National Stress Awareness Day
National Stress Awareness Day
November 7th has been declared National Stress Awareness Day by the International Stress Management Association. Stress may be a part of our daily lives, but it doesn’t have to be the biggest or most impactful part. Managing your stress is vitally important to your physical health, as it can impact your heart and other vital organs.
Statistics have shown that older people tend to suffer more than others when under extreme duress. Ironically, retirement is supposed to be the time when you relax and enjoy your newly open schedule. However, with aging comes new concerns, such as managing your health, how to fund retirement, and a general sense of “loss.” These new challenges can be worrisome and keep you up at night. It’s important to be able to understand the causes of your stress, and then learn how to manage them so that you can live the healthiest lifestyle possible.
Here at Greystone Health, we understand the connection between your emotional health and your physical well-being. We’ve come up with a few ways to help manage your stress and find the pleasure of living in the moment.
- Make a list. When your head is too full of worries, it helps to clear it out by writing down all of your concerns. Seeing them written out on paper (or in an online journal if typing is less physically demanding for you) can help you face them and find a concise solution. Asking friends or your personal healthcare provider for help may also bring you to a quicker resolution.
- Proven to have profound effects on the body as well as the mind, meditating is easier to do than you might think. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and engage in slow, deep breathing. Allow yourself to relax into the moment and take as much time as you need to feel calm.
- While giving your body the stretching and strength it needs, yoga also forces you to focus your mind on your breathing instead of your stress. Not unlike meditation, you can allow yourself to enjoy the way your body feels during your practice, and the intentional breathing exercises work to quiet your mind as well as regenerate your blood flow and invigorate your spirit.
- Sing! It may feel silly, but singing has a similar effect to the way yoga refocuses your breathing. Everybody can sing; some just sing better than others. There are drop-in choirs in many large cities, or you can join one at your preferred house of worship. If you’re feeling adventurous, a karaoke night might be a fun escape (there are also in-home karaoke machines if you’re too shy). Or just turn on the radio or whatever music source you have and sing along to the next familiar song you hear. We guarantee you’ll feel better three minutes later!
- Count to ten, or higher if you need to. We tend to make hasty and impulsive decisions when stressed; taking a pause can help you to calm down and find a balance where you can make better choices that you won’t later regret.
- Whether it’s a book of inspiring quotes, an old favorite novel, or a dive into a new book, reading takes us out of our own experiences and transports us into another life. Unlike movies and TV, reading incorporates and impacts different nerve centers in the brain as you create mental images based on the words you’re reading. Getting lost in a great story gives you a break from you.
- Take a walk. A simple change of scenery and some fresh air can do wonders to shift your perspective. Inhale the fresh air, appreciate the scenery, allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of moving your body for the sake of moving it.
- Get a pet. If you’re able, adopting a dog or cat can do wonders for your overall mental state. Not only will your new pet need your attention, causing you to forget about your troubles for a while, their unconditional love will boost your mood throughout your day. A quick cuddle with your furry friend can do wonders.
- Join a group. There are support groups for literally everything that a person can go through in life, as well as social groups for every interest. Connecting with others who have had a similar experience or share the same hobbies can spark new friendships, and having someone new to talk things over with can help you work through your issues.
- Laugh! They say laughter is the best medicine, and for good reason. When you laugh, you release endorphins that boost your immune system and relax your muscles for up to 45 full minutes afterwards. Pop in a favorite old movie comedy, or search Netflix or Hulu for a sitcom binge.
While stress may be unavoidable in our daily lives, it is definitely manageable. If you feel overwhelmed or physically impacted to the point where you know you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider. There are some situations where you may be prescribed an anti-anxiety medication to help with your stress management. Your health, including your mental health, should always be your top priority.