Stress. We feel it physically and we wear it emotionally. It comes in waves and can stay for unwelcomed periods of time. And if left unchecked, it can lead to more than just a lack of happiness in your days, including a variety of major health issues, such as anxiety, severe depression, acne, and even heart attacks.
Everyone gets stressed, and it’s easy to see the importance of treating it, but how? Not everyone copes with stress the same way.
That’s where National Stress Awareness Month comes into play. This April, take control of your stress and start living the healthier, happier life you’ve always wanted with these Stress Awareness Month activities.
1. Start with getting — or staying — active
Fitness. Exercise. Working out. Being active is an amazing way to live a physically healthy life. But what most people underestimate is the emotional cleanse that comes from sweating out a hard day. Research has shown the amount of endorphins released during physical activity directly affects your mood.
And if running or pumping iron doesn’t interest you, try something different like boxer training. After a long, hard day nothing feels better than slugging frustration at a big bag. (Make sure to have some bandages, ibuprofen and other first aid supplies on hand just in case your workout gets a little too intense!)
2. Get your diet on track
Food is good — especially food that isn’t good for you. It’s a sick, twisted irony, but it’s true. What we eat directly correlates with how we feel and it all starts with a good breakfast. Yes, you’ve heard it before that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and when you stop and actually think about it, it’s true. Getting yourself started on the right track every day is a huge indicator to how the rest of the day shapes up.
Eat a balanced breakfast when you wake up and you won’t be as inclined to stuff yourself during lunch or snack throughout the entire morning. And by snacking, that means saying no to those donuts waiting for you at the office. Word of advice, drop the dough and grab an apple to go. Fruit (and its natural sugars and carbs, along with some lean protein) can help give you the early boost you need to get up on the right side of the bed. Check out this list of healthy ingredient substitutions that will spare your wallet and your waistline.
3. Shake things up and make a change
As humans, we tend to be creatures of habit. Whether those habits are good or bad depends on the situation at hand. But one thing is certain, getting stuck in a rut happens, and it happens more often than we’d like to admit. Simply making a change, be it small like cleaning off your desk at work or big like taking a vacation or landing a new job, can make all the difference you need to break through that cloud of stress hovering over you. Now, you may not be able to just quit your job, but if your level of stress is negatively affecting your health, ask yourself what’s more important and find ways to take action to lighten your burden at work or look for a more fulfilling opportunity.
4. Focus on the present — not the future or the past
It’s easy to get carried away thinking of all the things we need or should do in the near future. At the same time, it’s not good to dwell on the past, either. What’s done is done and even if it’s painful, everything is a learning experience. All those road bumps prepare your mental vehicle for whatever road lies ahead. So, drive in the “now” and focus on this moment and make the most of it. A better now can only help pave way for a better tomorrow.
5. Help someone else/volunteer
Sometimes being that spark for someone else can help trigger a positive reaction in relieving your own stress. Averting your focus to a loved one or complete stranger can help take the focus off your own challenges, in turn lightening the burden and allowing you to take a step back to realize everything will be okay. It’s a natural human instinct to want to help others in need, so lend a helping hand if you can and watch the results benefit you as well.
It’s never too late to start making positive changes. Find your breakthrough in the clouds. Make this April the month that you take control of your worry with these Stress Awareness Month tips.