On any given day, I’m probably way more stressed out than I need to be. I constantly worry, even about small things I know I shouldn’t stress over. Do I have enough gas in my car to get to work? Will I have enough time to go to the gym? What art packages are we going to use for the next print edition? Did I remember to turn off the oven before I left? And then I stress about how I’m not dealing with my stress appropriately and it becomes this never-ending worry wheel.
I know I’m not the only one. It’s not breaking news that Americans are stressed out. More than one-third of American adults said stress affects their overall happiness a great deal or a lot, according to an American Psychological Association study that was released in February. The two things that stress us out the most? Money and work.
The same study found that teens are reporting stress levels that are higher than what they believe is healthy and they deal with that stress by engaging in sedentary activities, like playing video games or going online. The stress and their methods of coping with it are negatively impacting teen’s health behaviors, especially when it comes to sleep, exercise and weight.
What’s really concerning (and, honestly, kind of stresses me out) is that the 13- to 17-year-olds are learning these bad habits from adults. Because it’s hard for them to find examples of healthy stress management, teens learn from and imitate the role models in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.
We adults need to learn how to manage our stress so we can improve our own health, but also so we can teach the skills to our kids, younger family members, mentees, etc. When I’m stressed, it’s easy to fall into bad habits — eating candy, skipping the gym, watching hours of TV — especially when it seems like I’m the only person who will be negatively affected by it. It’s a lot harder to default to bad behaviors when I think about how it could influence the people I love.
I wanted to put together a list of stress relievers (I’m sure this isn’t shocking to anyone who knows me) so I asked friends on Facebook to tell me what they do to relax. Here’s what they came up with.
- Run or participate in other pulse-raising activities
- Do yoga to calm the mind and body
- Take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth
- Get a hug from a loved one
- Set small, attainable goals for stressful projects
- Find an enjoyable activity, like playing baseball or gardening, and do it regularly
- Enjoy nature, whether it’s through walking, smelling some flowers or simply sitting in the sun
- Hang out with friends (and maybe responsibly enjoying a few drinks)
- Establish a consistent sleep schedule that includes the right amount of sleep for your body
Funnily enough, putting together this list was a bit of a de-stresser.
How do you manage stress? Let me know so I can keep adding to the list.