7 Ways to Lower Stress

Mother and son doing yoga
It's normal to experience stress and anxiety from time to time. But recent data has shown that Americans are more stressed than ever before.

Factors like work, money, relationships, and global events are causing more people to suffer from debilitating stress. In fact, nearly 80% of adults said the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the leading causes of stress in their lives. 

Completely escaping stress can be difficult, if not impossible. However, cultivating proper stress management techniques can keep your anxiety from becoming overwhelming. Here, we'll give you a toolkit to manage stress and anxiety to live a healthier, happier life.

The impact of stress and anxiety on overall health

Everyone experiences stress in different ways. Stress can make you irritable, angry, restless, and even depressed. The impact of stress is most easily seen and felt on our mental health, but we often neglect to see how it affects us physically. 

Daily stress and anxiety can manifest itself in several ways. It can cause persistent headaches, muscle tension, chest pains, changes in eating habits, and insomnia, to name a few.

Over time, unmanaged stress and anxiety can lead to more serious physical problems, like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high blood sugar, a weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, hormone imbalances, digestive issues, weight gain, and many other ailments.

Additionally, the daily stress and anxiety you feel may cause you to develop more severe mental health disorders, like major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic attacks. 

Not only is stress management necessary for your mental health, but it can prevent you from developing other health conditions down the road.

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7 tips for stress management

When you're experiencing anxiety or having a stressful day, it can be hard to shake that feeling. However, there are plenty of stress management exercises you can incorporate to help clear your mind. While exercises aren't a solution to the root cause of your stress, it's key to start small with daily actions you can take to improve your mental health. Check out these natural ways to fight anxiety.

1. Make a to-do list

Are you feeling overwhelmed about all the things on your plate? One of the easiest and best ways to relieve stress is to write everything down. Make a to-do list with all the tasks you need to complete that day. Seeing these tasks on paper gets them out of your head so you can get organized and plan accordingly. 

2. Get enough sleep

Good sleep is essential for mental and physical health and reducing stress and anxiety. Stick to a regular sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. If your stress is causing insomnia, give yourself some time to wind down before bed. Read a book, play some relaxing music, diffuse essential oils, or light a candle. 

3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

When you're feeling stressed, it can be tempting to drink lots of coffee to boost your energy or turn to alcohol to wind down at the end of the day. However, overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol can cause you to feel even more anxious. Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol when you're experiencing anxiety, and try to replace those habits with more healthy ways to handle stress.

4. Prioritize movement

Exercise has been shown to improve quality of life and reduce stress considerably. Many doctors and mental health professionals say regular physical activity is one of the best stress management activities. Plus, you don't necessarily need to hit the weight rack or the treadmill to reap the benefits. Going for a walk, stretching, and yoga are also effective tools for stress management.

5. Practice meditation

Meditation is one of the oldest natural stress solutions, and it's become one of the most talked-about ways to reduce anxiety. If you don't already have a meditation practice, start by taking five to 10 minutes to sit in silence and focus on your breathing. You can also download free meditation apps on your phone and find guided meditations on platforms like Spotify and YouTube. 

6. Spend time outside

Anyone who loves the outdoors knows that nature is healing. The next time you're feeling stressed or anxious, head outside to clear your mind. The combination of fresh air, sunlight, and a change of scenery can shift your perspective and help ground you. It's also an excellent opportunity to reset and get a break from your phone or computer. 

7. Talk to a friend or loved one

One of the most effective stress reduction techniques is simply talking to someone about how you're feeling. The next time you're feeling stressed, call up a friend or family member and have a conversation. Whether you need to vent or want to distract yourself from your anxiety, connecting with a loved one can make you feel better.

Does anxiety impact life insurance premiums? 

Using stress management tips can help you handle your anxiety in a healthier, more productive way. But if you're in the market for life insurance, you may be wondering if anxiety will impact the cost of your premium. 

The answer is — it depends. If you've been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, you may pay a higher life insurance premium. However, if you purchase no-medical exam life insurance through a company like Ethos, your rate will probably not be affected. 

Our term life policies and whole life insurance policies for seniors never require a medical exam (simply answer a few health questions). It's easy to get a free quote and purchase life insurance online. Most applicants can even get same-day coverage.

If you're not sure whether you need life insurance, you can check out Ethos' resources to learn how life insurance can protect your loved ones and how to develop healthy habits for a $1 million policy.