The past couple of years have been challenging for everyone not only physically but also mentally. As we all embark on what we hope will be a better year in 2022, we wanted to share some helpful tips to help alleviate stress while bolstering your immune system in the coming year. If you can’t tackle all of them, try one, because even making one positive change can make a huge difference!
Prioritize Your Physical Health
Little things you do each day can increase your total health – from what you eat to how often you get out of your desk chair. Follow these tips to alleviate physical stress:
- Eat in moderation. You don’t need to be on a strict diet or restrict the foods you eat, just beware of how much of it you actually consume. It’s okay to have a cookie or ice cream if you want to have it one or two days a week. Don’t cheat yourself. Treat yourself. Overeating and undereating are both detrimental to your overall health. Rather than depriving yourself of the foods you love, just eat less of it. You’ll be amazed at the difference this makes.
- Get a full night’s rest. When you skip out on sleep, you miss important healing and immune-boosting time for your body. Sleep is alsoessential for brain functioning and it lowers your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease. Getting sleep reduces stress and improves your mood. You think more clearly and do better in school and at work – not to mention, you get along a lot better with people around you. So, do yourself a favor and get that extra cat nap.
- Move your body. This doesn’t mean to hit the gym every day. Instead, make additional steps every day. Park farther away from the entrance to the store. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Take an extra loop with your dog walk in the morning. Choose to walk to get fresh air. Those extra steps add up, and it helps build your heart rates and burn calories.
Develop Positive Coping Skills
Focusing on mental health is just as important as physical health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need help, you may consider these tips to help create better coping skills:
- Seek mental health support. We all go through challenging times, and we encourage you to look for a therapist for a mental health wellness checkup. With fewer stigmas about seeking help to improve mental health, we hope more people realize it's okay to reach out and develop ways to manage stress. These coping skills will help you to function even through intense high-pressure situations.
- Help others. By helping others, you're helping yourself. If you see someone who's upset, ask them how you can support them, because many times when you're supporting someone else, it's also helping you do the same. Consider volunteering your time as well. You may find that helping other people can be therapeutic.
- Find a new hobby. You can also go on vacation or even a staycation if you’re concerned about traveling long distances. Try something new, like how to play the guitar, cross-stitch or bake desserts. Developing a healthy hobby builds confidence and alleviates daily stressors. You’re encouraged to find that “me time” in your day – from soaking in a long bath to curling up with a fun new book.
Consider Getting Vaccinated (if you haven’t already!)
Feeling stressed out for any length of time, whether it’s a few days or several weeks, can weaken the immune system. It can affect the ways in which the body responds to bacteria, viruses, and even vaccines, according to the American Psychological Association. Keeping your stress levels low can help to develop a positive response to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Receiving all three doses of the vaccine may also provide peace of mind, decreasing the stress of worrying about what is not in your control. Even wearing a mask in public and social distancing may help with providing a feeling of control in your environment, while lessening your exposure to the virus.