“Gosh, I am just so stressed!” How many times have you said that? Weekly? Daily? Hourly? Levels of stress are at an all-time high. According to the American Psychological Association “…nearly half of parents (46%) [say] their stress level is high (between 8 and 10 on a 10-point scale where 1 means ‘little or no stress’ and 10 means ‘a great deal of stress’).”
Mental health disorders are equally at record highs, with more than 45% of Americans reporting symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder. In the first half of 2019, that number was at just 11%.
It’s more important than ever to reduce the toxin of stress flooding cortisol throughout your body – cortisol leads to inflammation, which is the root cause of many chronic diseases. Cancer. Type II diabetes. Heart disease. Stress even increases risk of obesity, another precursor to these diseases and more debilitating conditions.
This is one of many reasons why we need to be our own best health care advocates. A breast cancer diagnosis at age 40 compelled me to become exactly that. Forced me to need to learn to meditate. Find calm in my chaotic day. To breathe. Hopefully, you don’t need the same wake-up call to take action today.
Here are some easy, actionable, no-cost ways to reduce stress levels and get on with a happier, easier daily life!
Some of my key Your Healthiest Healthy strategies include:
- Control what you can control.
- Worry when you need to worry.
- Focus on small moments daily.
- Move your body!
Ready to delve deeper into this and arm yourself with the tools necessary to take small, manageable steps to breathe a little easier?
First, control what you can control. There are truly only a few things within our control. Specifically, our effort (or actions) and our attitude. We can’t always control what’s happening to us or around us, but we can control how we react to and process the situation.
Second, and this is a big one – the one tool that truly saved me during Covid, earthquakes, cancer and other health scares – worry only when you have to worry. Tackle your concerns when you need to address them but don’t spend your whole day or week worrying about something looming in the future – and often worrying about something that may never even come to fruition! One tactic here that helps is to remind yourself of the good things you have going. It also really helps to question the reasoning behind your worries and learn from them.
Another helpful tool is to focus on small moments daily. It helps to write down three small but good moments that happened during the day. Each day. Numerous studies have proved that gratitude journals have a powerful positive impact on mental health.
Now for my other staple go-to method for dealing with stress: Breathe right, breathe slowly, and breathe deeply…often. The stress melts away within moments. Diaphragmatic breaths initiate a brain-gut axis response as well, so both digestion can ease and mood can lift with this exercise!
As for breathwork, it doesn’t take a 30-minute meditation session to get results. I am a huge fan of micro-meditations. It’s something I discuss with the members of my wellness community often. Even a 30-second to 2-minute stop-down, where you put down your devices and focus on deep belly breaths, will change your mood and calm your anxiety.
When all else fails… get out in nature and move your body! The power of our universe and all the beauty it offers can be more transformative than anything. Listen to the birds, feel the sun (vitamin D!) on your face and breathe in the fresh air while kicking up your cardio. Endorphins never fail us as a mood-lifter, either.
When it comes to feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work (whether a home-office or at your place of work), here are a few bonus tips for how to de-stress:
- Organize your work and living space to clear the clutter and create a peaceful environment
- Prioritize tasks to focus on one thing at a time
- Delegate tasks whenever possible when feeling overwhelmed
Beyond the mental and breath tools, nutrition also packs a punch. Some foods to AVOID that increase the severity of anxiety include:
- Refined sugar and even some fruits
- Hydrogenated oils (think fried)
- Fast Food
- High-sodium foods
- Trans fat
- Processed foods
Foods to help calm anxiety include:
- Root vegetables – these delish foods contain vital grounding and soothing properties that help ease the effects of cortisol and other stress-related hormones. They are also foods rich in B Vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for our brains to function properly and regulate hormone release. Wild salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds are just some examples of this.
Other foods which are known to benefit the symptoms of anxiety are:
- Dark Chocolate
- Red lentils
So get shopping and load up on these nutrient-dense delights to soothe your mind and nourish your body.
Last tip: To lift your mood and add in some laughter, turn up the music and dance your stress away! Dance party, anyone?!
ABOUT SAMANTHA HARRIS:
Samantha Harris hosted dozens of TV shows including Dancing with the Stars for eight seasons, garnering two Emmy nominations, and served as correspondent and weekend anchor on Entertainment Tonight, where she earned two more Emmy nominations and a win. A Certified Holistic Health Coach and trainer, she has appeared on the covers of numerous health and fitness magazines. Her bestselling book, Your Healthiest Healthy: 8 Easy Ways to Take Control, Prevent and Avoid Cancer, and Live a Longer, Cleaner, Happier Life ignited such a following that she now offers wellness retreats and her subscription-based online wellness community, Your Healthiest Healthy: Community. As a breast cancer survivor and advocate, she also serves as a National Ambassador for Susan G. Komen and American Cancer Society Visit her @SamanthaHarrisTV on Instagram/Facebook and at Samantha-Harris.com.