You're tired, overwhelmed, and overworked. You may struggle to fall asleep or stay focused at school or work. Why do you feel this way? There's one resounding answer: you're stressed out. And you're not alone. Fifty-five percent of Americans report feeling stressed during the day, according to revealing data from Gallup.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to make positive changes and take back some control of your life. While there's no magic pill that will instantly rid you of stress, there are a number of small changes you can make that will help ease the pressure.
Feeling anxious, stressed out, and tired? Grab a pen and paper and write about it. "Journaling is a great tool and has been used as a therapeutic exercise for a long time," Christopher Ryan Jones, PsyD, told POPSUGAR. "Writing about your day and stressful situations you encounter is a great way to unload those burdens and reduce your stress."
Take a Step Back When You Can
When you're feeling worn down, getting some quality time with friends, family, or your partner can help. "I recommend doing an enjoyable activity or going on a weekend getaway," Dr. Jones explained. "Chances are, if you are stressed, they've noticed and it has affected them, too. Taking a small trip gives you all a chance to unwind and rejuvenate."
Leave Work at Work
"Having personal time is really important," Dr. Jones said. "Though we often feel we must hurry and work extra hard to get things accomplished, this can often cause our minds to be cluttered and add extra stress. By learning to 'switch off' from work, you can refocus and declutter, which actually increases creativity and productivity." Not sure where to start? There are easy things you can do - such as not checking email when you're outside of the office - that will make all the difference. Consider the lifestyle changes you could make to enhance your work-life balance.
Find Healthier Ways to Cope
"When we're stressed, we often turn to things that are unhealthy for us," Dr. Jones said. " It could be alcohol, overeating, or toxic relationships. However, while they may feel good temporarily, they eventually cause us even more unneeded stress."Start by identifying what your unhealthy habits are and consider how you can curb them. While quitting something like smoking won't happen overnight, when you create an action plan, you can take meaningful steps toward kicking the habit (and, eventually, replacing it with something healthier, like yoga or meditation).
Look For the Silver Lining
If you tend to overthink things or get caught up in negative thought patterns, your problems might seem bigger than they actually are. "We don't actually solve problems by overthinking. I would suggest taking a negative statement and making it into something positive," Dr. Jones said. For example, if you're passed over for a promotion at work, you might look at it as an opportunity to find an even better job.
Lean On Your Furry Friends
There's a reason emotional support animals are becoming more common, especially on college campuses, Dr. Jones told POPSUGAR - the companionship can help reduce stress and even ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. "There have also been a number of research studies on the benefits of cuddling to reduce stress, so if it works for you, go for it," Dr. Jones said.
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