Posted by Nicole on January 16, 2020
A new year should mean a fresh start. But a lot of us find ourselves weighed down by excess stress as we come out of the holidays. While we enjoyed spending time with family and friends, we may feel exhausted by all the planning, preparation, and cleanup we did along the way. We also have fallen out of our regular routines, and can have a hard time getting back into the swing of things.
So, make it your priority this year to reduce stress, and get started on it right away! Following are 10 New Year’s Resolutions to help you fight stress now and throughout the year ahead.
1. Get more sleep.
A study on shift workers showed that “shift-workers suffer from physical and psychological distresses, sleep problems and stress than non-shift workers.”
Another paper states, “epidemiological studies suggest that sleep complaints and sleep restriction may be important risk factors for a variety of diseases that are often linked to stress, including cardiovascular diseases and mood disorders.”
So, if you have an irregular, insufficient sleep schedule, one of the best resolutions you can make for the new year to combat stress is to get more consistent sleep.
Both your body and brain can benefit from regular exercise as well. This research says, “The strongest evidence suggests that physical activity and exercise probably alleviate some symptoms associated with mild to moderate depression. The evidence also suggests that physical activity and exercise might provide a beneficial adjunct for alcoholism and substance abuse programs; improve self-image, social skills, and cognitive functioning; reduce the symptoms of anxiety; and alter aspects of coronary-prone (Type A) behavior and physiological response to stressors.”
So, if you could be working out more, think about making a commitment to do so. You could find it does a lot to improve your mental health.
3. Try meditation.
Have you thought about trying meditation? If that is something which interests you, think about making this the year you pursue it.
According to this study, “Meditators and the meditation condition habituated heart rate and phasic skin conductance responses more quickly to the stressor impacts and experienced less subjective anxiety. Meditation can produce a psychophysiological configuration in stress situations opposite to that seen in stress-related syndromes.”
4. Get more social.
For a lot of people, socializing can be a great stress reducer, especially sharing laughter with family and friends.
Just keep in mind that whether socializing reduces stress or produces it depends on context. In order for socializing to help reduce stress, you need to avoid over-committing yourself, and make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who genuinely make you happy.
5. Set limits.
Speaking of over-committing, saying "yes" to too many things is a big cause of stress for many people.
If this describes you, make it one of your resolutions this year to learn how to say "no" when you already have too much on your plate.
Doing so can feel uncomfortable in the beginning. You may worry about the social consequences.
But so long as you are gracious and fair in how you handle your commitments, you will probably discover that you have more freedom to say "no" than you thought.
And when you do not over-commit yourself and stress yourself out, both personal and professional relationships will probably become more harmonious.
6. Appreciate the good things in your life.
Research shows that, “Overall gratitude seems to directly foster social support, and to protect people from stress and depression, which has implications for clinical interventions.”
So, if you regularly remind yourself about all of the things in your life which you are grateful for, that can have a direct impact on your stress levels.
There are many ways you can do this. But the easiest might just be to go through a list in your head when you wake up in the morning or before you fall asleep at night.
You can also look for ways to demonstrate your appreciation to the people and things in your life which matter.
7. Cut out toxic people and influences.
Stress doesn't come out of nowhere. It tends to result from actual people, places, obligations and events in our lives.
Some of these (like your tedious day job) you might have little or no control over.
But there are many aspects of your life that you can influence or control.
So, if there are toxic influences in your life that you can cut off from, you might want to make this the year that you finally do so.
8. Give yourself permission to relax and do something fun on a regular basis.
One of the simplest ways that you can combat stress is simply to take more time to enjoy the activities that you love.
Sometimes, our schedules really are so busy that we cannot find time for ourselves. But quite frequently, we make excuses about what we “can’t” do to avoid what we simply won’t do.
We often feel guilty when we give ourselves time for leisure and relaxation, purely for our own mental health and happiness.
But that attitude does nothing but prevent us from meeting our basic needs.
If you feel guilty about giving yourself regular leisure time, ask yourself what advice you would give somebody else that you care about.
You would tell a loved one to take time to take care of themselves, right? You should treat yourself with the same kindness you would anyone else who is important to you.
9. Try something new.
Another great way to potentially reduce stress is to try new things.
Trying new things can be stressful to start with, but you never know when you might discover a new hobby you love or something else to enjoy.
Eventually, those new things can become part of your ongoing routine.
Plus, trying new things can give you a fresh perspective on life. New experiences also can disrupt old thought patterns that are dragging you down.
10. Take a supplement for cortisol support.
One more idea for reducing stress for the year ahead is to start taking a natural supplement to support cortisol health. Ingredients which can help reduce stress include magnesium, Ashwagandha root extract, Rhodiola root extract, magnolia bark extract and Phosphatidylserine.
You now have 10 suggestions for how you can reduce stress over the next year. Even if all of you decide to do is make just one or two of these New Year’s resolutions, sticking with them should make a significant positive difference in your life. Hopefully, before long, they will become deeply ingrained habits which keep you grounded and relaxed.