April is National Stress Awareness Month
Signs you’re under too much stress:
- Headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, or insomnia
- Breathlessness, panic, worry
- Weight gain or loss of appetite
- Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses
- Loss of confidence, negativity, and irritability
- Withdrawing from responsibilities
- Impaired judgment and restlessness
Stress will always be a part of life. Fighting or attempting to eliminate it will not reduce or prevent it. The only way to beat stress is to address it head-on.
Mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-regulation are key to being intentional in our stress management.
- Mindfulness. Being present allows us to be aware of our feelings, stress level, and needs in the moment. When we are mindful in stressful situations, we can assess how we feel and determine what we need to resolve the stress.
- Self-awareness. When expectations in life start to feel overwhelming, just noticing feelings is a critical first step. Acknowledging everyday stressors, triggers, and personal limitations prepares us to handle challenges better.
- Self-regulation. By accepting our feelings and needs, we are capable of responding in the most appropriate way.
There are many approaches and coping mechanisms that can significantly help reduce and prevent stress. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Journal. Take time to reflect and release how you feel and what you need. Learn from yourself and set up a plan to help you thrive.
- Self-care. Figure out what types of self-care you need. Listen to music, read your favorite book, take a hot bath, get a massage, watch a movie, or spend time outside. Do the things you love or start a new hobby.
- Practice gratitude, meditation, or prayer. These are proven to relax the mind. Start or end your day with 5 minutes of reflection and some deep breaths. Mind your spiritual health. Those who feel like they have a sense of purpose in life fare better than those who don’t.
- Unplug. Stress can follow up everywhere. Turn off your phone, avoid email, and unplug the TV. Take time each day to escape from the world.
- Establish boundaries. You can only do so much each day. Say “no” to things that are not necessary. Poor boundaries amplify stress and burnout.
- Nurture your body. Eat nutrient-dense foods, stay hydrated and exercise. Exercise pumps endorphins through your veins, which can improve your mood. A brisk 30-minute walk each day will do wonders.
- Prioritize sleep and rest. Your body and mind both need rest to renew. Take time off work to intentionally relax and recharge.
- Have a support system. Share your struggles with trusted friends and family. Consider going to a counselor who can help you work through grief or other significant issues. If needed, medication can make a huge difference for your mental health.
- Educate yourself. Learn how stress may be affecting you here, or discover new stress management tips here.