HOW TO ESCAPE STRESS WHEREVER YOU ARE
HOW TO GET A QUICK MENTAL HEALTH BOOST
Stress and anxiety affect millions of Americans, and it can be difficult to get through the day when uncomfortable feelings begin to take over. They can affect your productivity at work, your relationships, and your self-confidence; they can even lead to depression and substance abuse. It’s important to learn small ways to face that stress head-on and reduce it no matter where you are, because having effective coping mechanisms handy will allow you to get through even the most challenging times. You can use your new skills to immediately start feeling better, and to prevent the emergence of chronic mental health problems.
Though it may seem easier said than done, there are some simple ways you can battle stress and get a quick mental health boost. Think about what makes you feel happy and relaxed — in a healthy way — and figure out a way to turn it into something you can do on your lunch break or even while just sitting at your desk. Because work is one of the single biggest contributors to stress, there are simple things you can do to ensure that you can get through the day without feeling overwhelmed.
Here are some of the best ways to get started:
Bring a book
If you’re a reader, bring a book with you everywhere you go. Being able to escape into another world — especially if you can do it on your lunch break in the middle of a stressful day — can help you take a time-out and get away for a little while. Many people use an e-reader, which is a convenient way to keep several diverse types of books on hand. Don’t, however, rely on your smartphone as a distraction, as this can lead to additional stress. Simply scrolling through your newsfeed could even make things more stressful.
Take a trip to the park
If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where nature is abundant, take a trip to a nearby park or public garden. Whether it’s just a quiet green space or an enormous state park complete with hiking trails, getting out into nature will allow you to focus on breathing and clear your mind. In fact, recent studies have shown that getting away from work — especially if your job requires intense concentration or is very repetitive — can have a marked and positive impact on your wellbeing, including physical and emotional health.
Play with an animal
If you don’t have a pet, consider going to the local animal shelter and volunteering to help with the residents’ needs. Spending time with certain animals has been shown to improve self-esteem and lower blood pressure, and is often a method employed by caregivers of individuals with mood disorders and mental impairments because it allows them to be nurturing and empathetic.
If you have been diagnosed with anxiety by a doctor and are looking for alternative methods of coping, consider a service dog. These animals provide comfort and love to individuals who need it the most; and service dogs are allowed in places that pets are not.
Give back to the community
Sometimes, being able to give back allows us to see that our own lives aren’t as stressful as we once thought. Putting things into perspective — and helping someone else out in the process — can be a wonderful way to push the stress and anxiety away and focus on the good things in your life.
You might volunteer to serve food at a nearby shelter, donate items to a local center for women and children, or chose to spend your time participating in a walkathon. You can also ask local elementary schools if they have a “backpack program,” which puts together new backpacks full of school supplies and healthy snacks for children whose parents can’t afford those items.
Stress can cause us to behave in ways we never thought we were capable of; it can lead to shouting matches with the kids, or to more than a few drinks after dinner. If you feel you’re having trouble getting things under control, reach out for help. You’re not alone, and there are ways you can make a positive change.
BEHAVIORAL WELLNESS & RECOVERY