According to the American Psychological Association, a staggering one out of three Americans is living with extreme stress and nearly half have had an increase in stress in the past five years.
If you’re one of the near-majority of Americans that is struggling with stress, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone, nor are you trapped. However, before you even consider more drastic solutions, such as seeking professional help or using medication (which are appropriate in the right context), consider trying these small-yet-simple ways to increase stability — and by extension reduce stress — in your daily life.
1. Be Present and Gain Perspective
If you want to provide greater stability in your life, one of the first steps is to stop dwelling on the past or fretting about the future. Now, it’s important to learn lessons from past mistakes and to plan and prepare for the future — but when you obsess over them, that’s when things get unhealthy.
Instead, strive to live more of your life in the present. Reign in those worrisome thoughts and try to gain a healthy perspective. Be observant of your surroundings and cultivate an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. Living in the now is an excellent way to avoid taking on the stress of tomorrow unnecessarily.
2. Tend to the Basics
Along with tending to your mental state, it’s important to consider your physical body as well.
While stress is a normal part of life, chronic or extreme amounts of stress can have serious effects on your body, such as a weakening your immune system or leading to high blood pressure, insomnia, and headaches. In order to help curb these effects, start by putting a greater emphasis on three of the most important aspects of your existence:
- Eating: Make sure you’re following a healthy diet that is tailored for your particular body, needs, income, and desires.
- Exercise: Getting regular exercise is a classic way to unleash endorphins and combat stress.
- Sleep: Do your best to establish sleep routines that provide at least seven hours a night of quality, undisturbed sleep.
Learning to exercise appropriate self-care in these basic areas is a powerful way to avoid exhaustion and the stress that comes with it.
3. Establish Healthy Finances
Healthy finances are another excellent way to ease your mental state. This doesn’t mean you have to pay off all of your debt or become a millionaire, either.
It simply consists of adopting wise financial habits, such as making payments on time, creating an emergency fund, or avoiding keeping a balance on a credit card.
4. Plan and Prepare
One of the best ways to let go of worrying about the future is to prepare for it. While you can’t predict every eventuality, there are a few ways that you can easily equip yourself with an arsenal of tools to help you cope with possible future challenges.
For example, if you’re a senior, you may have simply accepted a basic version of Medicare without considering the details of your plan. If you’re concerned about covering medical costs, rather than worrying about possible future expenses, actually take the time to study what concerns your particular healthcare addresses. This will empower you and help mentally prepare you for previously unexpected costs while avoiding the need to stress over things that are already covered.
Another scenario could be if you have a dog or cat and you’re worried that they’re going to need an expensive surgery that you won’t be able to afford at some point. Rather than spending valuable time in the present being unhappy about the possibility, start to set money aside for a possible medical procedure now. You could also consider getting pet insurance before there’s a pre-existing condition like diabetes or heart disease.
Whatever the specific scenario, if you get organized, set goals, and create reasonable expectations for the future, it can go a long way in stabilizing your thoughts in the present.
5. Lean on Lists
Lists are a stressed mind’s best friend. They can be physical or digital in nature. They can be written vertically, laid out horizontally, or even presented as a mind map.
Regardless of the specifics, lists can be an excellent way to restore order and stability to your life. They can help you prioritize what’s important, temporarily ignore non-urgent items, and even completely eliminate tasks with insignificant value.
6. Look for Coping Mechanisms
Finally, if you’re perpetually feeling stressed out, make a conscious effort to discover coping mechanisms. These will vary from one person to the next, but a few suggestions include:
- Looking for relaxing activities, such as reading a book or going for a walk, that can help you feel calm and present.
- Practising muscle relaxing or deep breathing techniques.
- Identifying cognitive distortions that are warping your perspective or aggravating your thoughts.
If you can find ways to cope, you’ll be able to regain mastery over yourself, even if you’re stressed.
Out with the Stress and in with the Stable
Being present, providing basic self-care, preparing for the future, adopting healthy financial habits, leaning on lists, and finding coping mechanisms are all good ways to increase stability in your life. They help you address anxiety, pain, and other chronic issues that stress can cause by collectively helping you maintain your mental, physical, and emotional health.
All that is required is for you to acknowledge your stress, review the list above, and then actively begin to apply the concepts in your day-to-day life. The change won’t be instant, but chances are, it won’t take long before you come to appreciate the change.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer that lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings. Find her on Twitter.