It’s not just tax season: April is National Stress Awareness Month! All kidding aside, stress can be good (a new job or house) or bad (financial strain, illness) but the key is to recognize how you are responding to your stressors and manage them. While that may seem simple enough, it’s imperative to deal with your stress before it can negatively impact your health.
As I’ve written before, it is well known that prolonged stress can contribute to heart disease, hypertension, a weakened immune system, and is linked to strokes. Stress increases the risk of ulcers, diabetes, muscle and joint pain, and cognitive issues. Managing your stress effectively can be the difference between life and death. Below, I offer tried and true suggestions for keeping your stress in check.
Be Positive. When you are in control of your thoughts, your ability to find solutions to difficult situations increases. Studies have shown that when you practice positive affirmations daily, your brain becomes rewired to look at situations differently. Your state of mind can have a significant impact on your physical well-being. For instance, if you believe that things are overwhelming, you will convince yourself that this is true. By repeating to yourself often, “I will not focus on things I cannot control” or “I have the power to make positive changes in my life,” you may find that you can better cope during a normally stressful situation. According to psychologists worldwide, self-affirmations activate the reward centers in the brain, which help people maintain balance in times of stress.
Nourish Your Body. Food is vital for your health and wellbeing. Food is our energy source and provides nutrients needed to grow and fight disease. Eating poorly can aggravate and increase stress. Make sure you are eating a healthy balanced diet most of the time. Prepare home-cooked meals and share meal time with family and friends.
Get Moving. Exercise plays a vital role in reducing stress. Even if you are not an athlete, a little regular activity can go a long way in managing stress levels. Exercise not only changes your body but improves your attitude and your mood.
Time Management is Your Friend. Time management is essential to managing the stress in your life. If you cannot master your time, you will become overwhelmed, and you may find that you become less productive. When you manage your time and set up a plan for the day/week to accomplish your tasks, you will find that you are more effective and feel better about what you have accomplished. Run your day so that it doesn’t run you.
Don’t Scrimp on Your Zzzzz’s. Waking up refreshed is essential to your health. There is nothing better than starting your day feeling like you are on top of the world. A good night’s sleep will allow you to cope better with any stress you face during your day. Like many Americans, you may find it difficult to sleep. It would help if you found ways to improve your sleep habits. Try a cup of Chamomile tea, which contains an antioxidant that promotes sleepiness before bed. Almonds have been known to promote sleep due to their melatonin levels. A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures for anything. (Irish Proverb).
Stress reduction can improve both your physical and mental health. So stop focusing on how overwhelmed you are and remember how blessed you are.