National Stress Awareness Day
October 31, 2022 | by BMI Staff
The first Wednesday in November is dedicated to stress awareness, and what better time is there than when we are all gearing up for the busy holidays to pinpoint and mitigate our stressors? We are here to provide a few quick and simple tips for recognizing your stress triggers and finding ways to work through them.
What is Stress?
Stress is a physical, emotional, and intellectual reaction to changes or challenges. Your body’s natural stress response helps it adjust to new situations. This is an important part of human physiology because it keeps us alert, motivated, and avoidant of danger. The body’s nervous system controls heart rate, breathing, vision changes, and so much more. Its built-in stress response, otherwise known as “fight-or-flight,” helps the body react to stressful situations in the most appropriate way. When stress becomes negative is when it continues without relief or breaks. When a person struggles with chronic stress, that normally-helpful stress response stays active on a continuous basis, which causes wear and tear on the body and the mind. Chronic stress causes side effects such as physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms.
Fortunately, there are several ways in which we can work to minimize stressful triggers within our daily lives that will work to cultivate more relaxation.
How to Reduce Stress
If you struggle with chronic stress, your doctor may be the best resource at your disposal for treating your symptoms and finding ways to get to the root of your problem. In addition to the various anxiety and depression medications available depending on your specific ailment, your doctor may also find physical manifestations of your stress, such as high blood pressure, that may need treatment. If you deal with bouts of stress that affect your life negatively without being chronic, check out these strategies for relieving stress that you can adopt into your daily routine.
Exercise is a great way to expel excess energy, which is a common symptom of stress that tends to manifest in restless legs or other jitters. Exercise also causes a release of dopamine, which is a feel-good hormone that provides mood-lifting benefits. If you feel stress symptoms coming on, even taking a short walk can help to relieve those symptoms.
Start a gratitude journal.
It is so easy to fixate on all of the things in life that are going wrong, but when was the last time you thoughtfully pondered all of the great things that happened to you or that you accomplished each day? Start a gratitude journal, in which you only notate the positive things that happen each day. Use this as a way to congratulate yourself and give yourself a break at the end of the day. You may also look back on past entries to lift your spirits on those days when it seems like nothing is going right.
Set goals and prioritize them.
If you’ve ever created a to-do list and included completed tasks just to feel the joy of marking them off, you probably already understand the joy that comes with setting and accomplishing goals (big or small!). Keep a list of goals that are separated by importance–with immediate goals at the top under “today,” and eventual goals below under “this month.”
Schedule some time with a therapist.
With the de-stigmatization work going on in the mental health community regarding therapy, this particular stress-management tool is becoming more and more available. Consider scheduling an appointment to see if it works for you.