April is recognized as National Stress Awareness Month to bring attention to the negative impact of stress. Managing stress is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Knowing how to manage stress can improve mental and physical well-being as well as minimize exacerbation of health-related issues. It’s critical to recognize what stress and anxiety look like, take steps to build resilience, and know where to go for help.
Everyone has a role to play when it comes to raising awareness on stress and creating a safe space for those who are suffering from it. You also have an obligation to yourself to ensure that you manage your stress amicably or else the consequences will be dire to both you and your family.
Today we are going to highlight the activities we can do either by ourselves or with others to mark National Stress Awareness Month, they include:
- Do something creative
When we’re doing something creative we’re using a different part of the brain to where stress is occurring. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, being creative can help to relieve feelings of pressure. You could draw, doodle, sew, sing, or cook yourself your favorite meal.
- Get outside
Being outside in nature is great for our wellbeing. Going for a short walk or sitting in a green space can have an extremely calming effect on how we feel. Why not invite a friend to go for a walk around your Local Park, street or farm this weekend?
- Exercise your body
Exercise is a very effective way to combat stress. When we exercise our bodies release endorphins which help us feel good. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym pumping iron – you could go for a walk, or dance around your living room to your favorite songs. You’d be surprised how much of a mood-booster it is!
- Meditation and mindfulness
Meditation is the practice of noticing your emotions and gaining a sense of perspective on them. It’s typically done by sitting or lying down in a quiet place and focusing on your breathing. When you meditate, you’re learning to focus on the present moment and gradually let go of outside thoughts or distractions.
The first few times you try meditation you may not feel the benefits, or you may find it difficult to keep other thoughts out, but by practicing over time you’re likely to find it easier. You’ll also find that you’re better able to let go of distracting thoughts in day-to-day life. It should help you to feel calm.
Mindfulness is the ability to be present and fully engaged with whatever you’re doing in the moment. It’s a great way to center your thoughts and calm the mind. Start by noticing things in your immediate surroundings such as smell, touch, sounds, taste and sight – this can help to ground you.
- Write it down
You would be surprised what a relief it can be to write down what you’re thinking and feeling. You’re not writing with the aim of anyone reading it, just for yourself to get down on paper what you’re feeling. This can be a big stress reliever.
- Do something you enjoy
When we’re really busy it’s easy to eliminate the things we enjoy from our schedule. But these are the things which help us to relieve stress.
Think of your emotions as a bucket. Daily activities and regular stressors fill up our bucket with water throughout the day. Doing things we enjoy act like holes in the bucket, relieving water so that your bucket doesn’t overflow. If you don’t do things you enjoy regularly then your bucket is at risk of overflowing, and we can experience extreme stress or burnout.
- Talk to someone
As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. Speaking to a friend, loved one, colleague or therapist can help you to lighten the load you may be feeling. The person you’re talking to may also be able to help you organize your thoughts, create an action plan, or take some tasks off your plate.
- Listen to music
Music can have an excellent mood-boosting effect. Sometimes belting out the lyrics to a cheesy ballad makes everything seem all right. If you’re in a public place, s listening to your favorite music can help you feel better quickly. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
GOA Mental Program offers a platform for everyone to easily access information on mental health. During this National Stress Awareness Month we are on the lookout for avenues to continue educatring the public on this. You can reach out to us to seek further information, clarification, for partnerships or even to invite us to your platform, family, group or individually on Mental Health.
SIMON NDIRANGU N.