Three Simple Tips for Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month. Everyone gets stressed. It is basically an inevitable part of life. But we can choose to learn skills to manage and control our stress so that it doesn’t impact our lives in negative ways.breath

Here are three easy tips to help reduce your stress this month:

  • Exercise! Getting up and moving is a great stress reliever. Not only does it loosen up tense muscles but it releases endorphins which can protect the body from the harmful effects of the stress response. Try enjoying the spring weather by taking a brisk walk/jog or run around a local park or maybe try some gentle stretching and yoga to loosen up.
  • Sleep! Being well rested is important to maintaining a healthy stress level. Rest helps to rejuvenate the body and replenishes our resources so we can handle stress with ease. Being tired makes it more difficult to focus and control our moods which could exacerbate the stress response.
  • Breath! When you feel like you are getting stressed, take a moment (close your eyes if that feels comfortable for you) and pay attention to your breath for about 5-6 breaths. You can place one hand over your belly button and the other over your chest and focus on how it feels to breath as the belly and chest rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. Conscious breathing has been proven to lower the stress response by decreasing heart rate and relaxing the body and mind.



Taking a Mindful Minute, or Two

Try this quick mindfulness exercise to help you stay aware and present! The technique will take you less than two minutes to complete but the relaxing effects will last all day.

Begin by sitting on the floor or in a chair, finding a comfortable position where the spine is tall and straight and all the muscles of the body are relaxed. If in a chair, place both feet flat on the ground and if on the floor, sit on the shins or with legs crossed. Place the hands palms down on the tops of the thighs. Close the eyes if you are comfortable doing so.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, imagining a glass being filled with water. Fill your body with air just like the glass fills with water, from the bottom up. First filling the belly, than the ribs, the chest and then the collar bone. Exhale and imagine the glass of water being poured out, emptying from the top down. Exhaling air through your nose from the collarbone, then chest, then ribs and finally the belly. Breathe in this way for about 10 breaths and return to your normal calm (1)