6 stress-busting techniques to help you regain your balance

Feeling stressed? You are not alone. One survey found that 84 percent of Americans experience at least one stress-related emotion—but the culture of stress isn’t just a problem in the United States. In countries like Costa Rica, the Philippines and Venezuela, more than half of the population report experiencing “a lot” of stress, making them among the most stressed countries in the world.

And as many of us know, COVID-19 has increased stress levels worldwide, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting a 25 percent increase in the global prevalence of anxiety, depression and stress.

No matter where you live, your health and well-being depends on making sure to keep your stress levels in check. These six research-backed strategies can help—and so can Fitbit.

Prioritize sleep. Stress can interfere with sleep. When your body is stressed, it pumps out stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol, which raise your heart rate and core temperature, making it harder to fall asleep. On the other hand, lack of sleep can make you more vulnerable to stress.

“Our brains sometimes want us to go down this unproductive rabbit hole, but chances are you’re not going to solve a big problem at one in the morning,” says Angela Ficken, LICSW, a Boston-based psychotherapist. “You need something boring to occupy your mind” so you can fall asleep – and stay asleep. Try mentally cataloging all the blue shirts in your closet or listening to storytime podcasts to help you fall asleep. Find other techniques here.

Creating a sleep sanctuary is also important. establishing a bedtime routine; Turn down the thermostat, install blackout shades to keep the room dark, turn on a white noise machine, and use your Fitbit to track your sleep. Read more about the relationship between sleep and stress here.

You can also try Fitbit’s advanced sleep tools, like the new Personalized Sleep Profile with Premium, which goes beyond nightly sleep tracking to analyze your monthly sleep habits and trends so you can better understand your sleep health and improve it. can work

meditation. This is oft-quoted advice for dealing with stress because it works. Studies show that practicing mindfulness meditation can reduce chronic stress levels by up to 25 percent after six months.

Alfie Breland-Noble, Ph.D., MHSc, psychologist and founder of the AAKOMA Project, an organization supporting the mental health needs of BIPOC youth, calls deep breathing and mindfulness meditation “easy, portable and feasible.”

If the idea of ​​a traditional mindfulness meditation seems overwhelming, Breland-Noble suggests a simple exercise: Identify something you can see, hear, taste, touch or smell that you’re grateful for. “The focus it takes to list each of these things is often enough to take our mind off of what’s pressing and in the moment,” she says.

There’s no need to take the conventional route when creating your mindfulness practice—it’s important to find something that works for you. Try turning a hike or walk into a running meditation or turn to a furry friend Looking for more unexpected ways to find mindfulness? Discover them here.

Set boundaries. Sometimes it’s news headlines about the state of the world that cause stress, and other times, it’s your to-do list. When it comes to the latter, Ficken recommends setting boundaries and not saying things that will cause additional stress.

“We all have personal limits,” Ficken says. “It’s okay not to say things that will cause more stress.”

Ficken uses some go-to boundary statements such as, “Thank you so much for asking; I’m not able to do that right now,” or “I appreciate the invitation Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me.” Practice saying “no” to the little things so you’ll feel more confident establishing big boundaries. Learn more about setting and maintaining healthy boundaries here.

Sweet break. Try not to be tempted to hide under the blankets and watch crime dramas when you’re feeling stressed. Even one session of exercise makes you less reactive to stress.

You don’t need to run a 5K or train for a triathlon to experience the benefits of exercise on stress. Ficken notes that all physical activity, from walking, swimming and yoga — and yes, triathlons — can have stress-busting benefits. “Making a conscious effort to take care of your body will have a direct impact on stress,” she says. Try engaging in a little friendly competition with the Fitbit community by participating in challenges with friends or attending group fitness classes to find accountability in your journey.

Log off. Your devices are great for messaging friends, playing word games, catching up on the news, posting vacation photos, and watching crime dramas, but it’s possible to spend too much time on your screen.

If watching cat videos for a few minutes helps restore your sense of calm, go for it, Ficken says. But be careful about minimizing online activities that cause your blood pressure to rise. Disabling notifications, deleting social media apps, and setting timers to remind you to log off are all tricks that can help you cut down on screen time.

Regardless of what you’re looking at on your screen, Ficken recommends avoiding scrolling before bed whenever possible

Screen time can make it hard to fall asleep, reduce the quality of your sleep, and leave you feeling tired the next morning.

Ask for help. The stress can be overwhelming. Instead of going it alone, make an appointment with a healthcare professional or call 988, the new dialing code, to connect with mental health professionals. “It’s really important to normalize asking for help,” says Breland-Noble.

People of color and people with marginalized identities, including LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities face unique stressors related to racial trauma, homophobia, transphobia, and ability-based discrimination. Breland-Noble believes it’s essential to acknowledge these stressors and seek help when needed.

For anyone experiencing stress, she advises, “Start by identifying a trusted person to talk to and check in with them… Once we get to a place where we can admit there’s something wrong that needs to be addressed.” needs to be done and we feel ready to address it. , we’re better prepared to find a mental health professional.”

Learn more about how Fitbit can help you manage your stress.

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