With layoffs, employee burnout, pressure to return to the office, and pandemic setbacks, it is difficult to comprehend the level of stress we face today.
In the HBO documentary, One Nation Under Stress, neurosurgeon and medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks with experts, affected individuals, and family members to shed light on the chronic levels of stress impacting mortality rates in the U.S. Stress can play a role in negatively impacting the mind and body including heart problems, skin conditions, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and more.
W5ers got together for another Theme of the Month meeting last month to discuss a few key techniques under the topic of STRESS AND HEALTH MANAGEMENT:
Schedule Your Downtime
Picture this: you’ve finally reached the weekend and have some free time to sit back and relax… but you also have this feeling of guilt that you could be doing something more productive. It’s important to remember to get to our peak efficiency, rest and recovery are essential.
Here’s a few tips for making relaxation a part of your regular routine:
- Set calendar reminders – If a color-coded calendar with audible reminders helps you stay on track during the week, use the same strategy with downtime. Schedule in set times to do activities that make you feel your best―a walk, call a friend, get a massage. Think of it as an investment in your health and wellbeing.
- Take a tech break – Another simple strategy is unplugging from your devices. In Pico Iyer’s TED talk, The Art of Stillness, he emphasizes the increasing need to bring stillness into an age of constant movement and connectedness. For one hour a day, take a break from your screen. Don’t believe your smartphone apps have enslaved you? Start tracking your screen time and number of pickups and you might change your mind.
- Attend a wellness retreat – When all else fails, find time to escape. Rather than an action-packed vacation, seek refuge at a wellness retreat with activities focusing on body movement, healthy nutrition, time in nature, and structured leisure time. Check out The Art of Living Retreat Center or Om Sanctuary tucked among beautiful views of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Find What Works For You
Alright, so you’ve blocked off a 30-minute time slot in your day for downtime, but now you realize your resting state is bombarded with racing thoughts. To distract yourself, you turn to cleaning your kitchen, binging TV, or online shopping. Over time this busyness can be exhausting and it’s important to find strategies for stillness:
- Identify the right type of rest – In the TEDxAtlanta talk, The real reason why we are tired and what to do about it, Saundra Dalton-Smith highlights the need to focus on finding the right type of rest from the different energy we use throughout our day (i.e., mental, spiritual, emotional, social, sensory, creative, physical). She notes rest is much more than sleep and does not have to take hours―keeping a notepad to write down thoughts, listening to music, saying no to things you don’t feel up to, spending time in nature, etc.
- Move into meditation – For many, sitting still in silence can feel like a chore. One way to find a meditation practice is to incorporate movement through yoga. A research-backed strategy for reducing stress and providing peace of mind, yoga postures prepare the body to meditate for long periods of time.
- Exercising to relax – Meditation might not be for everyone, and some note they must physically exhaust themselves to cultivate relaxation. This may include shoveling wheelbarrows of mulch, lifting weights, going for a run, or playing with kids. Along with physical benefits, exercise provides confidence and resilience despite daily challenges.
- Fidget discreetly – One surprising way to fine-tune your focus through movement is fidget toys. If the fidget spinner craze of 2017 wasn’t your thing, there are plenty new options today, from tangles to putty to cubes. While most research is still underway for determining the effectiveness of fidget tools in adults, one study has shown evidence of self-regulation towards achieving calm, focus, and creativity.
For more of W5’s Theme of the Month topics:
We believe great research starts with asking questions and creating connections to understand different viewpoints and life experiences. Everyone experiences different stressors at an individual level and it’s important to take time to assess what makes you feel good.
What are some ways you manage your physical and mental well-being? Share your strategies with us in the comments below!