Americans Are More Stressed Than Ever: Here’s How You Can Chill Out

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Despite things that are supposed to make life easier such as productivity and money-management apps, on-demand cab services like Uber and the potential to work from home due to improved technology, a recent study shows Americans are feeling more stressed than ever.

Since 2007, the American Psychological Society has surveyed adults to find out how stressed they feel. This year, overall stress levels among the 3,500 participants were higher than in the past. Furthermore, the study found 24 percent of people were “extremely stressed,” compared to 18 percent the previous year.

If stress is getting to you, you’re not alone, but it’s time to take action. The tips below could help tame your tension and help peace of mind become your new normal, instead of an all too rare characteristic.

Don’t Be Afraid to Splurge a Little

Respondents from the study above cited money as one of the top factors causing them to feel frazzled. Even if you have a very tight budget, evaluate ways to leave some wiggle room, so you can treat yourself to nice things occasionally. From a dinner out to a new haircut, you should reward yourself for being cost-conscious most of the time. If you never allow for indulging in little luxuries, rigid spending habits may eventually backfire.

Calm Your Mind With Meditation

During stressful times, you may feel your mind is overwhelmed with fears, doubts and other negative emotions. You may be able to combat these feelings with meditation. It’s a beneficial technique you can practice anywhere. While meditating, you could become more self aware, develop healthier perspectives about stressful situations and learn to focus on the present rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

Reach Out to Friends

Sometimes when people become stressed, they distance themselves from friends because they don’t want to be burdensome. It’s important to recognize that support from friends is especially valuable when you’re under pressure. Make your friendships a priority, and be sure to behave reciprocally. Once you confide about why you’re stressed and ask advice on how to move past what you’re facing, make yourself available to pals when they need similar advice.

Engage in Your Favorite Form of Exercise

Stress causes atrophy in the brain that can make people more forgetful. Fortunately, studies show exercise can reverse those changes, plus release hormones that could contribute to brighter moods and increased cognitive functioning. Whether you do a spinning class at the gym or go for a walk on a nature trail, regular exercise could keep stress to a minimum.

Volunteer for a Personally Meaningful Cause

Arrange your schedule so you can spend at least a few hours a week volunteering for a charity or cause that means a lot to you. Maybe your cousin is fighting cancer and you’d like to give time to the local branch of a relevant support organization, or perhaps you want to help the homeless by dishing out meals and giving people wide smiles while working at a soup kitchen.

Doing something to help others usually requires stepping out of your comfort zone, and it often makes people realize how grateful they are for the things they have. If you cannot find room in your schedule to devote to volunteerism every week, consider working at one-off events such as dinners, walks and runs that are held for fundraising purposes.

Stress is a fact of life, but having well developed coping mechanisms can make the difference between managing well and having a meltdown. Remember the ideas above next time you’re looking for beneficial ways to destress.

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