5 Lifestyle Choices to Reduce Your Stress

Dr. Angela Seabright
Gretchen Maurer

| 3 min read

care-free woman in an open field
It’s easy to get caught up in the week with everything that needs to be done. There’s work, school, kids and finding time for yourself, so it’s not surprising if you get stressed out. It can take a lot to go to a yoga class or gardening club or to find time away, and it can seem impossible to find quiet time in many environments.
Here are five easy ways to incorporate stress-lowering tactics into your everyday life.

1. Choose a healthy diet

The food we eat and what we drink have a large effect on mental health and stress levels. Diet and nutrition are a focal point of physical health often, but they also affect mental and behavioral health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet full of both heart-healthy and brain-healthy foods can help to ease stress and anxiety. There are some foods that can help with stress relief specifically, like those high in omega-3s and healthy fiber.
Furthermore, avoiding alcohol use, especially excessive alcohol use, can have a profound effect on mental health. Even regularly consuming low amounts of alcohol can exacerbate stress and anxiety.

2. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is an important part of self-care and overall personal wellness and health. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to high intensity cardio exercise. Even a 20-30 minute brisk walk can have a positive effect on mental health and stress. Fewer than half of Americans get the recommended amount of cardio exercise, according to the CDC. Americans who exercise regularly are lower risks of death and cardiovascular health events, according to the American Heart Association.

3. Improve your sleep 

The link between sleep and stress is strong, and they affect each other. Stress and anxiety can exacerbate existing sleep issues or cause insomnia, and lack of proper sleep is a trigger for stress and anxiety symptoms. There are steps you can take to work toward better sleep, including avoiding alcohol, limiting screen time leading up to bedtime, and eating a balanced and healthy diet.

4. Practice work-life balance

Taking care of yourself and your health also requires taking enough time away from responsibilities work to enjoy social life and hobbies or interests you enjoy. Don’t neglect your own social needs and time off. Finding work-life balance can be especially hard to do as a parent or a caregiver. It can help to learn self-soothing skills like positive self-talk to practice self-care.

5. Try mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness or meditation might seem intimidating if you haven’t tried them, but they are about tuning in to your body, mind, and feelings. Mindfulness is a skill that can help to ebb negative thinking and a bias toward the negative, which can be stressful or exacerbate existing stress. If you find it hard to start, try using a guided meditation practice at first.
Meditation can also be done outdoors, in gardens, or even while walking, with a focus on silence or connection to the world around you.

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