We're confronted with stressful situations every day -- at home, at work, and even on the road. Finding ways to reduce stress could help you lower your risk for serious health problems like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . To help curb your stress level and stay healthy, we'e compiled five easy actions you can take to help cut down on your stress anywhere and anytime:
1. Be prepared. Stress can often occur when you feel out of control and without direction. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by writing down a prioritized to-do list. Then, plan out your schedule and, if possible, prepare for those tasks ahead of time.
2. Take a moment to breathe. At times, life can feel like its speeding by at 100 mph. When things start to feel overwhelming, take a moment for yourself. It could be as simple as sitting down, closing your eyes, and taking a few breaths. Let your muscles relax. With your eyes closed, imagine a place where you feel safe and comfortable. Maybe it's the beach, your bed, or your favorite bookstore. Sometimes taking a few minutes to relax and re-center can put a stressful situation in perspective.
3. Get your heart racing. Get active. Even 30 minutes of walking every day could help boost your mood and reduce stress, reports the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Plus, the Mayo Clinic notes that regular physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed, not to mention improve your heart health.
4. Talk to friends and family. Whatever stress you’re feeling, you don’t have to bear it alone. Friends and loved ones can help you work through what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling this way, and what can be done to improve the situation.
5. Give yourself some credit! It’s easy to get swept up in what hasn’t been done yet, but be sure to reward yourself for what you’ve already accomplished.
It’s normal to feel stressed. Life doesn’t always go as planned, and that’s OK. We may not be able to control every aspect of our lives, but we can control how we react. If you can remember to pause, breathe, talk it out, and exercise every now and then, you’ll be well on your way to managing your stress levels. For a little peace of mind while driving, you might also want to consider being a member of Direct’s Roadside Assistance program. It includes 24-hour emergency towing, lost key and lockout service, and much more.