselor Diane Munoz. “Of course, it doesn’t work forever, and it won’t solve your problems, but it’s a great place to start,” she says.
2. Splurge on a massage and take stretching seriously. “As a licensed massage therapist, I’m seeing a lot more clients coming in with physical signs of stress — headaches, shoulder tension, anxiety, stomach aches, and insomnia,” says Rachel Bieder, owner of Massage Williamburg. In order to combat these physical symptoms, Bieder suggests treating yourself with regular massages. Even if you can’t afford an expensive massage, make sure you’re taking stretching seriously to combat tension in your muscles. Hey, you deserve it, lady!
3. Channel your inner Adele and sing your heart out. While most people probably think of yoga and meditation as key ways to unwind from a stressful day, belting out your favorite tunes into a hairbrush can also do the trick. “Singing out loud is a great stress reliever because you have to breathe deeply to do it,” says founder of StressRX, Dr. Pete Sulack. “It doesn’t matter what your voice sounds like — just belt it out in your car or some other private place to relieve stress.”
4. Get enough Stage Four sleep. Everyone knows that getting enough sleep is important, but when you’re really stressed, you’re way more likely to skimp on your sleep to finish that last assignment. “Not spending adequate time in Stage Four sleep is a physical stressor, which then increases cortisol production, further inhibiting melatonin and sleep the next night,” says Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed, a naturopathic doctor at PKR Health. Turn off your smartphone and hit the hay, even if you’re not finished with your to-do list.
5. Know when you’re the most productive and use it to your advantage. “Whether you are a morning person or an evening person, get to know your peak periods, and address your biggest tasks during this time,” says Clinical Psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly. Not only will you get a ton of things checked off your to-do list, but you’ll feel better about your accomplishments and hopefully be less stressed because of it.
6. Talk to someone IRL. “Yes, I know. This might seem like an obvious one, but in this electronic day and age, we sometimes forget that having real-time verbal and physical connection with others can be a wonderful stress reliever,” says Los Angeles-based Licensed Psychotherapist Gary Brown. Whether it’s a simple convo at the water cooler or a 30-minute gab sesh with your bestie after work, try getting together with someone you trust in person and talk out your stress with them.
Do you have any tips to deal with stress? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)