The American Psychological Association released its annual Stress in America survey today. There are lots of ways to look at the results but the long and short of it is that we Americans are stressed most of the time. We’re worried about money, work, and how to support our families. We’re suffering from chronic diseases that could be at least in part due to our high stress levels, and most certainly contribute to those high levels of stress.
The study finds that most of us know what we should be doing to manage our stress better, but often fall short in our goals to actually make those good behaviors happen. Even though I spend a good part of each day helping people manage the stress and worries in their lives, I have yet to become an expert myself. I can stress out, freak out, and lose it with the best of them. But in the spirit of better mental health, I am going to spend the next 7 days offering up some easy, free, and completely do-able stress management tips – for all of us to try.
Breathe. There is a fantastic physician down the street from my office who tells all her patients to take 5 deep breaths 2 times per day. I love this tip. It is so easy, but amazingly effective. Set your watch, computer, or phone to go off a couple of times throughout the day, stop what you are doing and take 5 deep breaths. When I teach kids to do this I tell them to pretend they are blowing on a dandelion that has gone to seed – use all your power and see how far you can make those seeds go!