Stress, mood, and your health
High stress levels can negatively affect your diet and workout.
Adriane Kozlovsky, a clinical dietitian at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center & Hospital, explained that wellness goes beyond having a balanced diet. It also involves other crucial factors like regular physical activity and effective stress reduction.
Your stress level can affect your health, just like eating junk food or staying in bed or on the couch the whole day. If you’re having a stressful day (or week), follow these 10 tips to manage your stress and boost your mood.
1. Get enough sleep
You need seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night. If there are factors that prevent you from getting an adequate amount of sleep, set aside an hour or at least 30 minutes during the day for a refreshing power nap.
2. Exercise regularly
According to the American Heart Association, adults need about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a combination of both.
Meanwhile, children aged six to 17 must have at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day. Experts recommend mostly aerobic exercises for kids.
If your schedule is packed, develop an exercise routine that fits into your spare time. This ensures that you have enough time to get the exercise that you need without sacrificing your other tasks.
Meditation helps relieve stress. It can also increase calmness and improve your overall mood. (Related: Guided imagery paired with physical relaxation techniques can significantly reduce stress.)
If you’re new to meditation, try a simple exercise like the “4,7,8” technique.
Breathing is a simple activity that can help you relieve stress and get rid of nervous energy. The 4,7,8 breathing technique activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which takes you out of fight-or-flight mode. Use this breathing technique to get into a mental state where you’re more focused and creative.
- Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, then hold the breath for seven seconds.
- Exhale out of your mouth for eight seconds.
- Repeat these steps three times.
4. Spend more time outside
Take a break from work and go on a quick walk around the block. If you have more time, spend the weekend jogging a couple of laps at the nearest park or ride your bike along forest trails.
Spending time away from the city and work may help relieve your stress and anxiety.
5. Smile more
Smiling from genuine happiness is ideal, but faking a smile may “trick” the hormones in your brain into giving off feelings of happiness. These hormones also help relieve your stress.
6. Plan a trip
Even if the trip remains a plan in your journal, the planning process will help create positive energy. Planning an exciting trip improves your mindset and outlook.
7. Spend more time with your loved ones
Getting away from work and hanging out with family and friends can help you relax and boost your mood.
8. Help those in need
Even small gestures have feel-good effects that can relieve your stress. Join a blood drive, donate food to charity, or volunteer at a soup kitchen.
9. Practice gratitude
Being thankful may positively affect your psychological well-being. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed at work, take a quick break and think of all the things that you’re grateful for.
10. Move for a shorter work commute
This tip may seem a bit drastic, but cutting down your work commute gives you more time to sleep in and relieves traffic-related stress.
Stay healthy by following a balanced diet and getting enough exercise. Top it off with managing your stress and you’re well on your way to a truly healthy lifestyle.