October 10 is World Mental Health Day, and at Fitbit, we’re helping you to learn more about mindfulness, stress management, and more through content that focuses on all things mental health. Click here for more blog posts in our Stress Week series.
Finding your sense of calm in the midst of these chaotic times can feel like no easy task—to say the least! But it’s also more important than ever to find healthy ways to manage the stress, anxiety, and worry of modern life, especially when that worry feels constant. In today’s world, “everyday stressors” may have taken on a life of their own, but that doesn’t mean we have to give in to a pervasive sense of dread.
Keep reading for some new and unique ways to manage your stress.
Create a more intentional to-do list. There are several ways to go about doing this. Some great examples include making a smarter to-do list—and really paying attention to how it feels. In fact, even just making a plan to accomplish goals (intentionally creating the to-do list itself), can help alleviate our sense of overwhelm at the thought of not yet getting them done. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that tasks we haven’t yet completed “persist in the mind”, or distract us—but just making a plan to move forward on our goals with purpose can help to alleviate that anxiety. Bonus points if you write up your to-do list the night before.
Don’t fight the sense of routine. Instead, choose to do everyday tasks more mindfully. It’s no secret that having a daily routine is good for your health—it can even help reduce anxiety. But at a time when many of us are still spending more time at home than ever, routine fatigue is real. Completing tasks—even if they’re just around the house—more mindfully can help with that. Yes, that means you can even do things like washing the dishes (and your hands!) with intention.
In his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, Buddhist monk and mindfulness teacher Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes to wash the dishes.” Instead of focusing on what we need to do next, it’s about taking things one step, or task, at a time.
You can enjoy, or at least pay conscious attention to, every aspect of cooking that healthy homemade meal—down to prepping the ingredients for your Spinach & Goat Cheese Salad. You can even turn going for your daily walk into a practice in mindfulness simply by being entirely present while doing so. Leave your phone at home, and try taking a different route than you normally would.
Get better sleep by improving your sleep hygiene. Although Fitbit data shows that users were sleeping more and getting better quality sleep during shelter-in-place orders, it’s important to keep up those healthy habits as many places around the world continue to open up. On the other hand, if you were or are currently having trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. Feeling stressed causes our body’s levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, to spike—which in turn may disrupt normal sleep patterns, and can result in sleep deprivation in both the short-term and the long-term.
Another way to help yourself fend off anxiety and worry over the stressors of these unprecedented times is to improve your sleep hygiene. Setting time limits on your social media scrolling before bed is a big one—but then again, many of us are aware of that tactic by now. One you may not have heard of? Trying out guided programs available in Fitbit Premium, like Get More Sleep or Habits for Restful Sleep.
Take part in an act of self-care every single day. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it’s crucial to focus on how you can better care for Y-O-U. That’s because self-care is known to improve wellbeing, and, according to a study in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, it can even lower morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs.
The good thing is that whether it’s meditating, going on a solo drive around your neighborhood, drawing a long and calming bath, or trying out a new virtual workout class—there are many self-care options to choose from. “Stress is a conversation that your body is having with you. When you experience stress, it is your body telling you that it is in need of something that it is not currently getting,” says certified Fitbit health coach and yoga and meditation teacher Kamilah McShine-Gregory. “When you take the time to notice these messages, then you can be intentional with how you bring your body back to a state of calm and relief.”
Self-care is also about creating resilience to stress. The same study pointed out that one of the current challenges to self-care in modern life is the “forming resilience in the face of stressful life events that interfere with self-care.” An integral part of that is noticing and intentionally addressing your body’s needs—whatever those may be on a given day. It’s a practice.
“The journey begins with the decision to take a moment to be mindful of your needs,” Kamilah says. “This deeper awareness continues with you as you navigate the stress you experience in your daily life.”
Use Fitbit’s mindfulness tools to build awareness of your emotional wellbeing. Deep diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol levels in the body. That’s where guided breathing sessions on the new Mindfulness Tile can come in. Now available to all users, the Mindfulness Tile focuses on giving you the tools to build a mindfulness practice—and de-stress in the process!—by recommending guided mindfulness, breathing and meditation exercises, and yoga sessions.
With tons of video and audio sessions to pick from, there’s something for everyone here. If you’re looking for energizing Morning Meditations or Relaxing Sounds to wind down at the end of your day, we’ve got you covered. There are also meditations geared specifically for sleep, stress, and even to boost body positivity. What’s not to love?
Plus, with the new Fitbit Sense, you can opt-in for a daily reminder to log your mood (as well as after mindfulness sessions). This is a new feature that will help you to build awareness of your emotional wellbeing, as well as give you an understanding of when you feel your best. You always have the option to reflect on your stress within the Stress Management Tile, a new tile exclusive to Sense. Learn more about it here.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.