1. Designate no more than 30 minutes per day to looking at the news and checking social media sites.
Read enough of the news to stay informed but not so much that it takes over your day and affects your mood.
A recent study at the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated that modifying your time on social media has measurable effects on mental health.
People in the study who limited their social media use to 30 minutes felt significantly better after a three-week period, reporting reduced depression and loneliness, especially those who came into the study with higher levels of depression.
Interestingly, they also reported less “fear of missing out”, or FOMO, and less anxiety in the end.
2. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week -- running, biking, swimming, using a Stairmaster or elliptical machine.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), exercise
and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem, according to the ADAA.
3. We often exacerbate our stress levels by spending a lot of time on things we have little or no control over.
Sometimes it’s trivial things like the weather or traffic, other times it’s more meaningful like a partner’s poor response to our request.
While we don’t have control over someone else’s thoughts, feelings or behavior, we are in charge of how we react to others’ comments or behavior.
Sometimes that involves being more empathic or more rational in our response. Either way, it’s a far more productive use of our time and energy than simply being mad at someone for not giving us what we want.
4. Avoid using absolute terms like “always” and “never” when describing your current problems.
Arguments with our partners, difficulties with a roommate or issues with a boss at work tend to be temporary but we often distort things by saying “it’s never going to get any better” or “it’s always going to be terrible with him”.
Say to yourself something more rational like “this is just how it is right now.” It’s a useful reminder to not only stay in the present but that things aren’t as bleak or as hopeless as we make them out to be.
5. There is often a strong link between passive behavior and stress.
Just because we can do it all doesn’t mean we have to. If we say “yes” to every request that comes in -- whether it’s from family, friends or co-workers -- it’s a recipe for increased stress because of the overwhelming demands we’ve made on our time.
A form of good self-care is practicing assertive behavior, which often means asking for those things that you want in a polite and respectful but firm manner. Other times it means saying “no” to others, setting firm boundaries (and sticking with them) and delegating tasks to others.