For many of us, there seems to be a constant and growing list of things to worry about. The recent pandemic, inflation, global conflict, the current political climate, etc. The list goes on and on, and that’s not even to mention our routine daily challenges!
According to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association, “Americans are struggling with multiple external stressors that are out of their personal control, with 27% reporting that most days they are so stressed they cannot function.”
Unfortunately, stress directly impacts one’s health. According to the same poll, 76% of adults reported they had experienced at least one symptom in the last month as a result of stress—such as headache (38%), fatigue (35%), feeling nervous or anxious (34%) and feeling depressed or sad (33%). Seven in 10 adults (72%) experienced additional symptoms in the last month, including feeling overwhelmed (33%), experiencing changes in sleeping habits (32%), and/or worrying constantly (30%).
What can we do? Unfortunately, many of us are still trying to discard bad habits picked up during the pandemic. And it’s become increasingly common for people to try to escape these daily stressors by simply zoning out online.
According to a recent NPR article, the antidote we need might be hiding in plain sight, and it involves building more fun into your life. The article suggests five ways to combat stress to improve your health:
1. Stop worrying about how happy you are
According to the article, “People who highly value happiness may end up feeling ‘disappointed about how they feel, paradoxically decreasing their happiness the more they want it,’ wrote the authors of a 2011 study in the journal Emotion. In contrast, fun is relatively easy to achieve yet many adults are conditioned to believe that it isn’t important, and experience very little of it.” Stop worrying and start focusing on finding fun activities – the ones where you lose track of time and positively boost your happiness in the process.
2. Find your “fun magnets”
Put your smartphone away and ask yourself some fun-related questions. What do you do to have fun? What people and activities are involved and where do they take place? Are there new and fun activities you’ve always wanted to try? If so, maybe now’s the time to start.
3. Put fun on the calendar
Schedule fun activities so they become a priority and you don’t end up missing them. It’s all too easy to get consumed by daily tasks. If you take the step of putting a fun activity on your calendar, you’re less likely to miss it. Think about when you schedule a vacation. According to the article, “People who take a vacation return to their work less stressed and possibly more creative, and the benefits could extend to smaller adventures.”
According to the article, “Most of us have control over at least two hours of our day for leisure activities, and some of us have up to five hours. But the average American uses up more than two hours on social media per day.” Consider using that time for a fun activity instead. Be present, reduce stress, have fun and make positive memories.
5. Share the fun and amplify it
Share your fun with your friends and family to amplify it. Creating and sharing a chain reaction of fun activities can only enhance the positive health benefits you’ll receive.