Relax During Stress Awareness Month

Everyone has stress in their lives whether it caused by work, family dynamics, friendships, health problems, or something else. Everyone faces stress sometimes, some more often then others. It is important to know how you deal with stress to help you learn tips for helping yourself through tough events. April is Stress Awareness Month, learn how to deal with, avoid and manage stress.


What is stress?

We all know the feeling of being stressed. Stress is the brain’s response to a demand. Change is a big factor that triggers stress whether it is positive or negative, short-term or long-term, minor or extreme change. Medically, stress is a physical, mental or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. This can include external factors (environment, psychological, social) or internal (illness, medical procedure, emotional).

What areas does stress affect?

Stress can affect many areas of your body. Although not all stress is “bad” and can prepare you for certain situations. If you are facing a dangerous situation, your pulse will race, your breathing becomes faster and your muscles tense up. These are all functions preparing you to flee or fight. Short term, these feelings can boost your immune system.

Chronic stress can cause these same chemicals to suppress functions not needed for “survival.” Your immunity is lowered, digestive, excretory and reproductive systems can stop working correctly. If the stress is constant it can have physical and mental health risks.

How does stress impact your health?

Everyone processes and reacts to stress differently. For some, digestive issues become a problem. Others have headaches, depression, insomnia, anger, or irritability. If you are stressed you become prone to illness such as cold or flu.

If you experience stress for a long period of time your body may face serious problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, diabetes and more.

What are the types of stress?

These main types of stress all can have impact on your physical and emotional health.

  • Routine stress: These are related to the daily life of work, family and other responsibilities.
  • Change related stress: This is caused by a sudden negative event, a new job, divorce, illness or a move.
  • Traumatic stress: This results from an event like an accident, war, assault, natural disaster, death etc.

How can I cope with stress?

Follow the 4 A’s to manage stress. 4 a's of stress management

  • Ask family, friends, for help and rely on them for emotional support.
  • Speak to a counselor or pastor
  • Recognize triggers and do your best to avoid them.
  • Schedule “me time” for things that relax you (massage, pedicure, coloring, walk, hot bath, exercise, etc.).
  • Exercise 30 minutes daily.
  • Incorporate yoga or meditation.
  • Stay positive. Focusing on what goes wrong will not be helpful. Think of what you have accomplished that day instead of your failures.
  • Seek care for any health problems.
  • Drink water and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Use to-do lists to stay organized and put priorities first.