Stress affects most people in one form or another. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, for example, in a typical year, 69% of adults see health care as a significant source of stress (Stress in AmericaTM 2019). And in the last year, more Americans are experiencing higher levels of stress due to the pandemic (Stress in America 2020). Here are some suggestions and tips to keep in mind.
Get those zzz’s
You know it (get enough sleep!), but you still don’t do it. Why? When you’re working from home or helping kids with e-learning, it’s easy to justify skipping something that feels less important — often sleep. But the more stressed you feel, the more you should strive to get enough sleep. Studies show that sleep not only gives your body much-needed rest but is essential in a number of ways. While you sleep, your body is very active, rebuilding, replenishing, and restoring systems; moving information from short-term memory to long-term memory; and regulating hormones.
- Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night for maximum results and rejuvenation.
Minimize, don’t maximize
People often overextend and try to do it all. Sometimes you might feel pressure to do more or do it “better.”
- Try to minimize and focus on what matters. Your worth or significance doesn’t come from how much you do.
- Particularly during the pandemic, you might need to adjust your expectations and be kinder to yourself.
When you can do what’s best for you and stay within your current capacity, it can help you enjoy activities more and reduce stress.
After minimizing your schedule and adjusting expectations, it can be helpful to set intentions for what you want this specific season of your life to look like. A season could be an actual season, such as winter or spring, or be a span of time marked by events such as the days leading up to your child’s graduation.
- Your intention may be one word, such as “family” or “slow,” or be a list of things you’re going to say “yes” to and things you will say “no” to in that season.
Reach out to others
Research has found that loneliness can raise stress levels (“Social isolation: It could kill you,” American Psychological Association, May 2019). When stressed, people might be tempted to turn inward — but that can make you even more stressed. Instead, it can be helpful to reach out to others, so you have someone to talk to and who can help you take your mind off of your stressors, even if it’s over Zoom or the phone instead of in person.
- Some ideas on finding community: join a run club at your local running store (and run masked and socially distanced), Zoom with family, or call up a good friend.
Participate in joyful movement
Some people use exercise to compensate for what they consider “bad” eating. Instead, try to see exercise as a joyful way to move your body and reap its benefits, including a boost of endorphins, increased blood flow, improved blood glucose control, improved mental outlook, and so much more.
- Joyful movement means engaging in exercise that isn’t punishment, but rather a way to move your body that takes the focus off burning calories and helps you feel good in your body.
- Ideas include going on a nature walk, doing yoga, snowshoeing, skiing, or jogging for 30 minutes while listening to a podcast or upbeat music — be sure to watch out for icy spots and consider wearing ice traction devices.
Get your bases covered
Here are the top three supplements our wellness team recommends to support your whole-body health. Ask your health care provider for details on implementing these supplements.
- Fish Oil | Supports brain/mood, heart health, eye health, and more.
- Vitamin D | Keeps bones strong; protects your immune system, nervous system, and brain; helps regulate insulin; and more. Ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels to discover if you’re deficient and determine how much you should take.
- Probiotics | Research has found that many critical functions are affected by the brain/gut connection, which can be supported through making sure your stomach flora are balanced and (at least mostly) beneficial (“Mind-altering with the gut: Modulation of the gut-brain axis with probiotics,” Journal of Microbiology, March 2018). Our wellness department has several probiotic options.
Consider products that may help reduce stress
Our wellness department also offers products that may help with stress:
- Ashwagandha | We carry several options, such as Oregon’s Wild Harvest and Stress Guard, which contains ashwagandha, B vitamins, theanine, and other herbs. Homemade golden milk with ashwagandha is a serene winter beverage.
- Bath salts | Try Inesscents lavender bath salts for warming, hydrating, and relaxing.
- Wishgarden Herbs Liquid Bliss | Insta-calm support from damiana, passionflower and cacao—take as directed.
- Essential oils | Try a targeted blend or make and mix your own.
Sip and Savor
- Enjoy these hot tea elixir recipes as a way to slow down and be present!
This post was updated on Jan. 26, 2021.