Stress and anxiety are some of the most searched terms on Google. April is Stress Awareness Month, and the consensus is we have a long way to go before we eliminate stress from our lives.
Stress is a common experience for everyone, whether caused by positive events like planning a wedding or adverse events like being laid off from work. It can have physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension. It can even lead to serious health issues like cardiovascular disease. A vast majority of Americans, about 77%, report experiencing physical symptoms due to stress, while 33% feel they are living with extreme stress. Additionally, almost half of Americans, 48%, believe stress negatively impacts their personal and professional lives.
Here are seven tips to help you manage stress in your life.
Practice the Big Three – Eat, Move & Sleep
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep is crucial for a happy and healthy life and can also help manage stress effectively.
Eating a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods helps the body combat stress naturally. It’s recommended to avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine that can worsen the effects of stress, interfere with sleep and trigger anxiety.
Regular exercise is an excellent outlet to relieve stress and reduce blood pressure. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, jogging, and swimming are especially effective in managing stress. The recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week.
Proper sleep is essential in dealing with stressful situations and can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. Establishing a healthy sleeping routine involves turning off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed and incorporating a calming nighttime ritual such as reading or meditation. This routine will signal your mind to relax and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. (Heckman)
Learn How To Manage Stress
Managing stress is crucial for maintaining good mental and physical health. Long-term stress can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, headaches, stomach disorders, and depression.
Develop a vision for healthy living, wellness, and personal growth, and set realistic goals to help you achieve them. To overcome stressors that are out of your control, it’s important to recognize when you don’t have power and let it go. Avoid getting anxious about situations you cannot change, and focus on something that makes you feel calm and in control.
Here are some healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress:
- Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and giving yourself a break when stressed.
- Share your problems and feelings with someone you trust, like a family member, friend, doctor, pastor, or counselor.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol, which can create additional problems and increase stress.
- Recognize when you need more help, and don’t hesitate to talk to a psychologist, social worker, or counselor if necessary.
Effective communication is crucial in managing stress. Learn how to talk about your stressors with others and support anyone who comes to you with their issues. (Mort)
Take a Proactive Approach
Advocate for yourself and take charge of your well-being. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, assess your life and identify things that you can temporarily put aside until you feel ready to handle them. Make a list of stressful situations and determine which ones you can avoid or improve to manage their impact. (Heckman)
Discuss Your Problems
Talking through your problems can help you work through a stressful situation. Share your concerns with a trusted friend or family member who can provide support. If you need additional assistance, consider seeking guidance from a licensed professional who can equip you with valuable tools to cope with stressful scenarios positively. (Heckman)
Engage in Enjoyable Activities
Do something that pleases you. Whether taking a cooking class, starting an herb garden or learning a new skill, engaging in activities you enjoy creates a healthy outlet for relieving stress. Feel free to try something new, even if it’s just a short game of Solitaire. The most important thing is that it brings you joy.
It’s About Advocating for YOU
National Stress Awareness Month reminds us to prioritize our mental and physical health and take the necessary steps to reduce stress in our daily lives. By practicing healthy habits such as eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, as well as learning to overcome issues outside of our control, talking about our problems, and doing things we enjoy, we can effectively manage stress and improve our overall well-being.
Mort. “Welcome to Stress Awareness Month–April 1-30, 2023.” – Official Site, 7 Nov. 2022, stressawarenessmonth.com/.
Schultz, Catherine. “April Is National Stress Awareness Month: 7 TIPS for Reducing Stress.” BioIQ, 1 Apr. 2021, www.bioiq.com/7-tip-for-preventing-and-managing-stress/.
Heckman, William. “April Is Stress Awareness Month.” The American Institute of Stress, 7 Apr. 2021, www.stress.org/april-is-stress-awareness-month.