Student opinion: Here’s how to head into the new year with a stress-free mentality

As the new year starts, most of us already feel overwhelmed. A new year can bring the same bad habits from last year. How we feel emotionally can affect our mental state and our physical well-being. Negative emotions tend to have negative effects on our minds and our bodies. The stress of daily responsibilities, such as school or work, can translate to mental fatigue. 

A study conducted in 2017 by the American Psychological Association determined that 61% of Americans are stressed by work. When anxiety overtakes our lives, doing minimal tasks can become a significant load. Neglecting ourselves and our relationships with loved ones can feel like a better option. Lashing out at minor setbacks can be a typical response. Due to stress, feeling lost and out of control becomes a normal sensation. 

Cultivating healthy habits is the key to decompressing and changing our mindset. Everyone deals with stress differently, but actively seeking to manage stress is a personal choice. Here are some ways to conquer stress.

First, leaving a day of the week to enjoy yourself can help you relax. Dedicating a specific time to enjoy the things you love to do without any stressful distractions can help you rewind your mind. Taking a day of rest or a day to develop personal growth and find joy in the little things you enjoy can be something you can add to your routine. Simple things can go a long way. 

Second, setting time apart to exercise can improve your emotional state. Exercising releases endorphins, a hormone known for altering your mood and boosting your happiness. The APA released a survey in 2013 that showed 62% of adults who exercise claim they can manage stress more effectively than when they don’t.

Third, following a healthier diet can transform your mind. When our brain is caught up in the strain of life, making decisions can be overwhelming, and we tend to choose the most accessible resource. People are prone to eat foods with a lot of calories or fat during strenuous stress cycles. 

According to the APA study in 2013, 33% of adults overeat or eat unhealthily because consuming food distracts them from their stress, while 27% of adults eat to cope with their stress, and for 34% of those individuals, it has become a habit. A diet full of healthy nutrients regulates hormones related to stress. Eating nourishing foods is a beneficial element to feeling better overall. 

Fourth, getting enough sleep can help you feel refreshed in the morning. Stress is known to disturb sleep schedules. Lack of sleep can increase your stress level. Less sleep can affect your memory processing, and your mood can become unstable, your attention span will be reduced and your creativity and problem-solving skills will underperform. 

A medically reviewed article by Karen Asp shows that adequate sleep works as a great defense for stress. This can be avoided by implementing a routine before bed, like not looking at electronics one hour before bed or following an established sleep time. You are responsible for creating a comfortable sleep environment by considering how dark your room is, how much noise can be heard from your bed, what temperature you prefer and how comfortable your mattress is. 

Finally, nurturing family relationships and cultivating friendships can reciprocate positive feelings. Positioning yourself in a positive environment with people who care for you can create a sense of comfort. They can help you see that you are not alone and help you during stressful times. The support of a community can lower levels of depression and loneliness, which can be developed as an effect of stress.

Garcia is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter

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