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April 2024 is National Stress Awareness Month


Image by Mo Farrelly from Pixabay


In our daily lives, there are many sources of stress that we cope with regularly. Stress Awareness Month isn't so much about becoming aware of the stress itself per se, but about becoming more aware of ways that we can handle our stress in a healthier manner. This is something that can be a huge benefit to anyone, no matter what is going on in your life right now.


This year's theme for National Stress Awareness Month, according to the Stress Management Society is:


The theme #LittleByLittle highlights the transformative impact of consistent, small positive actions on over-all wellbeing. For Stress Awareness Month 2024 we, at The Stress Management Society, want to emphasise how even the smallest steps taken each day towards self-care and stress reduction can yield significant improvements in mental health over time.

This goes to show how just one small action can make a big difference in your life - for better or worse.


In addition to effecting your mental health, stress can effect your physical health as well. It is important to keep in mind how linked physical and mental health can be in our lives. When you take care of yourself in one way, it has impacts on other aspects of your health and wellbeing as well.


The National Institute of Mental Health has developed the GREAT model for dealing with stress in your life.


GREAT was developed by Dr. Krystal Lewis, a licensed clinical psychologist at NIMH.

  • Gratitude

  • Relaxation

  • Exercise

  • Acknowledge feelings

  • Track thoughts


For more information, you can watch their helpful video to implement these tips in your own life.




Wellness can combat stress


We as humans, are a mind, body and spirit. Keeping all of these aspects of ourselves in balance and well tended to can contribute positively to keeping ourselves healthy and well.


If you are feeling stressed out on a consistent basis, making sure you are taking care of your health is key to managing stress and its impacts. Incorporating wellness practices into your life is a great way to help feel less stressed out, even if it is not reducing your stressors themselves.


Going along with this month's theme of #littlebylittle I would emphasize that taking on too many changes when it comes to your health and wellness can be overwhelming, too, and actually add to your stress. So start small. Start with five minutes a day that you can do something that is good for you!


Getting started with a self care plan doesn't have to be just something else to put on your to-do list. It should be something you really enjoy. Or something easy.


You can start by drinking a glass of water in the morning, taking vitamins, or turning off screens before bed to improve your sleep. You can do a few minutes of yoga, meditation or journaling. Take a few minutes for mindfulness during the day. Anything that makes you feel good about yourself is self-care!


Minimize your to-do list


Maybe this sounds impossible, and in some instances it is. You may have kids that have appointments, deadlines at work, after school activities, house work, or other tasks that need to be done. We all do, it is perfectly normal!


Personally, I try to plan one important to-do list item each day. Then, I do it first thing. That way, I can feel less stressed out for the rest of the day. If there is a task that is difficult, or that you dread, putting it first will help you relax, because then you won't spend the rest of the day worrying about it like you do if you procrastinate.


If you have kids, try to minimize their activities too. I know so many of us have good intentions when we sign our kids up for classes, but kids need time for homework and creative play too. With my daughters, I usually only sign them up for 1-2 extracurriculars at the same time. That way, it is still fun and not overwhelming.


Also, if you have a lot of errands to run, try to consolidate them into one trip if possible. Especially if it is things like shopping or getting your hair cut that aren't on a schedule. Try to go to all the shops in one trip, so you don't have to go in and out of the house a bunch of times. It may seem like a lot at once, but it is actually easier this way.


Finally, if there are tasks you really hate doing, try to outsource them. Don't like to wash the dishes? Ask your hubby. Don't like to bathe the dog? Ask the kids. If you can afford it, you can also hire a professional. You can do things like having groceries delivered, or hiring a house cleaner, or a neighborhood kid to mow the lawn.


Conclusion


During National Stress Awareness Month, think about how any of these ideas can help you to reduce your own stress level. You might not always be able to change what you have to do during the day, but you can change how you do it.


When you prioritize differently and do the hardest tasks first, you will feel less stressed the rest of the day, as you aren't saving something you dread till right before bedtime.


Let me know in the comments if you find these tips helpful, and if you have any questions you would like me to address in a future blog post! I am always happy to help.



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