April is National National Stress Awareness Month, and while stress is unavoidable for the vast majority of Americans, there are many ways to help prevent and manage it. April marks National Stress Awareness Month and this year it coincides with a very challenging time in our country. Stress can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Being able to recognize common symptoms of stress can help you manage them. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Learning to cope with our stress and finding healthy ways to deal with these situations can go a long way in living a healthy and positive life. What does stress mean to you? We all experience stress – yet we may experience it in very different ways. Because of this, there is no single definition for stress, but the most common explanation is a physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension. Stress is a reaction to a situation where a person feels anxious or threatened. Learning healthy ways to cope and getting the proper care and support can help reduce stressful feelings and symptoms.
Whether it’s positive stress (like planning a wedding) or negative stress (such as getting laid off), everyone has felt the effects of stress at one point in their lives. Stress often manifests as physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension, and can even lead to serious health issues, such as cardiovascular disease. In fact, 77 percent of Americans report that they experience physical symptoms as a result of stress. Additionally, 33 percent feel they are living with extreme stress and 48 percent blame stress for negatively impacting their personal and professional lives.
Practice the Big Three
There is a reason that eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep always appear on prevention lists. These three habits are the cornerstone to a happy, healthy life and their impact on stress is no different.
Eating a diet full of fresh, whole foods helps the body combat stress naturally. It is also wise to avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine that can amplify stress, interfere with sleep, and worsen the effects stress has on the body.
Getting the recommended amount of exercise lowers blood pressure and provides a healthy outlet to relieve stress. Rhythmic exercise such as walking, Yoga, and swimming has proven to be especially effective. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity, five days a week.
There is a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Not getting a proper amount of sleep makes it difficult to deal with stressful situations and can increase anxiety and depression. To establish a healthy sleeping routine, make sure to turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed and try to establish a calming nighttime ritual, such as reading or meditating. This ritual will signal your mind to relax and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
Learn how to relax
Relaxing while stressed is no easy task. It is important to find what works best for you and what fits into your lifestyle. The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to stick with it. Meditation and deep breathing are great ways to feel more relaxed and are also easy to do just about anywhere. If you are looking for a good way to get started, try the 4-6-8 deep breathing technique. Inhale for four seconds, hold the breath for six seconds, exhale for eight seconds. Continue for as long as you need to feel relaxed.
Put your feelings on paper
Have thoughts running through your head on repeat? Try writing them out. Getting the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper will signal your brain that the thought is safe and it no longer needs to hold onto it.
You are your own best advocate. If you are feeling overloaded and worn down, take a look at everything that is going on in your life and see if some things can take a backseat until you feel up to tackling them. Make a list of situations that could cause potential stress and then figure out which situations you can avoid or improve to manage the outcome.
Talk about your problems
Sometimes talking through a problem is all you need to work through a stressful situation. Confiding in a trusted friend or family member can go a long way in combating stress. A licensed professional can also provide helpful tools to help you positively process through stressful scenarios.
Do something you enjoy
Always wanted to take a cooking class? Considering an herb garden? Learning new skills and taking the time to do something you love creates an outlet to relieve stress. Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of picking up something new – it can be as small as playing a 15-minute game of Solitaire. Just make sure it’s something you enjoy doing.
It might feel silly, but simply smiling can help improve your mood. Laughing is also a great way to beat stress and is clinically proven to be good for your health. Take some time for a laugh break – watch a funny show/movie or find a funny video online and enjoy the instant mood lift!
Petra's newest offering (April 2022) is Subtle Yogafit calms the nervous system, improves breathing, increases the body-mind connection, and is trauma-informed. It is a holistic intervention that can complement and enhance traditional healthcare approaches through health promotion, prevention, treatment, or aftercare/recovery. Subtle Yogafit incorporates six key processes: mindful movement, breathing practices, meditation, awareness of values/ethical engagement, spiritual development, and service. Together these practices promote attention, mindfulness, body awareness, self-regulation, resiliency, self-actualization, and pro-social behavior. Subtle Yogafit is a different broadly applicable, person-centered approach to yoga practice that can be tailored to different body types/physical abilities and various contexts - from mental illness, anxiety, and depression to public health.
12, 60-minute private or semi-private lessons (1 to 3 students)
Sliding Scale Tuition per student
Community Supported: $400
Pay It Forward: $560