Stress causes 90 percent of illnesses and diseases and is connected to heart disease, cardiovascular conditions, and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, 55 percent of Americans feel stressed throughout the day, which implies more than half of Americans are prone to contracting one of these diseases due to the stress in their lives.
If you fall in the category of the stressed-out percentage, there’s a way for you to reduce stress and its negative effects on your life. It begins with recognizing stress as a problem, making the conscious decision to do something different when stressful events occur and converting these strategies into habits.
Let’s walk through five mental health habits you can apply to your life to achieve serenity today. These include checking your labs, using positive affirmations, applying focused breathing techniques, meditating, and making time for you.
1. Check labs
When life feels more overwhelming than normal, it might be a combination of stress and side effects that occur when your body is deficient in vitamins, iron, etc. Surprisingly, 94.3 percent of Americans aren’t receiving the correct amount of vitamin D, and when you don’t have the right amount, it can actually lead to symptoms similar to depression. Vitamin D is just one of the vitamins our bodies need to thrive.
Once you get your labs checked and ensure there are no other issues, you can focus more on other habits that will reduce stress in your life. You can also take a multivitamin and see if your symptoms change. Make it a habit today to regularly have your labs checked so you can decrease stress, find serenity, and live a longer, happier life.
2. Positive affirmations
Another habit to reduce stress and find serenity in your life is to start the day with positive affirmations. Affirmations can activate the brain’s system associated with reward and help rebuild your self-confidence. They can also help you confront negative thoughts. The following is a list of affirmations you could use when feeling stressed:
- I can do hard things.
- I am capable and strong enough to meet this challenge.
- People around me want me to succeed.
- Good things are drawn to me.
- I am happy, regardless of what happens at work.
- I can find a solution to this problem.
- My mind is focused and can tackle today’s tasks.
Whenever you face a negative thought or stressful situation, cancel thoughts or mitigate the stress through positive affirmations that you create on your own or with the help of apps. Daily affirmations will help you overcome the stress of life and help your mind find peace.
Taking deep breaths helps you achieve a state of calm due to the oxygen that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system in your brain. In other words, when you feel stressed, a great habit to decrease stress is to take deep breaths.
The best technique is to take six straw breaths, where you intake from your nose and slowly let your breath out; it can help you make better decisions under stress because you are calmer—plus, it only takes two minutes. Begin applying this breathing technique whenever you are overwhelmed or stressed so your mind and body are better equipped to handle the stress of everyday life.
Eighty-four percent of people find meditation alleviates stress and anxiety from their lives, which makes meditation a great habit for you to apply in your life. You can choose to sacrifice time you might normally spend monitoring social media or watching Netflix and instead take five to 30 minutes to meditate.
Mediating involves the following steps:
- Find a comfortable position, like lying down or sitting on a meditation pillow.
- Listen to meditation music (or a guided meditation if you are just starting to learn how to meditate).
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your breathing.
- Mentally focus on different parts of your body and relax each part until your whole body is relaxed.
- Direct your mind away from unwanted thoughts and go back to paying attention to your breath and body.
Though it might be hard at first, meditation can be a great habit to take the stress out of your life and help you see improvement in your mental and physical health.
5. Make Time for You
In order for you to relieve stress from your life, it’s essential you give yourself time to destress. Plan time in your day for self-care and to focus on your mental well-being. Consider revisiting an old hobby or looking into a new one. Color in an adult coloring book or go on a hike. Try putting together a puzzle, which is actually known to help reduce stress as it puts people into a meditative state. Take this time to do breathing exercises, meditate, say positive affirmations, or write in your journal, venting out all your emotions onto the screen or paper. The possibilities are endless, but as long as you choose something that helps you destress and take the time to do it, you’ll find the stress in your life will become more manageable.
These five healthy habits have the potential to reduce stress and improve your physical and mental health; however, you have to make a conscious decision to change for yourself and then remember and implement these new habits when stress strikes. To help you remember, write one of your favorite habits onto a sticky note and tape it to your computer screen, or set a timer with one of these habits as the caption. The best way to start applying these habits is to do them every day. With repetition over and over for 66 days, newly formed habits often become automatic. Start today to apply these habits to your life to decrease your stress and improve your mental and physical health.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.