April is recognized as Stress Awareness Month, a national effort to provide information about the effects of stress on the body and successful coping strategies.
Whether experiencing positive stress like planning a fun activity or negative stress from a traumatic event, you have likely experienced anxiety or worry at some point. When these feelings interfere with carrying out daily activities for an extended period, the mind and body can be negatively impacted.
Recognizing the symptoms can provide a jump start on managing them. A few indications that stress is having a negative impact on your health may include:
- muscle tension
- chest pain
- difficulty sleeping
- lack of motivation
- feeling overwhelmed, angry or depressed
Try these effective tips to manage the stressors in your life:
Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, and try to avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, which can amplify stress and interfere with sleep.
Incorporate exercise in your routine. Rhythmic exercise such as walking, biking and swimming have proven to be healthy outlets for stress reduction. Aim for 150 minutes of activity throughout the week.
Learn how to relax. Although relaxing while stressed is not always easy, it is important to find the type of relaxation that fits into your lifestyle. Meditation and deep breathing techniques are great approaches for lowering stress levels and can be done just about anywhere. Try to find a quiet place without distractions to relax each day.
Try documenting your feelings on paper. If you have repetitive negative thoughts causing worry and anxiety, try writing them down. Getting the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper will alert your brain that the thought is safe and you no longer need to dwell on it.
- Talk to someone
Talking about your problems to a trustworthy friend or family member may be all you need to get through a difficult situation. A licensed professional can also provide useful tools to help process stressful circumstances in a positive manner.
- Smile more
Putting a smile on your face can boost your mood and create a more positive outlook for the day. Laughing is also a great way to beat stress and has been proven to be good for your health. Take some time for a laugh break by calling a friend or watching a funny movie to instantly boost your mood.
About the Author
Sherry Stick is the fitness and aquatics coordinator at Carroll Lutheran Village and has been working for CLV for nearly 20 years.