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April is National Stress Awareness Month

8 Tips to Help Reduce the Stress in Your Life

Life gives you many reasons to be stressed. From work deadlines to buying a house to watching the daily news on TV, you may be constantly bombarded with challenges and demands that seem too daunting to manage. And although your body is wired to handle many of life’s daily stressors, the trouble starts when the stress becomes chronic. When stress lasts for a long period of time, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health.

Divorce stress

If you’re in the midst of a divorce, you probably know what it feels like to deal with stress on a long-term basis. Your marriage may have been stressful, and the process of getting a divorce may be even worse. But even if divorce is not the culprit and other things are causing stress in your life, you’re definitely not alone. Around 75% of Americans reported to the American Psychological Association that they experienced a physical or mental symptom of stress in the last month.

Tips to alleviate stress

Because April is National Stress Awareness Month, and because levels of stress are on the rise, this is a good time to offer some tips for managing the stress in your life.

Sleep 7 to 9 hours a night. It’s a fact of life: Most of us think more clearly when our bodies are well rested. But when you have a lot on your mind–and too much to do–you may not get the sleep that your body requires. If you’re having trouble sleeping, think about what’s keeping you awake and eliminate it from your life if possible. Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day. And get plenty of exercise so you will be tired when it’s time for bed. 

Stay active on a daily basis. You’ve heard the recommendation from the American Heart Association: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. It’s not a tall order when you consider that’s only 30 minutes, 5 days a week. But if you want to relieve stress, movement helps. So pull the weeds in your garden. Ride your bike. Try a new sport. Or simply take a walk in the park.

Spend time outdoors. Sometimes improving your mood is as simple as getting out of the house. Natural light–and preferably sunshine–is good for the mind and the body. Although indoor exercise is certainly beneficial, taking your physical activity outdoors is like getting a two-fer for your mental health.

Reduce your news consumption. This is a topic I’ve written a great deal about, mainly because it’s a growing concern in a society that is increasingly divided both culturally and politically. Unfortunately, the news is now available 24 hours a day, and our hand-held devices make it readily accessible. Not only is much of the news repetitive, but it can be upsetting as well. If you want to find out what’s happening in the world, listen to the news for a few minutes at a designated time each day–and then move on.

Give yourself a pep talk. Turns out, it’s not such a bad idea to talk to yourself now and then. A little positive support goes a long way. “You’ve got this!” is a good reminder that you can do the task in front of you. And “nice job” is a way to praise yourself for the things you accomplish. Try to eliminate any negative thoughts that create doubt, and focus on the positive instead–even when things don’t go as well as expected.

Find ways to laugh. When you’re feeling down, it’s understandably difficult to find the humor in things. But laughter is such a good antidote that it’s well worth the try. Watch a funny movie that makes you laugh out loud, or hang out with a friend who always tells funny jokes. A good old-fashioned belly laugh is best, but just putting a smile on your face can do wonders.

Make social connections. Isolation is a happiness killer. We learned that during the pandemic. It also creates an abundant amount of stress, mainly because you’re left to grapple with your own thoughts. Instead, reach out to a good friend or family member when you need the extra support. Regularly connecting with others can be a helpful distraction from the daily stress in your life.  

Say no when you need to. A full schedule can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. You may think that you can do it all, but everything eventually catches up with you. Do yourself a favor and learn to say no before your to-do list becomes unmanageable. Delegating tasks to co-workers and family members can help as well.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.