April Is Stress Awareness Month

Beginning in 1992, Stress Awareness Month was created to raise awareness about stress and anxiety, attempting to help those continuously struggling with these negative emotions. While all of us experience different forms of stress at some point, many Americans deal with chronic stress. And without effective treatment and/or stress management skills, chronic stress can be debilitating, preventing you from being productive and enjoying all that life has to offer.

What Is Stress?

Although we are all familiar with the word, it can be hard to clearly define what stress is. Simply put, stress is your brain and body’s response to external stimuli such as traumatic events, challenges, and changes in your life. Stress often relates to your fight-or-flight response, determining how you react when a potentially troubling scenario presents itself.

stressed out business woman sitting in front of office building

Coping With and Defeating Stress

When dealing with stress, there are a variety of healthy ways to cope with it and potentially alleviate the negative impact it can have on your mind and body.

Stress Management Techniques

If you take practical steps to manage your stress, you may reduce the risk of negative health effects. Here are some tips that may help you to cope with stress:

 

  • Be observant. Recognize the signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
  • Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and improve your health.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy and relaxing activities.
  • Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
  • Stay connected. You are not alone. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help. To reduce stress, ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations.

National Institute of Mental Health

older men and women practicing Yoga breathing exercises outdoors

Fighting Chronic Stress

If you suffer from chronic stress and can’t influence or change the situation, then you’ll need to change your approach. Be willing to be flexible. Remember, you have the ability to choose your response to stressors, and you may have to try various options.

 

  • Recognize when you don’t have control, and let it go.
  • Don’t get anxious about situations that you cannot change.
  • Take control of your own reactions and focus your mind on something that makes you feel calm and in control. This may take some practice, but it pays off in peace of mind.
  • Develop a vision for healthy living, wellness, and personal growth, and set realistic goals to help you realize your vision.

Federal Occupational Health

What Works for You?

The most effective stress management techniques will vary depending on your unique traits. Methods that work for a friend of yours may not necessarily be the best option for you. If one technique does not work, try practicing another. Eventually you will find the best ways to personally approach stress in order to achieve overall well-being.

 
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