Is it a coincidence that National Stress Awareness Month is in April—the same month that taxes are due? We certainly don’t think so! Stress does have some positive aspects—according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it can motive people to prepare for a test or presentation, or even be life-saving (in a dangerous situation, stress is what prepares you for that “flight or fight” response).
Unfortunately, long-term or routine stress can lead to health complications like stomach issues, headaches, and an inability to sleep, to extremely serious issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
For National Stress Awareness Month, here are some basic tips that will help you to reduce stress:
- Talk to your doctor. If you are feeling stressed and it is causing you physical discomfort (like headaches or chest pains), visit your primary care doctor. He or she will be able to give you medical advice on how to alleviate your stress symptoms.
- According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise can reduce stress and fatigue, and can even improve concentration, alertness, and overall cognitive function. “If your body feels better, so does your mind,” ADAA says on their website. Start exercising to reduce stress by walking or jogging a half hour every day.
- Try yoga. Because yoga is a “mind-body practice” that “combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation,” according to Mayo Clinic, it may help reduce stress. Try it out by going to a session at a local yoga studio, or even see if your gym has a beginner’s yoga class that is included in your membership.
- Find a relaxing hobby. After work or on the weekends, take up a hobby that is enjoyable for you and will help you relax, whether it’s reading, playing golf, playing puzzles, painting, cooking, or crocheting.
- Use lavender. Lavender is a popular plant that is used for stress. Bring an essential oil with you to work and dab it on your wrist or temples whenever you feel stressed, or light a lavender candle at home when you want to wind down for the day.
- Talk to someone. According to the American Psychological Association, calling a friend and talking about your problems can help relieve stress. “It’s important that the person whom you talk to is someone whom you trust and whom you feel can understand and validate you,” the APA says. You don’t want to share your issues with someone who causes you more stress!
It’s important to work on your reducing your stress because you don’t want it to cause serious health concerns later! Take time out of National Stress Awareness Month to begin reducing your stress today, even if it’s a simple hobby or a walk around your neighborhood.