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April 2023 is National Stress Awareness Month

April 2023 is National Stress Awareness Month. This is an important time to take stock of your own life, and to find out if there is a toxic level of stress in your own life that could be effecting your physical and mental health.

Stress does not merely afflict your mind; it can also affect you on a cellular level. In fact, long-term stress can lead to a wide range of illnesses—from headaches to stomach disorders to depression—and can even increase the risk of serious conditions like stroke and heart disease. Understanding the mind/stress/health connection can help you better manage stress and improve your health and well-being.

When you learn how to better manage your stress, then you will be on your way to mitigating its negative effects on your health, your relationships, and your life.

According to the CDC, here are some additional ways that stress can effect you, if it is left unchecked:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration.

  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests.

  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions.

  • Nightmares or problems sleeping.

  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, or skin rashes.

  • Worsening of chronic health problems and mental health conditions.

  • Increased use of alcohol, illegal drugs (like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine), and misuse of prescription drugs (like opioids).

Since there are such catastrophic potential concerns when dealing with stress, especially chronic stress, it is important to learn personal stress management techniques.

Many health and wellness behaviors can help to combat the stressors in your life. Taking good care of your health can help to protect you against some of the negative effects of stress in your life.

Additionally, it can be helpful to practice Mindfulness, Meditation or Yoga to help with your stress levels on a daily basis. All of these practices help to quiet your mind and still your thoughts. They can also help to make you happier, and to reduce your blood pressure.

Self-care is also important to cope with and reduce your stress levels. By making time for self-care, it is letting your mind and body know that you are making yourself a priority. This can contribute to better physical and mental wellness, and help you to feel more at peace.

Talking about things that are stressing you out with a therapist or life coach and developing coping skills can also be very helpful. Having a listening ear to bounce ideas off of can help you to get out of your head, and stop ruminating about the things that stress you out. Many workplaces provide an Employee Assistance Program that will provide you with free counseling.

If you don't have someone in your life that you can talk to you about all the things that are stressing you out, it can be helpful to journal about what is bothering you. That way, your feelings can come out in your writing instead of being all bottled up inside.

Any of these techniques can be helpful to reduce your stress level, and to help you feel better in both the short-term and the long-term.

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