Hey everyone! I can't believe this year is coming to an end! I had an amazing time this year posting research and looking at all of your interesting topics too! This is my third and final round of research for my inquiry question: "What does a healthy lifestyle consist of, and how do we maintain one?" This round, I will be focusing on stress, ways to deal with stress, and social media and its effect on our lives. This round will focus on a mental well-being that ties into a healthy lifestyle. It's important to keep these things in mind to help you when situations in your life may get tense or hard.
What is stress?
Stress is a feeling of nervousness, pressure or anxiety.
This can be caused by many different parts of your life, like arguments, work, new routines, presentations and much more. During these times, you can have different physical symptoms like changes in your behaviour, and different types of emotions than what's normal. Stress can have different impacts on different people physically and emotionally. It's normal for everyone to be stressed, but you need to recognize when it is taking a toll on your life and find ways to relieve it. (1)
Some signs to look for when you are stressed:
- feelings of constant worry or anxiety
- feelings of being overwhelmed
- difficulty concentrating
- mood swings or changes in your mood
- irritability or having a short temper
- difficulty relaxing
- low self-esteem
- eating more or less than usual
- changes in your sleeping habits
- using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs to relax
- aches and pains, particularly muscle tension
- diarrhea and constipation
- feelings of nausea or dizziness
Stress isn't always bad for our bodies. Sometimes it can help us to perform better and make us do the best we can. Stress can help to make us stay focused, energized, and more alert. Rising to meet challenges, stress can help to ensure we stay alert in a presentation we are giving, or it makes you work harder when studying for a test when you would rather be doing something else entirely. Stress is also how our bodies respond to threats. (2)
Ways to deal with stress:
Eat healthy: Studies have showed that food affects your mood, eating healthy can improve it, and help you stay stress free.
Exercise: this is a great way to relieve stress, because getting fresh air and being out in the open can take your mind off of what is causing you stress.
Make time for yourself: Try and find a good balance between work and studying responsibilities and time for relaxing and doing things you enjoy.
Get good sleeps: When you are stressed, sometimes it is hard to sleep at night. Try and make some useful changes to your lifestyle to help get better sleeps, which will help to improve your mood and be more attentive during the day.
Use more of your senses: engage more of your senses like smell, taste, touch, sight.
Connect with others: talk face-to-face with others to help relieve stress. When you talk about your feeling it helps.
Be realistic: don't put so much pressure on yourself, no one is perfect and we all make mistakes, so don't let it stress you out.
Focus on the most important things: if you are feeling super busy and have too many things on your plate, consider picking the activities and things that are most important to you so you don't wear yourself down.
More stress strategies include:
- One strategy to help relieve stress is to tense your muscles in a different area each time like your calves, thighs, arms, shoulders, jaw etc. Relax them by releasing the tension.
- The point of this exercise is to feel tension leave your body as you un-tense those muscles each time.
- Deep breathing can help to calm us down when highly tense and stressed.
- Take a deep breath to fully expand your chest, hold for 3-5 seconds, and then breath out all at once. Repeat this as many times as needed.
- With your eyes closed, focus on breathing in and the air entering your nose.
- Then, when you breath out, focus on the air passing back out.
- Repeat several times, or as much as needed.
- In a stressful situation, imagine a place in your mind (with your eyes closed) and picture yourself there. This should be a place where you know you would feel fully relaxed.
- Continue to picture yourself in that place using all your senses to imagine what it what smell, sound, feel, taste, and look like.
- Whenever you need to regroup and calm down, this can be a great way to take a "mini-vacay"!
These strategies may sound a little silly or weird at first, but in situations where you need to calm yourself down, it's a really good idea to use these techniques to help do that.
As we grow older and take on more responsibilities, it's important to be emotionally in check. These are more ways that can help you stay mentally healthy:
1. Value yourself:
It's important to respect yourself and know that you will make mistakes in life. Don't get down on yourself because you are upset. Make time for your favorite hobbies and things to do.
2. Surround yourself with people that will encourage you:
When you have strong connections with friends and family, you have more people you trust that you can turn to when you need them. Always try to meet new people by joining clubs or groups that you are interested in to help you.
3. Set goals for yourself:
Set different goals that relate to you academically, personally, and socially. Make these goals realistic and things that you know you can achieve if you work hard enough for it. Work for the accomplishment and stay dedicated to achieving it.
How can social media be affecting your life? Is it causing negative or positive impacts? These are some ways that social media may be causing more harm than good to your lifestyle and mental health, and it's important to recognize these things and know when to find a good balance that works for you!
40% of the world's population uses social media. Most of us spend an average of up to 2 hours a day using these different apps and websites. As we continue to incorporate and make social media a bigger part of our lives, it could be affecting our mental health and lifestyle.
Sleep: With all the artificial light from our screens, this is causing our bodies to reduce the production of melatonin in our bodies, a hormone that helps us to fall asleep. To further explain this, basically if you are in bed on your phone scrolling your social media, you will not fall asleep as easily as if you were to read a book before bed. The blue light from our phones has a role to play regardless, whether you are on social media or doing other things on your phone, like playing games.
Addiction: Studies have shown that social media addiction is real and affects your mental health. The long hours people continually spend glued to their screens has said to be connected to relationship problems, becoming academically worse, and less socializing and participation in real live events. Those who could be potentially more addicted to social media than others, are those who are highly extroverted, and those who use social media to make up for less ties to people in real life.
Self-esteem: according to a survey done by disability charity Scope, social media sites make more than half the users feel unattractive. Additionally, a 2016 study done at Penn state University found that when people viewed other people's selfies, it lowered their self-esteem because they would compare themselves to the people in the photos. Another study found that women who spend bigger amount of time on Facebook were found to be less happy and confident in themselves because they would compare their lives to other people's more successful careers and happier relationships. This would make them feel less successful and unhappy as a result.
Well-being: social media has been found to negatively and positively affect our well-being. One study in 2013 found that the more time people spend on the site, the worse they would feel later on because of it. However, more research has showed that social media can boost our well-being, because for some who are more emotionally unstable, posting about their feelings has helped them to receive support and feel better. All in all, social media can have a bigger negative impact on those of us who are more socially isolated from others.
Relationships: not only social media, but the fact that phones in general can interrupt conversations and interactions we have with others. When you have a phone that you are eager to go on, it sometimes takes away a chance to have a meaningful conversation with someone because one of the people in that conversation can be distracted by the presence of an electronic device. This can strain relationships, and essentially make it harder to get to know people.
Well that's all for this round! I tried to make this post a little smaller, since my last two posts have been quite extreme! I hope you all learned some pointers to deal with stress. I think this was the perfect time to post this information given that most of us have some sort of tests or finals coming up in the next couple weeks of school here! Hopefully these strategies and tips will help you in a case where you're feeling a little overwhelmed! Don’t forget to always comment and note any suggestions you may have🙂