You may have felt more stressed this past year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Causes of concern have been feeling disconnected, worrying about your future and not having any control over the situation. What a perfect time to observe a month of Stress Awareness.
Anxiety is a major part of life and something you can’t get away from. Take the current way of life. This was not in your plans.
Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes and not for diagnosis. More details.
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What is Stress to You?
I know anxiety. If you have never had a problem with anxiety you have no idea what it’s like. It has brought on panic attacks like everything is overwhelming and closing in on me.
These feelings have affected my job performance and social life. My anxiety rises when I’m put in situations that involve other people. I find comfort in being alone and happy in my apartment. I’m a loner.
Planning for the day ahead provided some relief. Including laying out my clothes to wear, preparing a lunch the night before so I was ready in the morning. Doing this gave me more time to chill before starting the day.
Something I needed to do to feel grounded. I take advantage of a to-do list. It helps me prioritize.
So you see there is no single way to define stress. You may experience it in another way then someone else. Most commonly it is a physical, mental or emotional strain or tension.
Stress is how you react to situations when feeling anxious or threatened. Having healthy ways to deal with it and proper care along with support is helpful. This helps reduce feelings and symptoms of stress.
Little Signs you are Overwhelmed
- Drawing shoulders/Torso inward
- Back of neck muscles tighten
- Not aware of surroundings
- Jaw tension
- Clenching hands
- Gripping objects
- Shallow breathing
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased heart rate
- Gastrointestinal problems
Common Reactions to Stress
Stress can affect more than just your mind. Chronic stress is more than just a mental issue. It can also lead to serious conditions such as stroke and heart disease.
When you are faced with a stressful situation, certain stress hormones swiftly enter your bloodstream. This leads to a higher heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels. In emergency situations it is helpful but it is dangerous when a regular thing.
- Feeling sad, frustrated and helpless
- Not being able to concentrate or make decisions
- Headaches, back pain and stomach upset
- Smoking or using alcohol or drug
- Over eating, craving for carbs and comfort foods
3 Facts about Stress
It can actually help
Sometimes stress is good. It can motivate you to make life style changes.
It can make you sick
If you suffer from chronic stress you are more susceptible to ailments from headaches and insomnia to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Here’s why you’re stressed
5 common factors are:
- Economic outlook
Stress Awareness is Important
Through Stress Awareness Month you are reminded to notice your health and to become educated in the dangers that stress can cause. You are encouraged to put coping strategies into place.
Getting word out has been ongoing since 1992. Stress Awareness Month is a campaign for awareness and education.
We have all dealt with stress at some point in our lives. Stress is a big factor in mental health problems resulting as anxiety and depression.
Stress Awareness to-do List
Talk about it
Share your problems. Being open and discussing it freely reduces this stigma linked to stress. Your support group could include:
Share what works for you
If it helped you cope pass it on. Your information could benefit someone close to you. More importantly focusing on others.
These are my go to:
I will take three long breathes inhaling and exhaling as long as I can. You can do this anytime and anywhere (sitting in traffic/waiting at doctor’s office).
This is what I have done when going to bed. Lie down and close eyes (room should be quiet). Take deep breaths. Focus on one area of your body at a time. Start with head and work down.
I tell my head to relax and feel the tension released. I am quite a pro at this. Be patient, it takes practice.
Think of your Happy Place
We all have a place where we feel calm, comfortable and relaxed. I envision a lawn (more specifically my grandma’s old place) where I lay on a blanket. The sun beats down, birds chirp, breeze softly moves the grass, you get the picture?
There are plenty of online apps and meditation recordings to help with this.
This is a great way to focus on your breathing and stay in the present. Let those worries roll off your shoulders. I have Happy Notper Fect on my phone now and have used others.
Yoga is an ancient practice that goes back thousands of years. It blends breathing with postures and flowing movements. As a result enhancing balance and calming your mind.
There are eight yoga branches to choose from. So you are likely to find at least one to fit your needs.
When you are stressed you may have problems with sleep. But it is important at this time to get your Z’s. The techniques above should help. In addition exercise, relaxation and taking a supplement such as valerian.
Put calming scents like lavender, geranium, rose, sandalwood or bergamot in your diffuser. Breathe in and relax.
How to Observe Stress Awareness Month
Learn how to silence your mind. This is one effective way.
On a daily basis do some movement. If you jog, bike or just go for a walk. Get some fresh air and move!
Visit your doctor
Your doctor will help you with a plan to battle stress in your life.
Healthy Ways to Deal with Stress
Let it go!
Like Elsa in Frozen says let it go! Recognize when you don’t have control. Avoid getting anxious over these situations.
How you react
Learn to take control of the way you react by doing the opposite when anxious. This will send a message to your body to calm down. Responding with a huge stretch, opening your mouth wide, taking deep breathes or tapping your face or body area with fingertips has a calming effect.
As a result the movement and response breaks the anxious pattern.
Make a Goal
Have a realistic goal of developing a vision for living healthy, wellness and personal growth.
Maintain your health
Eat a well-balanced diet, get active, get enough sleep, when you feel stressed take a break.
Avoid drugs and alcohol
These only lead to other problems and make the stress you already feel worse.
Music calms the beast
As with anxiety that is. Maybe you put on your jam, dance around your home while doing task (or not) Also you could find a big comfortable chair and listen to a relaxing Celtic, Rainforest or birds singing CD.
Spend some time cuddling your furry baby. Cats soothe themselves by purring. My cats purr at night next to me. This is comforting.
Ask for help
It’s O.K. Recognize when you need more help. Talk to a psychologist, social worker or counselor.
Wrapping it up
You got this! We can’t get away from stress it is inevitably a part of our life. Learning how to deal with it and move forward is most important for well-being.
Be mindful of how anxiety tends to make you react. Don’t forget to take a break when you are overwhelmed. Practice a technique you enjoy which is relaxing and calms your mind.
Do these little things regularly. This is self-care. Earlier I did my face sheet mask and eye mask, ear and nose drops. I am set to go! (Got this post done).
Does watching the news make you anxious these days?
Header Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from pexels