It’s been a stressful year for all of us. Coming off a years-long global pandemic, a contentious Presidential election, and a reincarnation of the civil rights movement can have quite the effect on society, and unto ourselves. One of those historical events alone brings enough change to cause stress, let alone all at once. Add on top of that all of the “things” that normally can bother us and it becomes a lot! So, now more than ever, it’s a good time to talk about stress.
Each year since 1992, the month of April has been dedicated to Stress Awareness. If you’re anything like me, you might be reading this thinking that you are well aware of your stress, so why dedicate an entire month to it?! Well, that’s because we need to bring awareness to what that stress can do to your body and mind, and ways to cope with it.
We all experience stress differently, but stress does share common elements. Meriam-Webster defines stress as a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. So when we’re stressed, some of us will feel some or all of those factors. It’s how we respond to those factors that will help us overcome and alleviate stress.
So, what better way to end the workweek than talking about how to identify and cope with stress.
What are the warning signs or symptoms of stress?
- Mental fog
- Change in appetite (or lack thereof)
- Substance abuse
- Neck & Shoulder tension
- Stomach & digestion problems
What are some ways to cope with this stress?
- Meditation – Try using an app for that! I use simplehabit.
- Breathing exercises and yoga
- Talk to someone about your stress – it could be family, a friend, a mentor, religious leader, or therapist.
- Practice Self-care by doing something kind for yourself
- Do something kind for others – Check out this short video on the science of kindness
- Make gratitude a priority – ake a list of things you’re grateful for and affirm your gratitude.
- Create a stress-free environment by decluttering
- Aromatherapy, such as diffusing essential oils like lavender or chamomile
- Fresh Air & Exercise (even small, frequent walks do wonders!)
- Get enough sleep
- Eat well and avoid processed/sugary foods
- Take a break
- Avoid consuming depressants like alcohol and drugs
- Learn to accept the things you cannot change
Coping with stress isn’t just a one-off thing. It’s something health experts say we should be mindful of all of the time. That’s because chronic stress can lead to serious health conditions, such as heart conditions, high blood pressure, stomach disorders, and depression. Stress isn’t just inconvenient, it’s unhealthy and can have lasting, devastating impacts on your health and possibly even the health of those around you. We encourage you to be mindful of stress and practice these methods in pursuit of a healthier life.
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April is Stress Awareness Month – The American Institute of Stress
How to Deal With Stress: 14 Ways to Cope | Health.com
Tips for Coping with Stress|Publications|Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC
Research from USC experts shows link between gratitude and health