Stress Less: National Stress Awareness Month
April is National Stress Awareness Month and there is no better way to celebrate it than to take stock of your current stress and take care of yourself! The pandemic has taken the concept of universality to a new level. We have all been universally impacted by the pandemic. This has caused many to feel in a state of chronic stress; in addition to managing individual or family stressors.
So, how stressed are you?
Stress is part of life. There is “bad” stress and “good” stress. Each of us respond differently to sudden or chronic stress. An example of bad stress could be losing your job. An example of good stress could be a new job. Often attitude and perspective influences stress and your perception of “being stressed”.
In 1967, The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory was invented. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, both psychiatrists examined over 5,000 medical records to determine whether stressful events cause illnesses. From a questionnaire, they identified 43 stressful life events. Each stressful life event was awarded a life change unit. The higher your score the higher likelihood of a stress-induced health breakdown. The scale is outdated in a sense of being up to date with modern stressors. The scale, however, is a good reality check to gain a sense of the body; mind connection. You can take the scale @ www.stress.org
Chronic stress can negatively impact our health, sending blood pressure soaring and causing our hearts to work harder. Whether it’s a terrible boss, a horrible commute, mounting bills, or problems in your relationship/marriage, stress is a part of life we really can’t get away from. But there are things we can do to eliminate the effects of stress on our minds and body:
Sometimes stress comes from wanting to control everyone and every event in our lives. But this simply isn’t possible. Recognizing you don’t have control over everything and just letting go can often 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, only when we are in rest and relax mode. I recommend progressive muscle relaxation to my clients as it incorporates both breath and body work simultaneously. I also recommend the 4-7-8, aka as the relaxing breath. You can find videos of both techniques on you tube.
Make Self-Care a Priority
When we’re stressed it’s easy to make poor lifestyle choices. Do your best to make self-care a priority by eating well, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep and exercise each day.
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 that will help you begin your practice.