Stress Awareness Month: 7 Stress Busters to Help Everyone Cope & Thrive by Dr. Laura Purdey
April is National Stress Awareness Month, making it a great time to put long-term stress in the spotlight. It's an issue that impacts millions of us and can have dire consequences if it goes unchecked. Having a strategy and prioritizing stress management is crucial to improving stress reactions and living a higher quality of life. The good news is that we can do plenty of things to help keep stress in check.
There are times when stress is going to be there no matter what, and it may be unavoidable, but we have to take steps to minimize the impact it has on our lives. If you don't give stress the attention it needs, it can impact your health, and then you will be forced to prioritize that potentially bigger problem.
According to the National Institutes of Health, stress that lasts a long time can harm your health. Some ways it can impact one's health include weakening the immune system, so people get sick more often, have digestion problems or trouble sleeping and headaches. Stress has also been linked to the development of such severe conditions as depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
The key is learning how to cope with the stress so that it won't have a long-term impact. Here are seven stress busters to help everyone manage and thrive:
- Make self-care a priority. Most people, especially women, are busy taking care of the needs of everyone around them yet neglect their self-care. That needs to change so that self-care becomes a priority.
- Do a self-evaluation. Think about what is missing and what needs to change, and then move toward that. If it's something that needs to be added, then work toward adding it. If it's something that needs to be removed, then make that happen.
- Engage in self-calming activities. Daily, do at least 10 to 15 minutes of a calming activity you enjoy. This can be yoga, meditation, journaling or simply sitting on the back porch listening to the birds. Shut everything out and only do that one thing.
- Be sure to exercise regularly. While you have repeatedly heard about the importance of being physically active, it has to be said. Being physically active helps to melt away stress and improve quality of life. Keep moving!
- Be mindful of consumption. This goes not only for what you eat that may make you feel better or worse but what you listen to, watch on television, read, etc. At times, social media and news, for example, can make people feel more stressed or even depressed.
- Pace yourself. Everyone is in a hurry for everything, and all that does is lead to more stress. Learn to say no, go slow, plan ahead and avoid the rush.
- Treat yourself. If the funds allow for it, get a massage once a month. Research studies find that massages help to reduce stress and anxiety and are positive for one's mental health.
Making stress reduction a priority will go a long way toward keeping you healthier and happier. April is a great time to decide to start addressing long-term stress. By summer, you will see what an impactful difference it makes in the quality of your life.
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