By Sarah Hornby
Amid the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rising cost of living and the daily triggers we all face, it’s no wonder so many of us are feeling stressed out. If unmanaged, this stress can lead to acute and long-term mental health impacts like anxiety and depression.
Women report stress at higher rates than men, and it impacts one in five women in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. April is Stress Awareness Month and a perfect time to consider how you can incorporate stress relief into your daily routine.
Stress can have a severe effect on your mind and body, so it’s important to stay active. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help improve your mood. The exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous. Even a casual walk can elevate your spirits and lower your stress level.
With so many responsibilities like work, school and family, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Saying “no” when you’re being stretched thin is important. Find time to incorporate self-care into your life, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. Listening to music or reading a book are easy ways to take time for yourself.
GET YOUR REST
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least seven hours of sleep per night for adults. Staying up to get more done can be counterproductive because your body needs time to recharge. Getting enough sleep will improve your overall health and reduce stress. If you are struggling to fall asleep, developing a relaxing nighttime routine and limiting your use of electronics immediately before bed could help.
TAKE TIME TO JOURNAL
Journaling is a powerful tool. Writing down your feelings can help you work through them and identify what is causing your stress. Gratitude journals also can be beneficial. Making it a priority to write down what you’re thankful for allows you to focus on the positive and eases stress.
REACH OUT TO LOVED ONES
Finally, confiding in someone you trust about how you’re feeling can help. Staying connected to people who make you happy by phone or through video chat can greatly reduce stress and loneliness. If you feel overwhelmed, reaching out to your support system is a great way to feel better.
Take control of your stress before it interrupts your life. Adding these simple ideas into your routine could make a big difference.
Sarah Hornby is a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Oceans Behavioral Hospital Biloxi.