Stop. Take a deep breath. Feel better, don’t you? In honor of National Mental Health Month in the U.S., I urge everyone to make an effort to slow down and breathe. Will a calm moment instantly eliminate all of the stress weighing you down? Of course not, but I can almost guarantee that it won’t make you feel any worse.
Did you know that nearly one out of every five Americans report that they experience high levels of stress 15 or more days per month? And that money, work and the economy are the most significant sources of stress for adults? (According to studies conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2007 and 2009.)
Not surprising statistics, but not encouraging either. Especially when you consider that evidence shows stress is correlated with heart disease among many other medical problems. According to Newsweek, experts claim that 60-90 percent of doctor visits are stress-related. Plus, stress causes fatigue, irritability and depression. All things that make it very difficult to work successfully and productively.
So what’s the solution? A long-range goal of changing our lifestyles isn’t a bad idea, although not always realistic. For right now, or the next time you get hit with a blast of stress, try one of these 5-minutes-or-less stress relief activities:
- Do a lap or two around your house
- Stand up and stretch
- Look at pictures from a recent (fun) event
- Read something that takes your mind of the issue (SitePoint.com is always a good place to start!)
- Listen to music that calms you
- Close your eyes and clear your mind
- Get some fresh air
- Laugh or make someone else laugh
The key is to start small, make it a habit and before you know it, you’ll have a routine for managing stress and boosting your mental health. And it can all start with a deep breath.
Image credit: aroncb