Stress Relief Strategies—Limit Screen Time, Enjoy Nature
Strategy 4: Enjoy Nature
Spending time outdoors, especially in nature, offers all sorts of benefits, like lowering stress and heart rate, or clearing your thoughts.
Time magazine reported on a study about nature’s ability to revitalize us. According to the study, “People began to feel psychologically restored after just 15 minutes of sitting outside in both the park and forest.”13
It’s hard to feel happy if we feel constantly drained and stressed. Try to get outside for a half hour or so most days of the week, more if you can manage it. Why not get out and enjoy it a little more often?
Strategy 5: Limit Screen Time
Too much screen time isn’t good for our happiness. The time you spend staring at a TV screen, computer, tablet, or phone adds up and can have negative effects on our mental health, especially when it comes to social media. Best-selling author Jean M. Twenge, who studied this topic extensively, explains: “The more time [people] spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.”14
President has said, “If you are paying more attention to feeds from social media than you are to the whisperings of the Spirit, then you are putting yourself at spiritual risk—as well as the risk of experiencing intense loneliness and depression.”15 Nelson
So go ahead, give yourself some time away from your screens. You’ll thank yourself later.
Strategy 6: Be in the Present
If you’re human, there’s a roughly 100 percent chance you’ve said or done something you wish you hadn’t. Most likely, a lot of somethings. What’s odd, though, is how often most people choose to relive such moments in their mind.
“Miserable people have a recycle bin full of past mistakes. Every day they rethink their regrets and recycle their remorse. Their language is full of phrases like, ‘I should’ve,’ ‘I would’ve,’ ‘I could’ve,’ ‘Why didn’t I?’ and ‘If only.’ They never look where they’re going because they can’t take their eyes off where they’ve been.”16 ~John Bytheway
John Bytheway also writes about the complementary problem of dwelling too much on the future: “Miserable people look for some outside event to make them happy. ‘As soon as I graduate, I’ll be happy.’ After they graduate, they say, ‘Well, as soon as I get a job, I’ll be happy.’ After they get a job, they say, ‘Okay, as soon as I get married, I’ll be happy.’ … If you’re determined to be miserable, then think of life as a waiting room, and happiness as your doctor.”17
We tend to find the greatest happiness and well-being when we live in and focus on what’s happening in our lives right now.
In mental health and psychiatry circles, the term “mindfulness” is a shorthand way of describing being fully engaged in the moment.
Mental health experts advise, “Fears and insecurities about the past and the future can make it difficult to fully enjoy the present.”18
Here are a few tips to practice living with mindfulness:
- Keep a gratitude journal (see strategy 3 above)
- Spend time meditating daily. Find a peaceful spot to sit without distractions. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. If thoughts come, acknowledge them, release them, then return to focusing on your breathing. This may sound odd, but it’s great mental practice for focusing on the present.
- Pay closer attention to mundane tasks you normally do on auto-pilot, like washing the dishes, driving, or even eating. Feel the soapy water over your hands. Observe the trees, people, and buildings as you drive. Savor the taste and texture of each bite.
- Pray to notice people who need your help that day. Then pay close attention and be prepared to act.
- Switch up your routines from time to time and truly experience a new route home, the unfamiliar layout of a different grocery store, or a change in your typical evening activities.