Decompress in Honor of Stress Awareness Month

Now’s the time to focus on how to make your life less stressful

Maybe it shouldn’t take a national awareness day to get us to unpack some of the stress we’ve built into our lives. But mindfulness is the first step towards making changes, so take advantage of April as National Stress Awareness Month to improve your mental state. Our lives can easily become dominated by routines, obligations, and worries.

Here are some strategies to unpack that stressful life and schedule, and find some paths towards relaxation and contentment. It’s good for your health as well as your head.

Let yourself laugh
Every day, life provides us with something silly. Taking a few seconds to appreciate it, and let it delight or surprise us, is a great stress reliever. (There’s a reason they call laughter “the best medicine.”) Seek out people you find funny for a quick conversation during the work day. Switch off the news and turn on your favorite comic. Laugh at yourself when you do something silly or forgetful. There are endless possibilities for laughter, if you’re looking for them. It yields huge benefits to break the straight-faced cycle.

Change something up
You don’t have to tackle re-organizing your entire life to start ebbing away at the stressful parts. One small change can set off a chain reaction that can free up some space inside your head. Take your dog on a different route during your morning walk. Spend ten minutes tackling that pile of clutter in your office that stresses you out every time you walk into the room. Give yourself an hour to start researching that vacation you’ve been meaning to take. Think of these as small gifts to yourself. One step can lead to other perspectives and possibilities.

Practice affirming self-talk
You know who’s often your worst enemy, when they should be your biggest advocate? You are! Start becoming aware of what you say to yourself over the course of a day. Are you congratulating yourself for small accomplishments? Are you focusing on things about yourself that you like? If you notice a running commentary of things you aren’t doing well, it might be time to change the script. Put yourself in charge of positive dialogue inside your head. You can transform your day if you walk away from a situation—even a difficult one—focusing on what you did well, instead of on poor judgment or missed opportunities.

Breathe deep
It may be a cliche, but it really does reap benefits to “just breathe.” Yogis and philosophers know that taking a moment out of your day—or, even better, regularly throughout the day—to breathe deeply will help to reconnect you to the “here and now.” A few deep breaths, in and out, in the midst of a stressful moment can help remind you that, whatever difficulty you’re facing, your life is bigger than just that. You deserve a moment of peace wherever you can find it, and sometimes you can only find it after a big exhale.

The first steps to feeling less stressed are free and right in front of you! Just be mindful and tell yourself you deserve a life with plenty of stress-free moments. They say if you do something for two weeks, it becomes a habit. So spend the first couple weeks of April putting some of these strategies into place. Before you know it, taking steps to reduce your stress could become second nature!

This article is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health. We offer career training programs for nursing assistants, patient care technicians, and practical nurses at our campus in Manchester, NH. Reach out to us for more information or to schedule a visit!

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