We all want to be a better, less stressed version of ourselves in the New Year. Really accomplish this? No easy task, especially in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Luckily, there is a list of expert tips and research you can follow to lead you into a calmer, happier New Year. Fox News has spoken to mental health experts about their secrets to help slip you into that healthier state of mind.
1. Practice the “STOP” skill.
This is a wise strategy shared by Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University of New York, in a branch of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT.
“Stop means: Stop; Take a step back; Observe; Proceed conscientiously, ”she explains. “When emotions take over, you may find that you are acting impulsively. When you react impulsively, you don’t have time to use your arsenal of skills.
When you get nervous about something or feel panicked, use “STOP” to take control of the situation.
2. Or use the “TIP” skills.
Another MO from DBT, Romanoff breaks down “TIP”: “Tilt your face temperature with cold water; Intense aerobic exercises; Rhythmic breathing and muscle relaxation in pairs, ”she says, noting that each of these techniques quickly alter your biological stress response pattern. “In turn, they lower your emotional arousal. These skills work like fast-acting drugs.
By grounding yourself in the present moment, you will be able to better cope with whatever lies ahead.
3. Immerse your face in cold water for up to one minute.
For a modified version of “TIP,” just try putting your face in cold water, and you might be surprised at how the experience resets your mental vision.
“Bend over, hold your breath and submerge your face in a bowl of cold water for up to 60 seconds,” Romanoff suggests. “This is usually sufficient to induce the ‘diving reflex’. The colder the water and the longer the immersion, the better it works.
As Romanoff explains, the diving reflex occurs when our heart tends to slow below the resting heart rate when submerged in cold water without oxygen, due to increased activation of the system. parasympathetic nervous, which decreases arousal. You may find that taking a cold, icy shower also resets your mood.
4. Go out during daylight hours.
It can be cold outside, but going outside is still important for your sanity.
“Having fewer hours of daylight can negatively impact your mood,” says Doreen Marshall, vice president of mission engagement at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
To help cope with less sun, she recommends finding 30 minutes to get outside.
“You can just sit and watch the sunrise or walk around your neighborhood. Whatever you do, make an effort to make it a daily habit,” she says.
If you are physically able, don’t worry about running or jogging for the health benefits of getting outside – a walk will do.
“A lot of people think that it takes vigorous exercise to get any benefit, but research, including in my lab, has shown that it really isn’t,” echoes Thomas Plante, professor of psychology at the University of Santa Clara and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry. at Stanford University School of Medicine. “Stress reduction can be found by taking short walks. Try to walk every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, and you will be less stressed over time.
5. Connect with others if you feel alone.
The pandemic has completely changed the way we socialize, and millions of Americans are struggling with a sense of isolation.
“Chances are, you’re not the only one feeling lonely, and sharing how you feel can empower others to do the same,” says Marshall. “Reach out to someone who can feel this too and talk about ways you can stay connected and support each other.”
It can be a bit difficult to reconnect with people, but try to challenge yourself to send three emails a week to someone you haven’t heard from in a while, or call a loved one different every week to check and see how they are doing. Not only will you brighten up your own day, but you will brighten someone else’s day.
“As the saying goes, what happens comes back. We live in a remarkably stressful and rather apocalyptic time where the difficulties associated with stress create a tsunami of mental health problems, ”says Plante. “When we are kind to others, they are generally kind to us, a positive boomerang effect, which can then reduce stress, anxiety, depression, for all of us.”
6. Identify your triggers.
“The most effective way to reduce stress is to start using stress reduction techniques as soon as you realize you are feeling stress,” says Lin Sternlicht, therapist and co-founder of Family Addiction Specialist, based at New York. “To do this, it is important to identify the triggers that could cause stress, thus preparing us better to deal with stress when we anticipate it.”
Triggers vary among individuals, but they can include certain people, places, things, foods (caffeine is often a culprit), activities, times of the year, or times of the day.
For example, if you know the paperwork is stressing you out and you receive a complicated health care form in the mail, rather than going dizzy, identify it as a trigger situation for you. Sometimes it’s enough to recognize the trigger and take a moment to take a break to help yourself feel better.
In these times, rather than panicking, you can also try doing something proactive like doing a short guided meditation track, repeating a calming mantra, or playing some relaxing music. As Sternlicht also notes, pay attention to any physiological signals you may have when you experience a trigger, like a muscle tightening or increased heart rate.
7. Remember the big picture.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to keep our everyday and worldly problems in perspective.
“Too often, we are stressed by the little things, the daily hassles, making mountains with molehills,” says Plante. “We need to take a deep breath and ask ourselves if what is really troubling us in the whole matters. Otherwise, drop it.
Facing a stressful time, you might want to ask yourself if this problem is something you will remember in two years, two months, or even two weeks. Often the answer is no to all three of these scenarios, even if things seem magnified at the time.
8. Practice forgiveness.
Whether it’s a grudge you’ve held onto for decades or a close family member who annoys you, the act of forgiving is an amazing thing.
“Forgiveness is a powerful tonic against bitterness, anger and upset,” says Plante. “Practice it regularly, not often easy to do I admit, but you can improve yourself, and you will feel less stressed. “
9. Try the “Grounding Method”.
Being in the here and now is easier said than done, but incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily life can go a long way.
“An important technique for stopping the stress response is to ground yourself in the present moment. Stress is often triggered by experiences that are not happening in the present moment, often due to past or future events and wandering, ”says Sternlicht. “As such, getting anchored is an effective technique for relieving stress. There are many techniques for grounding yourself in the present moment, and the more you practice them, the easier and more natural it will become.
One of Sternlicht’s must-haves is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding method.
“Just think of five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. wandering mind ”to dwell on unnecessary and stressful thoughts.
10. Try a stress reliever.
Another strategy from Sternlicht, this liberating act can be done anytime you are worried about something.
“Stress is the result of ruminating thoughts. As such, a useful tool is to let them out and release them. I call it a stress dump, some may call it a brain dump, journaling, or list. The key here is to put a pen on some paper and start writing. You might want to write down the things that stress you out and why they stress you out, ”Sternlicht shares.
“There is a physiological and psychological release that occurs when we take this action to literally get thoughts out of our heads and put them on paper. It allows us to start separating our stress from being a part of us, and thus put some distance between ourselves and our stress, ”she continues, adding that seeing our worries on paper can also sometimes help us realize that we may have been overreacting or catastrophizing our concerns.
“Finally, sorting out our thoughts can also help us clear our heads and start going into solution mode and also become more organized with racing thoughts that we can feel,” she explains.
New York Post