Learn How to Manage Stress During National Stress Awareness Month

Stress. It’s behind that headache that never quite goes away, those cravings for junk food and caffeine, the angry words you uttered to a loved one. A little stress is a normal part of life – how else could we meet deadlines or work out? – but if we have too much, it can be detrimental to our health. Since April is National Stress Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to learn how to manage stress so it doesn’t overwhelm you! Follow these tips for a more relaxed life.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), common signs of stress include: headaches, trouble sleeping, jaw pain, changes in appetite, frequent mood swings, difficulty concentrating and feeling overwhelmed. Long-term exposure to stress increases the hormone, cortisol, which weakens your immune system and makes it easier to get sick. In addition, stress can make mental illness worse.

A report published in the Harvard Health Publishing stated that stress can also cause increased blood sugar and blood pressure, make people anxious or depressed, cause emotional symptoms such as crying and irritability and can create negative behaviors like smoking or overeating. In other words, most of life’s problems can be blamed on stress!

So how do you make this common-yet-annoying problem go away? The American Heart Association lists three main tips to manage stress: positive self-talk, emergency stress-stoppers and stress-busting activities.

Positive self-talk is simply turning the negative into the positive. For example, changing “I can’t do this” or “everything is going wrong” to “I will do the best I can” or “I just need to take one step at a time.” These uplifting thoughts can help you stay calm, which reduces stress.

Emergency stress-stoppers are quick things you can do to immediately banish a stressful situation. Some of these tips include taking deep breaths, going for a walk, listening to calm music, hugging a loved one or pet, or doing a quick meditation or prayer.

Stress-busting activities include doing something creative (painting or playing a musical instrument), reading, meeting a friend, playing a sport, taking your kids or pet outside, wash away stress in a relaxing bath, do a home improvement project or workout. You can take advantage of the many Corridor-based opportunities for stress relief, such as getting an invigorating massage or refreshing facial at Grand Spa, painting a picture at Pinot’s Palette or meeting a friend at one of the many restaurants in town.

NAMI offers additional tips, such as making a schedule so your days don’t feel so overwhelming, setting aside special time for yourself, eating well, getting enough sleep and avoiding alcohol when you’re stressed. If these tips don’t work for you, don’t be afraid to talk to a counselor for professional help.

Stop stress before it becomes overwhelming by incorporating these tips into your daily life. You’ll feel better, be happier and have a healthier life when you don’t let stress take control!


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