Nope, not an April Fool’s joke, April is Stress Awareness month. This is also the month that celebrates the first day of Spring which means new beginnings. This is a great place to start creating new ways that will reduce unnecessary stress in your life for good.
Okay so a little bit of stress is useful in daily life and in getting things done, but when it gets out of hand it has the power to create larger problems that go beyond the original source of stress. The bottom line is your health.
Management is key, and everyone is individual in how they like to relax and finding the best way for yourself is important in sustaining the practice of stress management. For example, I’m not a Yoga person, although it is an amazing and proven method of relaxation for many people. I prefer cardio exercise with loud beat driven music, it helps me keep worrying thoughts in check. By the end of the workout I’m usually exhausted but refreshed, both my body and mind feel relaxed, it reminds me that I’m human.
The common thread in relaxation techniques is breathing. When we are stressed the flight or fight response kicks in and we tense up and our breathing pattern changes which can add further stress. Conscious breathing exercises and relaxing your muscles are great for grounding you to the present moment and overriding the stress reaction.
Another good way to keep stress down is to be fulfilled with something that is important to you, whether its a job, spouse, family, spiritual, friends, pets, hobby, whatever it is, just being fulfilled with something important to you can keep things in perspective. To be satisfied in the present moment, without feeling like you’re missing something.
In case you’re not satisfied with how things are at the present moment, be aware that you always have options and you may actively work toward improving your circumstances. Dissatisfaction without motivation is very stressful and is the equivalent of being “stuck.” Sometimes it helps to talk to others because they may show us other options that we didn’t see before.
For Stress Awareness month I found useful slides from Slideshare on stress management and thought I’d post them here: