Are you stressed out? Chances are, you answered YES! Modern day stress has reached epidemic proportions, affecting 8 in 10 Americans who report experiencing daily stress. By comparison, only about 21 percent of those polled by Gallup in 2017 state they “rarely” or “never” feel stress. In recognition of April being Stress Awareness Month, take a look at these simple tips that can help minimize tension and anxiety.

Talk It Out

Your friends and family love you through good times and bad. When you’re stressed, reaching out to loved ones can be more healing than you might think. A reassuring voice can help you sort through your problems and may even offer sage advice. Even if your friend just listens, the act of verbalizing your worries is cathartic. Maintaining and nurturing interpersonal relationships is key for a healthy lifestyle.

If it’s the middle of the night or your bestie is unavailable, you can even “talk it out” alone. It might seem crazy, but you have the power to become your own therapist. Calmly tell yourself why you are stressed, what actions you will take to address the issue and (most importantly) that everything will work out fine! 

Relaxing Music

Take a break and listen to soothing music like classical, or even ocean and nature sounds. It might sound silly but calming tunes are beneficial both physically and mentally. The relaxing effect can reduce a hormone related to stress, called cortisol, while also decreasing blood pressure.

Eat (and Drink) Right

Consuming a proper, healthy diet is closely related to stress levels. If you’re anxiety ridden, you may forget to eat, or overindulge. Steer clear of fat laden, sugar filled food that will only contribute to stress. Plan ahead with nutritious meals and snacks that include plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein that will fill you up. Some food, like fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, have even been shown to decrease stress related symptoms.

It’s also wise to forego loads of caffeine when the anxiety rises. Large amounts of caffeine spike blood pressure and rev up your entire system. Try green tea in lieu of energy drinks or coffee as it contains healthy antioxidants and provides a calming effect from the amino acid, theanine.    

Breathe In, Breathe Out

It is no coincidence that Buddhist monks have focused on deliberate breathing and meditation for centuries. Deep breathing helps oxygenates your blood, clears your mind and centers your body. All it takes is three to five minutes of deep, slow breathing to illicit a sense of peace.

Going hand in hand with breathing exercises is the concept of mindfulness. Whether it is yoga, tai chi, Pilates or meditation, activities that emphasis physical and mental well-being have a restorative influence. Enjoy nature! Reconnect with yourself.

Go To Sleep

Everyone knows stress can keep you up at night! But lack of sleep actually causes stress. So if you’re not getting enough shut-eye, it could become a vicious stress induced cycle. If you aren’t getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep, make a conscious effort to turn the electronics off earlier, dim the lights and begin the wind down process sooner.

Stress is often just a part of life. The good news is, it can be managed with a few lifestyle changes. Recognize when you’re overwhelmed and address challenges before stress takes a negative toll on your mental or physical health.