Way back in early 2019, could you have imagined that life would be the reality we are all living in 2022? The price of groceries has skyrocketed, the cost of buying a house reached unprecedented highs and people, overall, are just angrier and more stressed out.
The height COVID pandemic might have passed but people are as stressed as they’ve ever been.
The most recent Medscape survey, Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2022: Stress, Anxiety, and Anger, looking at physicians’ health care revealed that since the pandemic, depression, anxiety, and stress have worsened. Unfortunately, according to the survey, physicians report that only 42% of workplaces offer stress or burnout reduction programs.
Life is stressful and it doesn’t seem like the stressors are going away any time soon.
Whether you’re dealing with work pressures or responsibilities at home, sometimes, you just can’t get rid of the source of stress. While stress serves an important physiological function, our bodies are not designed to hold stress indefinitely.
When everything is working as it should, acute stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This keeps us from being eaten by a bear on an otherwise relaxing hike. Once the source of the stress subsides (the hungry bear decides you aren't worth the effort), the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) helps your body return to a more relaxed, physiologically balanced state. If you have chronic stress, the SNS stays activated which is bad news for your physical and mental health.
You probably can't rid of every stressful trigger in your life. For example, you might not be able to significantly decrease your workload right now. However, you can learn to close the loop on your stress cycle.
There are things you can do to help the PNS kick in. You can regulate how your body manages stress. Not only will you be able to experience more subjective relaxation, but your physical and mental health will be better too.
You can regulate how your body manages stress.
When you can, try to get rid of or at least reduce the source of stress. If that isn’t an option, try these 5 things to end your stress cycle.
Exercise Studies have shown that moving your body is an effective way to reduce everyday stress. You don’t need a gym membership to get a good workout. Go for a walk or have a family dance party.
Socialize Leaning into your relationships with supportive family and friends can help you relieve daily stress. Don’t withdraw when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Whether at work or in your personal life, reach out to those safe and supportive people in your life.
Laugh We all feel a bit better after a good laugh. It turns out that there’s a physiological reason for that. Studies have shown that laughter is associated with the release of endorphins that help create a sense of well-being. So, when you feel the world closing in on you, put on your favorite funny show and have a good belly laugh.
Get outside A recent study showed that simply viewing nature can be restorative. Other studies have shown the mental, physical, and emotional benefits of time in nature. Incorporate a daily walk into your day. Bring nature inside too with a plant or nature scenes.
Breathe Several studies have shown the benefits of breathing exercises in stress reduction. One of the biggest benefits of breathing exercises is that you can do them at any time. Box Breathing is a popular and easy-to-do breathing technique.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Now, you have a few easy tools to disrupt the negative impact of stress on your mind and body.