7 Activities for Managing Life’s Daily Stress

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Feeling too busy and stressed to read this article? That’s precisely the reason you should take a breath and have a read.

Take Control of Your Stress

Connectivity and technology are designed to make life more convenient, efficient, and generally easier. However, life in 2023 often seems busier, more complicated, and more stressful than ever. It can be downright overwhelming. That's why it's important to build some stress-management techniques into your regular routine.

Not sure where to start? Here are seven great ideas for activities to relieve stress and regain a sense of calm.

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Unroll and Unwind With Yoga

Unrolling a yoga mat is an excellent opportunity to destress and unwind. This ancient art combines physical poses and stretches with deep breathing to reduce stress and relax the nervous system. It encourages you to focus on deep, calming breaths and purposely move your body, allowing you to concentrate, take greater control, and regain your center.

If you've never practiced yoga, start slowly and remember that it can be difficult at first. However, in the long run, regular practice is one of the most rewarding experiences for both body and spirit.

Set a goal to practice yoga for around 15-30 minutes daily or every other day. The key isn't to practice when you're feeling stressed but to establish a regular routine. Doing so can help reduce overall stress in daily life, making you less likely to have moments when you think, "Wow, I could really use a downward-facing dog pose right now."

Journaling: Get It All Out, Onto the Page

Studies show that writing down your thoughts and emotions — handwriting, not typing — can profoundly impact mental health. The practice allows you to concentrate on your anxieties by untangling your thoughts and releasing them onto the page.

Set aside some time every day for your journaling habit — maybe 15-20 minutes to start. It's best to do your journaling at the same time every day, too. Find a quiet space, set a timer, and start writing down whatever comes to mind. Write about stressors, and record your racing thoughts and any emotions or problems troubling you.  

Destress by Expressing Gratitude and Thanks

According to nurse practitioner Amanda Logan at the Mayo Clinic, the simple act of feeling thankful and expressing gratitude to another person "is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood, and immunity."

This simple sentiment — thanking someone in word or deed and feeling grateful — can alleviate physical pain and decrease the risk of chronic disease. Gratitude can even lessen depression and anxiety. The key is to not only express your gratitude but to feel it.  

Focus Deeply On the Breath

Deep, purposeful breathing is one of the fastest ways to trigger your body's relaxation response. Long, slow breaths deactivate your sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system, signaling your brain to relax. The key is to concentrate fully on each breath. Start by simply breathing deeply and slowly in through your nose, directing air into your abdomen. Count to five, and slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat several times.

Although it's a good habit to set aside time each day to breathe, focused breathing works very well to destress in the moment.

Kickstart Your Heart, Suppress Your Stress

Physical activity is one of the most well-established strategies for turning down the impact of stress and anxiety in your life. Exercise causes the brain to release feel-good endorphins while reducing stress hormones like cortisol. Plus, it forces you to focus on your body rather than racing thoughts.

To get started, choose an activity you enjoy. Any physical activity will have a positive impact on your mood and stress levels. The key is to challenge yourself. If you go walking, don't slouch along the sidewalk like a snail — go at a brisk pace for 10-15 minutes. Do some jumping jacks, run in place, or dance to a few upbeat songs. Try some simple stretching. Yoga counts too!  

Take Up a New Hobby

Losing yourself in a new hobby provides a pleasant distraction from stressful thoughts. As with exercise, choose something you enjoy, and do it purely for enjoyment and relaxation. Allow your creative juices to flow, and you'll find yourself focused intensely on the here and now, with time flowing by without a care. 

Power Down Your Devices

Devices and connectivity provide several conveniences and efficiencies not available to previous generations. However, there's a downside. They also create more responsibilities, demands on our time, deadlines, and stress.

Think about how many times you check a screen during the day and how much total time you spend staring at those screens. You're constantly bombarded with emails, texts, social media, videos, and more. This creates nonstop stimulation in your brain. Even after you turn away from the screen, your brain is still running, making it difficult to focus and relax. Staring at a screen before bedtime also makes it difficult to sleep.  

If the thought of shutting down all your technology is its own stressor, start small. Set aside a block of time a few days a week to go completely off the grid — maybe 10-20 minutes. Shut everything down — TVs, tablets, phones, watches — and give your mind a much-needed break from technological overload.

Speaking of technological overload, J.D. Power's July 2023 APEAL Study found that owner satisfaction with new vehicles decreased largely due to technological overload, especially with regard to infotainment systems.

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When Stress Hits, Hit This List

These health and wellness tips provide a good starting point for reducing daily stress, but you must make destressing a priority. Don’t let tension accumulate until you're too overwhelmed to take action. Set aside time each day to engage in healthy stress management, establish a routine, and stick to a schedule. The result will be a calmer, more relaxed you.

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