Stress affects us all – but often affects us in ways that we’re not even aware of. When stress is at its worst, it can manifest as physical symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension. Stress can even lead to cardiovascular disease, thus having a permanent impact on your overall health.
April is Stress Awareness Month. It’s your invitation to carve out time to learn about managing and preventing stress. Knowing how stress impacts your overall health and what you can do to control your stress can help improve your quality of life and prevent burnout.
How to Manage and Prevent Stress
There are many things you can do to manage and prevent stress.
Eat healthy. A diet full of fresh, whole foods helps the body combat stress naturally. Avoid processed foods that come in boxes, cans and bags. Cook at home whenever possible, making your own meals from fresh ingredients. Some tips for improving your diet and eating healthy:
- Drink water instead of sugary sodas.
- Eat foods high in protein and low in fat, such as low-fat milk and yogurt, low-fat cheeses, and lean meats.
- Fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits at every meal.
Exercise Regularly. Exercise lowers blood pressure and provides a healthy outlet for stress. The more you exercise, the better you’ll feel – and the less stress will impact you. It’s hard to get into the habit of exercising regularly if you’re out of the habit.
Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. This includes biking, swimming, brisk walking, and mowing the lawn. Alternatively, if you’re not able to get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, get at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity. This includes running, aerobic dancing, yard work, and more.
Sleep Deeply. Not getting the proper amount of sleep makes it difficult to deal with stress. The more tired you are, the worse you’ll feel – and the more your stress will overwhelm you. Some suggestions:
- Get 7 or more hours per night, if you’re an adult.
- Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room.
- Turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime.
- If you’re having a hard time relaxing before bedtime, try reading a book.
Get The Most from Stress Awareness Month
There are many things you can do to get the most out of Stress Awareness Month. Below are some tips that can help you reduce stress and enjoy more about what matters in life.
- Silence your mind. Stress gets worse when thoughts run through your mind endlessly. Practice meditation and achieve quiet in your mind to feel better about yourself.
- Get your blood pumping. Set aside time each day for exercising outside! This might involve walking, jogging, or biking. Is the weather bad? Try taking a kickboxing class, or sign up for a gym membership. Do anything that will get your heart rate elevated, and put fresh air in your lungs.
- Light a candle. Lighting a candle can instantly change the mood in the room. Put on some soft soothing music, and dim the lights – then count your blessings.
- Laugh out loud. You may not be aware of this, but laughing can dramatically impact your outlook and change your attitude. Spend time laughing with friends and family. Take time to relax.