April is Stress Awareness Month
Stress seems like an inevitable part of life. The demands of work, home, and society can place a lot of stress on just about anyone. Stress is our mental, physical, and behavioral response to anxiety-producing events. Different events trigger different stresses for different people. Also, several stressors combined (called precipitating factors) can increase your stress level exponentially. Too much stress can cause problems on the job, health issues, and psychological issues.
When you’re faced with a stressful situation, remember the three A’s to help you through it. First, look at how you can alter the situation to make it less stressful. If that’s not possible, is there a way that you can avoid it? And if all else fails, put a smile on your face, accept it, and give yourself some positive self-talk.
A toolkit of personal skills can help you manage stress. Being flexible and managing change is one way that we can reduce the effect of stress on our lives. Another tool is managing anger and coping with worry.
Consider using some of these techniques to minimize or alleviate stress:
- Humor: In the heat of a stressful situation, it can be hard to step back and apply humor to a situation. But have you ever noticed how many comedy routines play back stories about misfortune, anger, and misery in a way that makes us laugh? When we use humor as a way to manage and release stress, we can diminish its effects on ourselves.
- Relaxation techniques:
- Breathe deeply – close your eyes, relax your body and take ten or more deep breaths
- Visualize – use positive imagery to replace thoughts of negativity
- Music – use the power of music to soothe or energize
- Nutrition: Aim for a balanced diet, limit caffeine and drink plenty of water.
- Exercise: Make a goal of exercising for at least 20 minutes three time a week.
- Sleep: experts recommend that we get eight hours of sleep a night. However, everyone is different – some people feel that six hours is adequate, while others feel they need ten to 12 hours. Figure out what works for you and aim for that amount every night. Just as important as the quantity of sleep, is the quality of your sleep. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and comfortable. Try to prevent it from being too hot or cold when you go to bed – use a fan or add extra blankets.
- Re-energize: Make the most of your vacations. When scheduling vacations, make sure you have a few days’ break between your return to home and your return to work. And while you’re on vacation, try not to pack too much into your schedule so that you have time to relax.
- Relax: Engage in activities that provide relaxation for you. If you prefer to be outdoors try to engage in activities that get you outside more. If you enjoy cooking carve out time in your schedule to practice new recipes or new ways of cooking.
- Review what stresses you: Take a good look at what causes you stress and ask yourself if it is worth getting stressed over those things.