National Stress Awareness Month
April is National Stress Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness about the negative impacts of stress on our bodies. While there is no single definition for stress, it most commonly appears as physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension. Stress can be caused by positive events in a person’s life (like buying a house or studying for a big exam) or by adverse events in a person’s life (like trauma or illness). Everyone has some stress; long-term stress can harm physical and mental health if not managed properly.
To combat stress, we must first be able to identify symptoms of stress. Stress can cause mental health issues, illnesses, problems at work, and strains on a person’s relationships with friends and family. Long-term stress can be more challenging to identify in teens, mainly because regular hormone changes in teens often cause changes in mood and increased irritability. Some other signs of possible long-term stress include anger, sustained changes in behavior, trouble sleeping, neglecting responsibilities or personal hygiene, eating changes, and frequent illness. If you or a loved one has difficulty managing stress and its effects, contact a doctor for help. While most stress can be managed with simple diet, exercise, and routine changes, some people need additional support from a doctor or counselor – and that’s okay!
Tips to Tame Stress (MayoClinic.org):
#1. Practice yoga, meditation, or music. These are very effective ways to deal with stress, learn how to silence the mind, and breathe deeply.
#2. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
#3. Exercise. Whether you’re a jogger, cyclist, or just like to take long walks, getting fresh air and exercise into your daily routine can drastically reduce stress.
#4. Get plenty of rest. You can’t help others if you are running on empty!
#5. Avoid habits that can harm your health, like drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, smoking, overeating, or using illegal substances. Start a journal to keep track of bad habits and set a weekly goal to track your progress towards reducing these habits.
#6. Don’t isolate yourself! Spend time with your friends and family.
#7. Learn to say “no.” It’s okay to take time for yourself! Practice delegating tasks to others, asking a friend for help, or simply making fewer commitments to others. Carve out this time in your schedule to do something that calms you down and helps you re-focus and re-center!