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Today, Monday July 24th, it’s International Self-Care Day. It’s about taking care of your mental and physical health so you can be the best and happiest you can be. One way to practice self-care is to reduce your stress levels. The 2022 American Institute of Stress (AIS) study found that Americans are one of the most stressed out people in the world and if you wanted to know the most stressed state, it would be Louisiana. When it comes to work-related stress, 35% of workers cited their boss as a source of stress, 80% of workers cited ineffective company communications as a stressor, and 39% cited their workload as the cause.
If you’ve been feeling burnt out or less efficient at work lately, you may be suffering from burnout, a state of emotional and physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged stress. In the spirit of International Self-Care Day, let’s step back and talk about ways to reduce stress in general. While you may be used to soldiering, we’re here to help you lift your mood, deal with your burnout, and take better care of yourself.
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What are the symptoms of stress?
There are many symptoms of stress, both physical and mental. Mental symptoms include becoming easily agitated, feeling overwhelmed, having difficulty eating, low self-esteem, and avoiding others. Physical symptoms include low energy, headache, stomach pain (diarrhea, constipation, nausea), insomnia, chest pain, flu, nervousness, dry mouth and teeth grinding.
What is burnout?
Burnout describes the effects of severe stress over a long period of time, often in a work setting. It can lead to physical and mental symptoms, including:
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
- Alienation from activities
- Reduced performance in the workplace
These are just a few of the many symptoms related to burnout in the workplace. Knowing all the possible symptoms can put you in a better position to deal with your burnout.
Ways to practice self-care for International Self-Care Day 2023
Focus on eating healthier
An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away. The way we eat plays a big part in how we feel and stress is no exception in this regard. Studies show that stress can lead to overeating and weight gain. This in turn can stress you further and make you eat even more. One way to break this cycle is to eat healthier, more nutritious meals. That said, eating healthier is often easier said than done. After a long and stressful day at work, many of us would rather order something quickly than spend time preparing a meal.
Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice convenience for health. CookUnity is our favorite prefab delivery service. CookUnitys offers a variety of delicious dishes that you can filter using categories like keto and vegan.
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep
After a long day, there’s nothing like a good night’s rest to recharge for the day ahead. Sleep is essential for our well-being: people who consistently sleep less than eight hours are more often demotivated, lethargic, irritable and stressed. These symptoms are all related to stress, so getting enough sleep can make you feel more relaxed.
We’ve tested countless mattresses on Review and found the original Tuft and Needle mattress to be the best overall. Whether you sleep on your side or tend to sleep on your back, Tuft and Needle’s affordable mattress helps you rest comfortably thanks to its foam that quickly conforms to the shape of your body.
Next up: your pillow. You can’t get a good night’s sleep without a good pillow and you can’t go wrong with the Original Pillow from Coop Home Goods. We’ve tested it ourselves and we love that it lets you fill it with as much or as little shredded memory foam to suit your needs. Plus, it’s machine washable.
Everyone knows what pillows and mattresses feel like, but what about weighted blankets? If you haven’t tried them yet, you should swear by their calming properties and sleep aid. The Gravity Blanket is pricey, but it more than earns its price due to its luxurious feel and great weight distribution that left our testers feeling comfortable and calm.
$745 from Tuft & Needle $72 from Amazon $250 from Gravity
Move your body with exercise
Exercise is another form of self-care that can be used to treat the effects of stress, as moving around can take your mind off worries. Exercise is good for your health, so it’s important to set aside some time in the day to get your body moving, particularly if your job is mostly sedentary. You can even practice at your desk if you like.
If you are going for a run, it is highly recommended that you wear the right shoes. With the right kind of running shoe on, every step can feel like a smooth glide. For women’s shoes, we recommend Nike’s Air Zoom Pegasus 39 which offer better bounce when running than their predecessor. For men’s shoes, we recommend the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11 running shoes, which are cushioned with breathable materials to help the shoe flex and stretch as you run. Before you start exercising, make sure you take the proper steps to prevent heat exhaustion when exercising outdoors.
$77 from Nike $135 from Amazon
For those looking to stay indoors while exercising, consider a stationary bike. The Peloton+ bike is our favorite with a simple assembly process, easy adjustment, and plenty of on-demand lessons to help you start your journey to health.
Whatever exercise you’re looking to do, a fitness tracker will help keep you on track towards your goal. The Fitbit Charge 5 is our favorite since it’s comfortable, easy to use, and tracks a lot of data—you can check calories burned, average pace for a run, and even how well you slept. Plus, it tracks stress levels by measuring electrical changes in your skin, meaning it’s the perfect tool to see how your burnout is improving.
$2495 from Peloton $120 from Amazon
Change your perspective with yoga and meditation
Often, mental issues like stress and anxiety can be alleviated by changing your perception of the world and your role in it. Mindfulness meditation emphasizes attention and acceptance to achieve a state of positivity and calmness which has been linked to reduced stress and burnout. It can be difficult for beginners, but there are apps that can help you get started. Headspace is our favorite meditation app, and once you try it, you’ll quickly understand why we love it so much. The app wastes no time in getting you into a meditative mindset and offers a wide variety of programs that will help you become more mindful. We also like that the program lets you adjust the length of your meditation session and offers wellness-focused videos. Headspace can even help you fall asleep.
Try 14 days free on Headspace
Yoga is a form of self-care that combines meditation with low-intensity exercises that focus on breathing and posture to reduce stress levels. For those looking to give yoga a try, the Alo Moves app is a great place to start. It’s our favorite yoga app, offering a wide variety of yoga styles and teachers, and even customizes suggested workouts for each user. Not to mention that it’s easy to use and its rich content more than justifies its price.
Try 14 days free on Alo Moves
To do yoga properly, you will need at least the right equipment, you will need a yoga mat. Even if you already have a mat, it might be time to replace it with a new one. Lululemon’s “The Mat” has everything you could ever want in a yoga mat. It’s large, provides the perfect amount of softness, and is easy to clean. You may want additional accessories, such as the yoga blocks offered by Gaiam. They hold their shape, provide a solid grip and are soft to the touch.
$98 from Lululemon $11 from Amazon
Consider other forms of self-care
There are many ways to relax and relieve stress. One way is through the art of massage. You can treat yourself to a great massage using a handy foot bath. We’ve tested many foot spas and found that Ivation’s foot spa massager is the best overall thanks to its features like adjustable heat, massaging rollers, water jets, and a timer.
$90 from Amazon
Why settle for just soaking your feet when you can treat your whole body? Soaking in a long bath is a proven way to reduce stress. With a bath bomb, you can level up your next bath session and rest assured that it will leave you feeling like you’re in the lap of luxury. They are fun, fragrant and quite affordable. We especially recommend the LifeAround2Angels bath bombs. Not only do they smell and look great, but they also actually moisturize your skin without staining your tub or towel.
$27 from Amazon
While you’re at it, surround yourself with the comforting aroma of essential oils to help you relax. We love Saje Aroma Oum out of all the diffusers we’ve tested. It has an attractive design, is easy to use and is made of high quality materials.
$106 from Saje
When you go to bed, we recommend using the Renpho Eye Massager, which will help relieve eye strain to give you an easier time when falling asleep.
$61 from Amazon
When you’re done with your self-care ritual, put on a cozy robe and try to focus your mind on positive things. An adult coloring book is a great way to keep your mind active and distract you from worrying thoughts. Cindy Elsharouni’s Stress Relief Coloring Book for Adults is a great choice, with over 60 amazing designs that you can fill in (even if you don’t have the best coloring skills). Another practice that people swear by is gratitude journaling. Our tester found the gratitude journal to improve sleep and overall happiness just by writing down the things she’s grateful for. While you may purchase a new journal, you probably already have one at home that will be perfect for work.
$128 from Amazon $7 from Amazon
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