Constant social media exposure can increase your stress levels by making you feel inferior due to comparing yourself with others, and pressured to “succeed”. But hey, your life won’t end if you don’t check on your Instagram feed for a few days. If someone wants to contact you and can’t reach you on FaceBook? They’ll call. Social media is kind of like smoking…it’s addictive, it wastes time and it really doesn’t add anything to your life except heart-straining stress.
Remove your social media apps from your phone and give your mind a break from all of that digital noise. The more you reduce your social media exposure, the less you crave it and the more present you become in your “real life”. And hey, you might just start to appreciate the simple things in life a little more…and what’s better for stress levels than simply smelling the roses and being grateful for where you are (without a filter or a bunch of “likes”)?
1. Assess your social and professional schedule…and make some culls
So, there’s this little word which is very handy for reducing stress. It’s called “NO”.
Trying to keep everyone happy by saying “yes” to everything will just lead to a burnt out, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed ball of stress! Do what you can to give yourself a break and politely decline social invitations unless you truly want to go.
If you can, try to negotiate better work hours and workload. It’s better to do less and do it meaningfully than trying to crowbar everything and everyone’s needs into your life. Your friends and family will love that you’re taking care of yourself!
2. Spend time with loved ones and fluffy family members
We don’t spend a lot of quality time with each other these days, do we? Well, perhaps you do, but you’re one of the lucky ones.
Sometimes sitting around with old friends, chatting about life, laughing at ourselves and just being free, silly and comfortable can melt away stress. Call a friend. Video call with young nieces or nephews. Visit a sibling or old friend who knows you through and through. If you have a dog, take him or her for a walk or throw a ball. Or curl up and give them a cuddle. It’s a proven fact that spending time with pets can reduce stress hormones and increase “happy” hormones.
3. Walk away, stretch, breathe and slow down
This tip is for specific moments when stress rises and threatens to “tip you over”. Think stressful work moments, deadlines, kids fighting, opening three bills at once…
Sometimes, the best thing to do when you’re feeling suddenly and intensely stressed out is to take a moment, walk away and spend a few minutes alone. Give yourself a moment to stretch and unlock those tense muscles. Be aware of your breathing and turn those shallow inhalations into deep, slow breaths.
Put distance between yourself and the root of your stress and take a moment to put things into perspective. A few minutes can be the difference between a rash decision and a calm, considered one. Those few minutes can release pent-up stress and change the course of your day, month and ultimately, your life.
By learning how to deal with sudden and specific stressful moments, you will learn how to deal with all kinds of stress.
4. Nourish yourself properly
During times of stress it can be very tempting to do two things: eat lots of junk food high in sugars and saturated fats, or completely forget to eat at all. It’s important that you support your nervous system and your energy levels by eating nutrient-dense foods which will both nourish and satisfy you. Eat lots of fresh fruits, veggies, oily fish, nuts, seeds, legumes and fermented foods. These foods will support your gut (where stress can fester!) as well as giving you the energy to get through the day with a clear head.
5. Music and dancing
Sometimes taking it back to basics is the best way to reduce stress. And one of the best ways is to throw on some loud music and just move. No matter your physical ability level, move as best you can and just let go. It might feel silly…if so? Laugh! If you have kids, throw an impromptu dance party in the lounge! Single? Get your crew together, enjoy a meal, a chat and a dance. If you’re not up for socializing, get to a Zumba or dance-based exercise class and just let go. It reminds us that life is full of joy, no matter what’s going on, and that we really don’t need to take things so seriously. Plus…the endorphins are helpful too.
Always remember that your health is the number one priority in your life, and stress can really put your health in danger. Stress ramps up the aging process and threatens your longevity, so don’t let it! Take care of yourself by exercising, eating nourishing foods, spending time with loved ones, seeking professional therapy, taking time out from social media and saying “no” when you need to. Less stress equals a longer, happier, more youthful life. So, get some sleep, relax and find joy in the little things!