Top Tips To Relax In Life In 2022
As we enter a new year laden with uncertainty, our mental health and sense of well-being are being tested again. It’s OK (and normal) to fail these tests once in a while. In the last year, the pandemic has opened up conversations about how to provide more widespread and culturally sensitive mental health support for all ages, especially after the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy warned of an emerging youth mental health crisis earlier this month.
Why is it so important to normalize these discussions? Loretta Whitson, executive director of the California Assn. of School Counselors, shared a message she recently received about a young girl who went to see a school counsellor after attending a schoolwide mental health presentation and is now in much-needed therapy. “‘You gave that 12-year-old the courage to save herself,’” she read from the text message.
Learning to prioritize and manage your mental well-being — especially when the trauma is real and being anxious makes sense — is a process that requires patience. The Times’ Utility Journalism Team has been breaking down the basics of mental healthcare for those who have found the courage to seek help but may not realize what their options are.
There are many oft-cited recommendations for improving your mood, including exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and meditating. But different people have different socioeconomic and environmental stressors — and it’s often beneficial to connect with people who relate to your particular struggles and can share coping strategies that have worked for them.
The new year is just around the corner, and with it comes a season of resolution. Wishes for a healthier, happier life convert into action, and for some, the first wish is for less stress. To help you relieve stress that may come your way in 2022, Forbes Health Advisory Board members shared their advice on stress management, from practicing gratitude to practicing relaxation.
Top Tips For Figuring Out Your Mental Health
Be open to new experiences: Sometimes, people feel overwhelmed by the idea of seeking mental health care services and want to avoid it altogether. But that can be a decision based on fear rather than practicality. It’s important to remember that there are many ways to choose how and where you seek help.
You don’t have to enter a “mental health care system” (which is often stigmatized in our society). If you want to find other resources, consider talking with your friends and family, reaching out online and visiting a therapist in person at an institute for therapy or counselling.
Practice self-care: Self-care means more than just getting enough sleep every night. It also includes taking time for yourself – even if it’s just 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation each morning — as well as making time for friends and loved ones.
Seek support from people who understand what you're going through: When you feel like no one understands what you're going through, consider talking about your struggles with someone else who has had similar experiences — either in person or online (Facebook Q&A's are great places to start). In addition, figuring out what kinds of therapies work best for you takes time and requires patience; don’t give up too quickly.
- Surround yourself with support. It's important to have people in your life who know how you feel and are willing to listen without judgement. It's also good to share what you've been through so that someone else can give your insight on it, too.
- Seek counselling or therapy. Counselling or psychotherapy can help people learn vital skills like mindfulness, problem-solving and stress management techniques, which can ultimately improve the quality of their lives and their relationships with others.
- Check out new ways to relieve stress. People tend to self-medicate for stress when they don't know how else to cope, but there are a lot of non-drug options out there for relieving tension and anxiety. Whether it's meditation, yoga or just taking a long walk-in nature — find something that works for you.
Reach Out And Connect With People Who Share Similar Struggles
In this increasingly connected world, it’s easier than ever to find people with similar experiences. For example, if you struggle with depression, you can post on a community board dedicated to mental health issues or visit a support group that connects people who have been through the same struggles.
If you feel overwhelmed and incapable of managing your life — which is common for those with anxiety — reaching out to other people who may have had a similar experience can be helpful. Reaching out and connecting with people who share similar struggles can help ease the burden and provide insight into how they coped during difficult moments in their lives.
The power of finding someone who understands your mental health struggles and can offer support is significant. In a society where there are people who are always posting about their latest Instagram post or status update, it’s easy to forget that one person’s life may not be as glamorous as yours. This can have a negative effect on your mental well-being, too: Research has found that feeling like you are less important than others leads to more depression and anxiety. Connecting with others who share similar struggles will help you re-center yourself and find peace in your life.
Build Relaxation Into Your Routine
It’s not always feasible to spend a lot of time doing things that induce relaxation, but it is possible to incorporate more of these activities into your day. Take a few minutes every day to practice deep breathing or mindfulness exercises, and you’ll be able to reap the benefits even when you’re in the middle of a busy day. Or, if you find yourself in an anxious state and can’t seem to relax, try taking walks outside or spending time with people who make you feel safe.
When it comes to managing your stress levels, one of the most important tips is to build relaxation into your routine. For example, you might use a breathing exercise or try yoga as a way to de-stress in the morning. There are many different types of relaxation activities that can help you manage anxiety and improve your mental well-being.
To make sure you’re truly relaxing and not just zoning out, implement some time-outs into your day. Time-outs help people take a break from their thoughts by doing something else — whether it be taking a walk outside, listening to music or reading a book. This will help reduce negative thinking and give you time to let go of what stresses you out and refocus on something else.
Another way to relax is by practicing gratitude every day. When you're grateful for things that happen each day, it helps put less pressure on yourself and gives you perspective on what's really important in life without having to ruminate over everything that happens at once.
Another great thing about gratitude practice is that there are scientific studies backing the positive impact it has on how we feel about ourselves, others and the world around us. Implementing these practices into your daily routine could help lower stress levels significantly.
Make Stress Momentary
One of the most important things you can do is to make stress momentary. The first step in this process is to look at what you’re stressing about — then try to figure out how you can take a break from the situation. If your boss is pressuring you for more work without giving you time off, get a new job.
If your commute is too long, move closer to work. If your partner constantly nags you, consider finding someone else or trying an open relationship. The sooner you change these situations, the better your mood will be in the future. Of course, this isn’t always easy — but it will eventually become easier with practice and persistence.
In the wake of recent tragedies, many people are feeling more anxious as they worry about their future. But there are ways to take care of yourself that can be scaled and implemented in your day-to-day life regardless of how stressed you feel. These tips include:
- Avoiding coffee, alcohol or other drugs during the day;
- Creating a plan for the 24 hours ahead of time;
- Accepting what you can’t control;
- Doing something nice for someone else
Maybe you’re struggling with mental illness? Or perhaps you have a physical addiction you’re trying to get over. If so, practicing gratitude is a great way to regain perspective and feel more in control of your life. Gratitude can help people cope with life stressors. It’s also helpful in building relationships with those who support you and understand what you’re going through.
Practice gratitude by focusing on the positives in your life. This includes being grateful for any small victories that happen to come your way, even if they don't seem significant at first glance. Those small victories will help build your resilience and make it easier for you to deal with larger obstacles that arise later down the road — like when the person who loves you most suddenly decides they don't want to be with you anymore because of something that happened recently.
This is where real gratitude comes in handy: instead of feeling like someone has taken everything away from you, try finding reasons for why this all could have happened for good reason and then focus on how to move forward without making things worse than they already are.
Being mindful is often a good way to practice gratitude. One way to practice gratitude is by writing a gratitude journal. If you find yourself in an especially difficult time, it can be helpful to write down the things that you’re grateful for and reflect on them when you’re feeling low or anxious. Many people find that writing down what they are grateful for helps them recognize the blessings in their life that are worth holding onto during stressful times.
This idea of practicing gratitude also applies to other areas of your life beyond your mental wellbeing. When you feel stressed about things that have happened recently or worry about something going wrong, try taking a step back and remembering all the things you have to be thankful for. The times when you may not feel so great are the times when it’s easiest to be grateful for what you have — so keep your head up.
Try A Positive Mantra
When you’re on your own, it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook. One way to stay afloat is by repeating a positive mantra. This has been shown to help with stress, anxiety, low moods and other mental health issues. Get creative with your mantra: Research shows that people are more likely to remember mantras that are personal or meaningful. For example, “I am loved” or “I am enough” might work for someone who is struggling with feeling inadequate. For those struggling with addiction, the mantra might be “I will not drink today. I will not use drugs today.”
A positive mantra is an idea that provides a reason for your anxiety, and it can help you reframe negative thoughts. It’s common to have feelings of stress and worry when things aren’t going well, but these feelings don’t have to define your experience. A positive mantra can serve as a reminder that the feelings you are experiencing are temporary and there is hope that things will improve. Here are some examples of positive mantras:
- “I am doing my best”
- “It's not my fault.”
- “This too shall pass.”
- “One day at a time.”
Lower Your Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released in times of anxiety, and it has been shown to make people feel more anxious. There are lots of ways to lower your cortisol levels, but the most important one is breathing. This can be done through deep breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation.
Another great way to lower cortisol levels is through social interaction. The research suggests that spending time with friends and family who support you can help significantly lower cortisol levels. If you do not have access to friends or family members who live nearby, online communities may be a good option — especially if they focus on mental health topics. The best way to reduce your stress levels is to find healthy habits (including learning how to breathe) that work for you and implement them consistently into your daily routine.
Lowering your cortisol levels is one of the best ways to help you relax and de-stress. When your body has too much cortisol, it leads to a stress response with high blood pressure and heart palpitations. It also slows the metabolism, which means it can make you feel lethargic and sluggish. One of the best ways to lower your cortisol levels is by getting enough sleep. On average, adults should get six hours of sleep each night. You can also find other ways to lower your cortisol levels, including taking breaks from work or spending time in nature.
Meditation can help you manage stress, anxiety and depression. If you’re struggling to focus, meditation can help you clear the clutter of your thoughts so that you can work more effectively and productively. The process of clearing your mind is beneficial for those who are feeling overwhelmed by their daily lives — by aiding in the release of emotions like anger, guilt or shame. Meditation can also have physical benefits, including calming the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
Meditation is a tool that can help people with anxiety and depression, but it’s also good for the general mood. Meditation provides the opportunity to focus on your breath, which helps you center your thoughts. Plus, meditation has been shown to improve cognitive function and lower stress levels. Some other examples of different types of meditation include:
- Breathing meditation: Breathing in slowly through your nose, holding your breath for three seconds and exhaling slowly out of your mouth. Inhale slowly through your nose again, this time holding it for four seconds. Exhale slowly through your mouth again after holding it for four seconds. This is one full cycle of the breathing process.
- Mindfulness meditation: Focus on what you’re doing by focusing on the sensations in each part of the body as you’re doing it (e.g., your hands while brushing or eating). When you notice that you have drifted off, return back to the sensation in each part of the body until they become more established and then return to focusing on what you are doing again.
- Walking meditation: Find a peaceful place where it isn’t too crowded or noisy and get comfortable as soon as possible. Begin by standing with both feet together and close together at about shoulder-width apart, then start walking slowly around in a circle inside of this imaginary circle.
It’s no secret that sleep is important for your well-being, but the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has also found that poor sleep can be a sign of anxiety disorders. If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, it’s important to prioritize your mental health by getting enough sleep. Try to get 7-8 hours a night and make sure you have enough time to unwind before bedtime.
As previously mentioned, sleep is one of the most important ways to regulate mood and relieve stress. While sleep deprivation can be caused by a number of factors, there are also healthy habits that can help you avoid or at least make it easier to sleep.
One way to improve your sleep quality is to switch off electronics in your bedroom an hour before bed. This doesn’t mean turning off all devices, but keeping them on low-power mode or unplugging them all together will avoid interference with your natural sleep rhythms. You should also ensure that your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet enough for a good night’s rest.
For some people, exercise might be a helpful tool for improving mood and general well-being. There are many different types of exercise that you can try — from yoga to running —but not all types are beneficial for everyone. If you find that working out makes you feel anxious or fatigued in the long run, try exercising during times when you are feeling more up for it, like after work hours or first thing in the morning.
Life isn’t easy, but it can be made a lot more relaxed with the right habits and practices. Paying attention to what your body and mind need, connecting with people who share your struggles and taking the time to relax in your routine can go a long way to help you find happiness.
People understand the importance of mental health. With more people connecting and more awareness, everyone is improving the quality of their life and creating a better world. The tips for relaxing in life in 2022 are about what you can do to make your mental health better.
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