Time to Take Care During Stress Awareness Month
If you’re like most people, you deal with your own fair share of stress on a daily basis. In our busy, productivity-obsessed culture, being “stressed out” has become something we not only experience, but at times embrace and glorify. While some degree of stress is unavoidable in our lives, chronic stress can negatively impact our health. Stress sends our blood pressure soaring, causes our hearts to work harder, and fills our bodies with stress hormones. Chronic, long-term stress increases the risk of experiencing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Whether it’s a challenging academic course load, a difficult commute, mounting bills, or problems in relationships, stress is a part of life we really can’t get away from completely. But there are things we can do to reduce the negative effects of stress on our minds and bodies.
Sometimes stress comes from wanting to control everyone and every event in our lives. This is a natural human desire, but the reality is that it simply isn’t possible. Try asking yourself, “Is this something I can control?’ and “What do I need to do about this right now?” Recognizing you don’t have control over everything can bring profound relief.
Taking slow, deep breaths gets you out of fight or flight mode and puts you into rest and digest mode. Our bodies cannot heal and repair when we are in constant states of fight or flight, as we are when we are chronically stressed. Whenever you feel stressed, take three deep, slow breaths in… hold it for a count of three… and exhale slowly through your mouth. This type of breathing signals to your nervous system that you are safe, and helps to calm the physiological symptoms of stress (like a faster heart rate.) Practicing deep breathing in times of stress helps you to integrate this as a go-to skill.
Make Self-Care a Priority
When we’re stressed it’s easy to make unhelpful lifestyle choices that can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes. Be sure to make self-care a priority by eating right, drinking plenty of pure water, and getting enough sleep and exercise each day. If you recognize that you are regularly turning to substances such as alcohol or cannabis to turn off the stress of the day, that may be an indication that it’s time to learn and practice some new, healthier ways of coping.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to calm your mind and keep it peaceful throughout the day. There are plenty of Youtube videos and meditation apps that will help you begin your practice.
April is Stress Awareness Month, so this is a great time to check in with yourself about your stress levels. If you feel you need help in managing your stress, please reach out to us today for a free phone consultation! We specialize in helping young adults and college students better manage stress and anxiety.