6 Ways to Kick Stress for Good This Summer

Woman Under StressTake a moment and think about your stress levels. How are you? Perhaps you’re doing great, or maybe you feel taxed and worn out. Maybe you were stressed when the holidays rolled around last year, but now it’s Summer and you’re still threadbare. Stress isn’t just a seasonal thing.

For the first time in ten years, Americans are more stressed than in previous years, according to the American Psychological Association’s annual stress survey. Why? There are many stressors in our lives, but easy access to digital information is probably a big cause. Many of us constantly check email, social accounts, and news. Our great-grandparents didn’t have these technologies and were likely more interested in family and local news than national or global headlines. It’s a different world and our brains haven’t completely adjusted.

Using the wrong coping strategies may also be doing us in. It’s bad, but a lot of us turn to things like overeating and watching TV to relieve tension. The same survey reported that 39 percent of American women and 33 percent of men say they watch TV more than two hours a day to cope with the stress in their lives, making television one of the most significant ways Americans deal with feeling stressed. That’s a lot of screen time! Eating away stress is popular too, with 26 percent of women and 18 percent of men admitting to it.

Instead, look for behaviors you can swap for better strategies so you’re less tempted to return to them.

6 Stress-busters:

  1. Cut Your Screen Time—Long exposure to a computer, smartphone and television screens can interfere with sleep, hurt your eyes, and cause you stress. Americans are spending nearly 11 hours a day staring at a screen – 6 of those with a smartphone or TV – according to a Nielsen Company audience report. To limit your time, resist the urge to check your phone when you have a few minutes to wait and try turning off the iPad and smartphone before it is “lights out”. If you’re ready to make a big change, don’t have a screen of any type in the bedroom.
  2. Get Outside—It’s Summer so take advantage of the additional hours of daylight and enjoy the sunshine and warmth. Mother Nature’s woods, lakes, and trails are great places to explore and de-stress. A short stroll through the park or even around the block can also help.
  3. Healthy EatingWatch Your Nutrition—Some foods make us uncomfortable, don’t digest well or leave out important nutrients. Stress-eating to cope with tension can also leave us eating too much. Many people also skip meals or stop eating when they’re feeling stressed. Registered Dietician Karen Marschel wrote on her blog, “Our thoughts lead to our actions so before we can change our eating habits we need to change our thoughts about our eating habits. Ask yourself these questions and take a minute to really think about your answers: Are you eating to put off doing things you don’t want to do or are you feeding an emotion that you don’t want to face? Have you thought about what you are putting in your body and the effect it has?” Mindful eating and ensuring you have a balanced diet may help ease your stress.
  4. Balance Work/School—Too much of a good thing, whether it’s work or school, can impact our stress levels in real ways. Fit in some breaks whenever you can and find ways to disconnect and recharge when it‘s possible.
  5. Get More Exercise—Exercise has a calming effect on the body and can help you regain feelings of control over your stress. It’s also full of other health benefits. Too busy? Every little bit counts so maybe this will help you. Check out, “It’s a Win-Win: 4 Exercises to Do While Kids Play Outside.”
  6. Relaxing at the LakeTriage Your Coping Mechanisms—How do you cope? Is it healthy? Re-frame the negative areas of your life with positive, affirming beliefs that uplift your self-esteem and recognize your self-worth. “Emotional clutter gets in the way of thinking properly and we spend a lot of time and energy on the small stuff,” said Glacial Ridge Health System’s physician, Dr. Erin Dahlke. She adds, “Make room for what is really important to you. Plan and begin a self-improvement project to start making changes that enhance who you are and bring balance to your life.” A psychologist or counselor can also help you process this and find new methods to bust tension.

Our health care team cares about helping you minimize stress and tension to improve your overall health. Whatever is stressing you, we’re here to help.

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