National Stress Awareness Day

Today, April 16th, is National Stress Awareness Day.  Apparently, there are a few "stress awareness" times throughout the year, but that's likely because, as a society, we need all the stress awareness we can get!

If you're feeling tired, run-down, stressed, overwhelmed, or a little sad, taking a little time to reflect and do something positive for yourself can really help.  We all get stressed sometimes; I look and feel terrible, as seen in the picture below, when I am.  How we learn to manage stress, see the upside of stress, and understand what we do to prevent unnecessary stress in the future really matters.  Making mindfulness happen in your daily life is a form of stress management--the whole reason I write this blog--so any steps towards being in the present moment and living in your reality can help.

look how stressed I am in this picture!  but life doesn't have to be that way!
we can fix the nasty, unpleasant, and unattractive realities of stress´╗┐

Here are a few tips you've heard before, but they work--so give them a chance, then give them a try!

- get plenty of rest
Everyone needs a differing amount of sleep per night, but get what you actually need.  Sometimes it's as simple as cutting 20 minutes of internet browsing/ tv time/ dwelling on your day.  Take a look at this Snag Some Shut Eye post.  Or consider incorporating new techniques and aids into your sleep routine, like lavender sleep spray.

- make time for exercise
Like so many posts I've shared, this is a big one, but I am the first to admit, sometimes I even feel like I'm "too stressed to workout."  I know this isn't specifically logical, considering the overwhelming evidence that exercise curbs stress, but I think it all the same.  The trick, at least for me, is to work out so early that I already have the benefit before my brain is really working for the day!  (You know, get it in before your brain knows what you're doing!)  Or Sneak Fitness Into Your Morning Routine.  Or maybe Get Up, Get Moving, and Get Mindful after dinner to get your blood and brain going.

- aim for healthy (or healthier) meals and snacks
Any improvement in the way you eat will help your stress level, because you will be better equipped, due to your better fuel, to handle the stress that comes your way.  This is a simple move--and logical--but it's one we often discount or underestimate.  There are a number of healthy/ healthful recipes under the tab "Mindful Eating."

- drink more water today than you did yesterday!
Speaking of underestimate, when you start feeling run-down or tired, grab a glass of water!  We all could use more water.  If you're like me, you might go in and out of drinking water phases, but this can truly make a big difference in your stress levels.  Here is a post, called Increase Your Water Intake, giving suggestions and flavored water recipes to try.

- keep away from negative or draining people, especially if you're already stressed
It's always nice to be nice, but sometimes people take advantage of your willingness to listen.  If you have a coworker/ friend/ family member who constantly complains, dumps their problems, or, what we say in our house "sharks" on you, just keep away.  If someone can't Tell You What's Right in their life, maybe just keep your distance, at least until you feel good yourself.  You can still be friendly or civil, but you do not need to subject yourself to other people's negativity, especially when you're already feeling stressed.

- try something new
I've also posted on this subject a number of times, but getting out of a rut can help to reinvigorate you and help you to feel good.  If you're interested, check out these posts: Five Ideas to Get You Out of Your Daily Funk or Give Something New a Try (including how to open a pomegranate).

- relax
I know, easier said than done, but concentrate on what is truly relaxing for you and make time for it.  Take a look at You Deserve Some Re Time or 10 Ways to Relax & Get Mindful, if you need a reminder.  You can start off by making time once a week, then gradually start to incorporate relaxation into each day.  Yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi are excellent tools, and if you're interested in a relaxing yoga practice, check out my one hour yoga video on YouTube or try Legs Up the Wall.  Taking a bath, drinking tea, reading, hiking... these can be just as relaxing and refreshing.  So, find your relaxation today!

If you need more convincing on the health benefits of relaxation, check out this Huffington Post article enumerating some, including protecting your heart, boosting immunity and memory, and safeguarding against depression.

- be thankful
As simple as this sounds, many of us neglect to take time each day to be thankful.  You can do this through prayer, in your mind, by talking with a friend or family member, or even on paper.  Check out this post on Keep[ing] a Gratitude Journal or quotes on gratitude, if you're interested.

- if you need help, ask for it
Sometimes we commit to too much, overestimate how much time we'll have, underestimate how long something will take, or all of the above.  If you need help, doing a task/ talking through something/ making positive changes, know that you can ask for it.  You aren't alone and the people in your life are willing to help, but they won't know if you don't reach out.  (Remember when Chipotle Knew My Order?!)

Can you make time for stress awareness (and reduction) today?  Where will you start?

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