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Psychologists say Americans were stressed in 2023. Here are 3 ways I'm unwinding in the new year.

Lauren Edmonds   

Psychologists say Americans were stressed in 2023. Here are 3 ways I'm unwinding in the new year.
  • A survey by the American Psychological Association found that Americans were very stressed in 2023.
  • I'm personally determined to de-stress in 2024.

Americans were stressed in 2023.

It's not a shocking statement, but data from the American Psychological Association's Stress in America 2023 survey published in November drove the point home.

"When reviewing this year's survey data, APA psychologists widely agreed there is mounting evidence that our society is experiencing the psychological impacts of a collective trauma," the survey's report said.

According to the report, factors like the COVID-19 pandemic, global conflict, racism, racial injustice, inflation, and climate-related disasters all contributed to Americans' anxiety last year.

The mental and emotional strain can feel inescapable, but I'm determined to leave it behind as we kick off 2024.

Here are three ways I'm fighting stress this year.

In 2024, I'm going to be kinder to myself by silencing my inner critic

Psychology Today reported that when people are faced with hardships, some will experience mild self-criticism and may navigate the situation with self-compassion. On the other hand, some people will have an "unfriendly" inner voice that creates negative thoughts and distorts their perception of things.

Unfortunately, I've fallen into the nasty habit of listening to my inner critic's meanest jabs, which can prompt stress, feelings of imposter syndrome, bouts of depression, and stifling anxiety.

"While having a critical inner voice is common, for many people, such a voice is so normal that they don't even notice it. Instead, they frequently find themselves in a depressed or anxious mood," the outlet reported.

So in 2024, I'm going to be gentler with myself.

One way I've started this resolution is by writing dozens of affirmations and putting them in a mini terracotta bowl I've decorated. When I'm feeling stressed or unsure, I can pull from the bowl and remind myself of all my amazing qualities.

I'm also exploring new passions like golf and dance to keep me on my toes

Having outlets is so essential to feeling whole, calm, and happy.

I realized in 2023 that it was time to grow and adopt some new hobbies because my usual interests — like sketching — weren't challenging me anymore.

So, I took the Marie Kondo approach. Do these activities spark joy? The answer is no, so I'm setting them aside for the time being while I explore new interests like golfing.

I'm also beginning to dance, which I've been insecure about since I was a kid. Fortunately, I'm beginning to care less the older I get.

I'm still slightly concerned that I look like a flailing baby giraffe when I learn choreography, but I've enjoyed practicing each step and mastering different moves.

Reducing screen time in 2024 is a must

This is a popular resolution, but I hope to spend less time looking at my phone and more time doing things I love in the new year.

This resolution is tricky for me since I'm a reporter who spends much of her day typing stories on my laptop and making phone calls, but I recognize how important it is for my mental health.

Last January, psychologist Olivia Brouillette told Business Insider that she believed screen addiction would be officially recognized as a form of addiction among psychologists in the future.

"I do see this as becoming more of a legitimate addiction in the coming years and could see it being added to the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] and ICD [International Classification of Diseases]," Brouillette told BI. "I see this type of screen addiction with people of all ages, both professionally and personally."

Going forward, I'm going to intentionally schedule time away from my laptop, cellphone, and TV.

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