November 4 is National Stress Awareness Day

By on November 2, 2020
stress

If you played a bingo game of stress events, 2020 would have the winning card. A global health pandemic, closed schools, racial strife, social isolation, high unemployment, contentious election. And coming soon, the holidays. Take a deep breath.

November 4 is National Stress Awareness Day and there couldn’t be a better time to commit to your emotional health.

A Normal Consequence of a Busy Life?

Some women believe that feeling stressed is an inevitable effect of balancing roles such as mother, daughter, wife, grandmother, friend, and professional. In fact, chronic stress is harmful to your health. It can lead to common health problems like diabetes, hypertension, depression, headaches, and digestive issues.

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Short-Term and Long-Term Stress Relief

Fortunately, there are things you can do to instantly lower your stress level. Try these on November 4 and let National Stress Awareness Day be the start of a more serene you. You can then plan longer-term solutions to reduce the stressors you feel each day.

Immediate Stress Relievers

  • Breathe deeply. You can do this anytime and anywhere. It aids stress management by stabilizing blood pressure and slowing your heartbeat.
  • Get moving. Exercise improves your mood, releases endorphins, and lets you focus on your body rather than your worries. It doesn’t matter what you do. Choose something you enjoy and do it for 30 minutes.
  • Drink water. When your body is dehydrated, it releases cortisol, a stress hormone. In small doses, cortisol is an important part of the fight or flight response. But chronic exposure to the hormone is related to the health problems mentioned above.
  • Eat oatmeal. Foods high in fiber and antioxidants, such as beans, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal, contribute to the release of serotonin. This chemical enhances mood and improves sleep patterns.

Long-Term Stress Management Techniques

  • Find the source. The first step is to find the source of your stress. Some causes are easy to identify—a divorce, a move, or work deadlines. Others require reflection. How did your actions create or perpetuate stress? Was it the deadline or your procrastination?

The 4 A’s of Stress Management

Some sources of stress are predictable, such as giving a speech, commuting or hosting a holiday dinner. In coping with predictable situations, you can adjust the situation or change your reaction to it. Consider HelpGuide’s 4 A’s — Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept.

Avoid

  • Learn to say “no.” Because you’re too busy. Because you need an evening to bond with the TV. Because you just don’t want to.
  • If there are people who bring drama or someone you know stresses you out, limit contact with them or cut ties altogether.
  • Control your environment. If the news or social media makes you uneasy, disconnect.
  • Edit your to-do list. If you have too much on your plate, review your schedule and tasks. Move non-essential things to low priority or drop them altogether.

Alter

  • Express yourself. Communicate your concerns openly and tactfully. If you’re working on a report and your sister calls to gossip, tell her you to have only five minutes.
  • If someone else is willing to change their behavior, meet them halfway.
  • Balance your schedule. You might feel virtuous with a schedule that is all work and no play, but you won’t be happy or efficient. Schedule time for social activities, downtime, family life, and solitude.

Adapt

  • Reframe problems. Stuck in traffic? Don’t fume. Pump up the music, listen to a podcast, or that book club choice you need to finish.
  • Look at the big picture. Will this matter in a month or a year? If not, it is not worth getting upset over.
  • Adjust your standards. Let go of perfectionism. Set reasonable standards and learn to appreciate “good enough.”
  • Practice gratitude. Take time to appreciate the things that are going well.

Accept

  • Accept the things you cannot change. We can’t change a pandemic or a loved one’s illness. Don’t waste energy being upset.
  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. While you can’t control other people’s behavior, you can control your reaction.
  • Everyone makes mistakes. For your own good, forgive yourself as well as others. Let go of anger and resentment

Stay Connected

Maintain your social connections. Our connections to others support our well-being. Reach out to your support group. Take a walk with a friend. Plan a zoom cocktail party.

Don’t worry if you feel the occasional bout of stress. A little short-term stress is beneficial. It improves performance and builds resilience. Feeling anxiety can be a helpful warning that it is time to stop procrastinating and get to work. When you’re ready to soothe your anxiety, these strategies help you face the rest of the year with a calm perspective.

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November 4 is National Stress Awareness Day