Maybe it’s exam time. Or perhaps you’re getting ready for that next big interview. You feel stressed or anxious. While some stress or anxiety is completely normal, chronic stress has detrimental effects on your body and mind. So, let’s move into 2020 with new strategies to combat prolonged stress and anxiety. 

Here are 20 small things that you can do to lower your stress levels this coming year.

Talk With a Therapist: About 5.3 million Canadians sought out mental health care help in 2018. In fact, therapy is becoming the new norm. Plus, it doesn’t create more drama in your life. You can vent to a total stranger who will provide solutions and support. Test out the waters and find a therapist that works for you.


Drink a Protein Smoothie: Researchers theorize that protein may cause increased insulin production. In turn, this helps regulate blood glucose levels. And when your blood sugar levels are balanced, you face fewer mood swings, meaning less stress.


Try Out a Weighted Blanket: A weighted blanket is a form of deep touch therapy. One study showed deep touch pressure to alleviate anxiety. Could it work for you?


Dive Into the World of Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent fasting involves eating in a set amount of time, followed by fasting for a set amount of time. Usually, individuals follow the 16:8 ratio. They fast for 16 hours and eat for the other 8, often between 12 to 8 pm. Various research indicates that intermittent fasting helps regulate blood sugar levels, increases stress resistance, and reduces inflammation throughout the body.


Keep It Dark When Sleeping: Turn those lights out. Ensure you get some quality sleep by finding a dark and quiet place to do so. Darkness produces melatonin, which makes you tired and helps you sleep. Adequate sleep reduces stress.


Get a Jellyfish or Lava Lamp: Tranquil and calm scenes have a positive impact on your brain. Consider purchasing a jellyfish, lava lamp, or Himalayan salt lamp to promote peace and calm in your home space.


Give a Little: Research shows giving to others reduces your stress levels and helps you live longer. Start giving more — your mental health will benefit.


Meditate, Meditate, Meditate! From studies to first-hand stories, there is so much backing this one up. And while it’s on a lot of ‘stress-less’ lists, a reminder never hurts. If you haven’t started meditating, now is your chance. Keep in mind that you don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor to meditation — you can even engage in moving meditation. 


Read More: No, not a digital book. Put that phone or tablet away. Read a real and tangible paperback. Surprisingly, just 6 minutes a day can reduce your stress levels by 68% according to a study from the University of Sussex.


Go Extreme With Temperatures: Have you ever tried infrared saunas, cryotherapy, cold showers, or ice baths? Dipping your toes (and entire body) into extreme temperatures calms the vagus nerve. During times of high stress, your vagus nerve becomes overstimulated leading to various health problems. Chill it out with a brief, cold bath or shower.


Find an Anger Outlet: And no, we don’t mean yelling at your significant other or the next available family member. Instead, discover healthy ways to vent. Write in a journal. Scream into or punch a pillow. Some towns and cities even have smash or rage rooms where you can safely release any pent-up frustrations. Let it all out.


Watch a Fractal Video: A fractal is a repeated pattern. As it repeats, it’s shown in finer and finer magnification. And you guessed it; they can significantly help your stress levels. Pull up a YouTube video and watch it for 15 minutes. You might surprise yourself with how calm you feel afterward. (Check out Youtube for various ones). 


Take a Mindful Break: Mindful Break is a plug-in that you can install with Chrome. It randomly forces you to stop and breathe. It even guides you through a short breathing exercise, thereby keeping you more mindful, and reducing your stress.


Visit Your Healthcare Practitioners: Stressed out? Book all those necessary health appointments right now, beginning with a dental cleaning. Surprisingly, plaque and tooth decay can lead to inflammation and may contribute to depression. Schedule an appointment for bloodwork with your medical physician and make sure everything is working in tip-top shape. Lastly, talk it out and set a therapy appointment to unload any mental baggage.


Consume Probiotics: Or start including them in your diet. Bacteria in the gut have been linked with higher stress levels. By regulating your microbiome, you’ll decrease the stress and anxiety in your life.


Lego to Let Go of Stress: It’s safe to say that most adults have forgotten how to play. Playtime can help decrease the stress and anxiety in your life. So, it’s time to dive into your inner child. Lego has come out with an adult-style brand of lego called Formo. Make more time for play. Go back to your childhood and start building. Or find other ways to play and have fun. We all need a little more of it.


Declutter Your Home: And maybe your work desk too while you’re at it. One study showed an association between clutter and life dissatisfaction. It can also increase your cortisol levels, sending your stress through the roof. Clean up house and home. Keep it tidy. You might notice more clarity and less stress and anxiety.


Add Lavender Incense: Lavender up your home. Get a diffuser. Try out essential oils. Lavender promotes feelings of calm and relaxation. Not a fan of lavender? Try lemon or mango. Science shows that when you inhale certain fragrances, your stress levels go down. 


Exercise: You’ve likely heard this one before. But if you’re still not participating in healthy habits – like exercise – the time is now. Plus, physical activity has so many other health benefits that you won’t want to miss.


Catch Up With Old Friends: Regular socialization can improve your brain chemistry and decrease cortisol levels. As a result, you feel less stress and less anxiety. So, get out there. Meet up with your old friends and have a good chat. You’ll feel better for it.

Research shows chronic stress can increase your inflammation and, ultimately, increase your risk of disease. Instead, uncover ways to lower your stress levels. Find methods and activities that help you relax. That way, you’ll lead a healthier, happier, and longer life. Join us on Instagram and Facebook for more helpful tips. 

Ready to talk to a therapist? Contact Bhatia Psychology Group today.

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