10 Apr April is National Stress Awareness Month
April is National Stress Awareness Month. Stress is something that impacts all of us. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to go through life without some sort of stress each day.
In my opinion, stress has a bad rap. It’s often associated with everything negative. However, not all stress is bad! Some stress motivates us to work harder, do more and increase our ability to problem solve. We may also feel stress in relation to exciting things happening or change occurring.
The thing is—all stress, whether positive or negative, impacts our body in a similar way. Stress can cause us to feel overwhelmed, fatigued, irritable. We may also feel more physically unwell due to the intensity of our stress.
So, what do we do to protect ourselves from being overcome by stress?
In light of stress awareness month, we’ll highlight our top five ways to manage stress more effectively.
Identify & Eliminate the Stressors
The first place to start is to recognize what the triggers are for you when it comes to stress. While it is impossible to avoid all stress, you can manage to reduce the stress you experience. Start with evaluating what you can change in a stressful situation and move toward doing that. This can involve reducing your responsibilities, asking for help or saying no. Notice how your body reacts and pay attention to that. Those cues provide a lot of invaluable information.
Use Your Community
Research continues to highlight the importance of a community as a protective factor. In fact, we know that having a strong community can improve one’s resilience to stress. The key is to lean on the people who can be helpful, so be strategic in who you choose to lean on.
Use Your PLEASE Skills
In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), one key emotion regulation skill is PLEASE, which focuses on how we are taking care of ourselves and reducing our vulnerability to our emotions.
PLEASE stands for:
- (Taking care of) PhysicaL illness
- (Balancing our) Eating
- Avoiding mood altering drugs
- (Balancing our) Sleep
- (Getting good) Exercise
Paying attention to the above five things helps our physical body find balance, which is often the first step in helping our mental capacity to increase. When we feel grounded physically, we are better able to handle stressors that appear in our lives.
Nature has been proven to have a wonderfully calming effect on all of us. It can help you to refocus and to calm your mind. Even just a few moments noticing nature around you can do this. Find five minutes to get out, get fresh air, and notice the world around you.
Talk to Someone
Sometimes, we just can’t do it all on our own. We need to talk to someone who can help us work through the stress, learn ways to manage it more effectively and to better identify the situations that cause us to feel more overwhelmed. Finding a therapist when you feel overwhelmed by stress can be the best gift you can give yourself.
Stress is a part of all of our lives. It’s unavoidable. We do, however, want to figure out the best way to manage it for ourselves so that it does not take over our lives in negative ways. Implementing some of these strategies may be the first step you need to implement important changes in your life.