By Barb Anderson, MS, RDN, Kristin M. Nieman, PhD, Anita T. Shaffer, RDN
Healthy habits can reduce the potential negative effects of stress such as increased blood pressure, anxiety, depression, or eating pattern changes, which may be linked to extra pounds or obesity. Directing focus to your mind-body connection will help you reduce your stress level and feel more peaceful. The following tips can help:
- Intentional focus on the present in an accepting and nonjudgmental manner can help improve one’s well-being.
- Keep your focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking may increase errors and decrease productivity and, ultimately, your overall stress level.
- Some meditation calls on you to focus on your breath, which in turn reduces stress levels. Meditation styles are personal so investigate different options. Check out available apps (such as “Calm,” Ten Percent Happier,” or “Headspace”) to help you get started. Scheduling meditation first thing in the morning or right before bed will ensure that you are more successful at building this activity into your daily routine.
- Practice mindful eating to focus on enjoying your food rather than eating in response to stress.
- Avoid information overload by being mindful of your device time.
- If stress interferes with your life on a regular basis, leaving you overwhelmed, remember that seeking help can be the ultimate self-care.
- Exercise lessens stress and increases blood flow — even to our brains.
- Combine movement with the outdoors to get a double-win for managing stress.
- Regular exercise can have positive effects on sleep quality.
- What kind of “movement” should you do? Do what works best for you. Take walks in nature, go for a lunch run, practice yoga, or do some light stretches at your desk.
- Sleep is a necessary human function that recharges our brains and bodies. Sleep improves our mood and ability to manage stress.
- People who get enough sleep report feeling less stress, more energy, and the ability to think more clearly.
- Getting a good night’s sleep can be possible with routine and good sleep hygiene.
Stress isn’t always bad, but when stressors add up, it may negatively impact your health. It’s essential to have healthy stress management techniques in your toolbox. There are many actions to employ — keep implementing those steps that work for you.