Posted by Nicole on February 5
2020 was a tough year for just about everyone. If you experienced problems with money or health, your year may have been particularly challenging. But even if you escaped a lot of the worst of what 2020 had to offer, odds are your stress levels were higher than usual.
It’s still early in 2021, and many people are beginning to realize that a lot of the problems of 2020 haven’t gone away. That means that this year, you cannot wait for things to improve in the world to make you feel better. You will need to be proactive in looking out for your mental and physical health.
So, what can you do to more effectively manage your stress levels this year? Let’s go over some recommendations.
1. Get more sleep.
Did you lose more sleep than usual in 2020? The Harvard Gazette reported, “Sleep is emerging as the latest casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. Too many sleepless nights can aggravate both physical and mental health problems, but a few simple adjustments to our already altered routines may resolve our bedtime issues before they snowball.”
If you are still having a hard time sleeping this year, take steps to improve your sleep hygiene, implement a relaxing bedtime routine, and consider taking a supplement for healthy sleep like Ashwagandha, L-Theanine, or Melatonin.
Most importantly, take your sleep seriously. Don’t stay up late reading the news or wrestling with your budget. Take care of those matters earlier in the day.
2. Spend less time watching or reading the news.
Speaking of news, a lot of us took in a great deal more of it than was necessary in 2020. It is important to stay informed, but reading the news doesn’t by itself change events.
Make it your commitment this year to put some strict caps on how many minutes a day you will spend reading or watching the news. Do what you need to in order to stay informed, but spend the rest of your time focused on your own life or on things you can actually do to help (like vote).
3. Switch off social media more often.
Like the news, your social media feed can become a black hole that is hard to crawl out of it—and a stressful one at that. In fact, your feed probably is full of a lot of the same content that stresses you in the news—only with an added burst of hysteria.
So, consider limiting your time on social media this year. It may help you to disconnect from some of the things that are stressing you and reconnect to things that soothe you.
4. Spend more time outdoors in the fresh air.
Didn’t get a lot of fresh air in 2020? That wouldn’t be a surprise, especially if you live in a city. Once you're able, you should return to your normal habits. Get back to taking more time to enjoy the outdoors.
5. Restore healthy habits you abandoned in 2020.
A lot of us let healthy habits fall by the wayside last year. We were so overwhelmed by events that we may have abandoned our commitments to diet, exercise, and activities that bring us happiness.
If that describes you, make a point of restoring those habits this year. You should start feeling better once you get back to your healthy routines.
6. Socialize more.
Like fresh air and sleep, socializing fell off a cliff for a lot of people in 2020, leading to increased stress. Try and reconnect this year with family, friends, and your local community, even if you still have to do a lot of that online.
7. Cut toxic influences out of your life.
When you are super stressed, it is always wise to examine the people in your life and ask yourself if any of them might be unnecessary contributors to your stress.
If you can remove some toxic individuals from your life altogether, it could be a major weight off your back. With others, you might want to see if you can set firmer boundaries.
8. Avoid burnout by dropping unnecessary commitments.
Just as unnecessary toxic people can stress you out, so can unnecessary commitments. If you have a lot of obligations that you do not really need to be taking on, you might want to say “no” more often this year.
Not good at saying “no?” Don’t worry, a lot of people aren’t. It takes practice. And while it can be stressful in and of itself, it will usually save you more stress than it causes.
9. Look for ways to become anti-fragile and adaptive to change.
2020 required everyone to make a lot of adaptations in their lives. Many people had a very hard time even with minor adjustments.
While there has been a lot of talk about “getting back to normal,” It is much more likely that the world is going to continue to change in dramatic ways over the years ahead.
If you want to feel less stress this year and over the years to come, you can work on becoming more responsive to change.
Part of this can be finding ways to become anti-fragile. Anti-fragility goes a step beyond resilience. Instead of just surviving change, you find ways to turn challenging situations to your advantage.
10. Don’t make yourself responsible for other people’s emotions (or them for yours).
Do you feel stressed because other people in your household are stressed? Do you feel like you need to solve their problems in order to relax?
It is normal and healthy to try and help the people you care about when you can, and to feel sympathy for them when they are having a hard time.
But ultimately, you are not responsible for making them feel less stressed, nor can you make them responsible for the stress you are feeling regarding their moods. If you do, you will probably just upset them more.
Worry less about how other people feel. It is okay for someone else in your household to feel stressed. Help with what you can, and then focus on taking responsibility for your own stressful emotions.
11. Keep your focus on what makes your life meaningful.
Finally, when we are focused on things that are scary or hard to deal with, we can easily lose focus on the meaningful and bright things that are in our lives right now.
Take stock of the things that you have now and expect to have tomorrow that make life worthwhile even with the stress.
Together, the suggestions above should help you to cope with stress more effectively this year than you may have in 2020. Still need some extra help? Supplements like 5-HTP, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, and Ashwagandha can help support your mental health.