Tweets, text messages, emails, and an endless stream of social media—it's not usually a question of if we're feeling overloaded, but by how much. Access to digital technology and our subsequent awareness of everything happening in the world has never been more heightened. But how beneficial is all this information coming at us if it raises our blood pressure in the process and leaves us feeling entirely stressed out?
Get Dr. Madsen's top recommendations for stemming the flow and, in the process, lowering your stress levels in 2019:
1. Watch Less TV
It’s such an automatic thing we do—after a long, hard day you turn on the TV or binge-watch your favorite series on Netflix. The problem is, watching TV with its rapidly changing visuals and sudden noises are overstimulating in itself (not to mention the fact you might be watching inherently stressful content like the news!) so rather than being relaxing, it can often add to the problem. Try giving yourself a curfew (ideally around 8 pm so it doesn’t mess with your melatonin production) and switch off your brain with one of our below ideas.
2. Take a Nightly Walk
Yes, walking is good to burn calories and get your fitness levels up, but taking a nightly walk at a moderate pace is one of the best stress-busting activities out there. Studies have shown that taking a walk puts your brain into a calmer state, reduces stress, improves memory and attention, and boosts energy levels. Try taking a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes (and at this time of year it’s perfect!) and get those feel-good endorphins pumping.
3. Watch the Sunset More Often
You don’t have to wait to be on vacation in an exotic location to take time to watch the sunset. With the days longer and the weather warmer it’s the perfect way to pause, appreciate what you already have, and marvel at the wonder of this world we live in. That sense of perspective in itself is stress-busting and you can’t help but slow down your body and mind.
4. Pause and Take (at least) 3 Deep Breaths
The American Institute of Stress tells us that when you feel overwhelmed, deep breathing activates your body’s natural relaxation response—which increases oxygen to the brain while decreasing your heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and muscle tension. Obviously, you can do this anywhere and anytime whether you’re at work, waiting for an appointment, or at the dentist—breathing deeply into your abdomen will calm your worries and quiet your mind.
5. Turn Off All Devices After 8 pm & Read a Good Book
If you’re like most Americans, you have a device in your pocket that keeps you connected to the online world 24/7. (Trusting it’s not after 8 pm as you read this:) But the light that these devices emit stimulates serotonin (the “it’s time to wake up hormone”) and inhibits melatonin (the “bedtime” hormone). Swap out your phone for a good fiction book, indulge in a relaxing hobby, and point your mind and body in the direction of peaceful sleep.
The University of California reports that we’re consuming about three times the amount of information today as we did in 1960 so having a plan to reduce the stress associated with the overload of data is crucial. Not to mention—if you try out some of my tips it’ll probably have a positive flow-on effect to your relationships with family and friends and help you to have the healthiest summer ever.