Everyone has experienced some form of stress in their lives, whether you are a first grader in school, a college student, a stay-at-home parent, a cashier at a grocery store, or an owner of a Fortune 500. Stress is a common part of life. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is your body’s natural reaction to any kind of demand that disrupts life as usual. Some forms of stress are good; but most of the time, we are so consumed with stress that it affects our physical and mental health. This is when we need to stop and listen to our body to help relieve the negative results of stress.
When our body experiences too much stress, our body releases chemicals that increases our blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and also decreases our digestion, growth, and immune system. According to Mental Health America, chronic stress has been linked to our body’s ability to fight off viruses – which increases our risk for chronic illness such as heart disease, headaches, sexual dysfunction, diabetes, intestinal problems, and even cancer.
Here are 10 tips to combat the negative aspects of stress:
1) Be realistic: It is okay to say “no”! If you are feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities, say “no” to new activities or stop doing activities that are not 100 percent necessary. For example, if you are working five days a week, leading a Parents Teachers Students Assiciation group and coaching a sport on weekdays, maybe it is time to step down from one of the roles or ask for more support so that you have time for yourself at least one day a week.
2) No one is perfect: We as a society praise the “superheroes” so much that we tend to forget that it is not realistic. Letting go of the superhero mentality can drastically relieve stress and help improve our overall health.
3) Meditate: A few minutes a day of meditation can help relieve chronic stress as well as increase our tolerance of it. Take time to just be still, to listen to music, read a comic book, relax, meditate, or not do anything at all.
4) Visualize: Use your imagination to envision a better way to manage your stresses.
5) One thing at a time: Make a list of your everyday tasks and check them off one at a time. Seeing items being checked off can be satisfying and be a motivation to keep going.
6) Exercise: Regular exercise is a good outlet for all of the extra energy our body gives off when we are stressed. It is recommended to incorporate at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity each day.
7) Get a hobby: Take a break from everyday worries by doing something you enjoy. Some healthy hobbies include painting, doing puzzles, gardening, watching a movie, or playing video games.
8) Vent: Take time to talk about your stresses. Letting other people know about what you are going through helps you release stress and may help you find better ways to deal with the stress.
9) Be flexible: Compromise, compromise, compromise. Instead of arguing your way through situations, be flexible, compromise, accommodate, and meet others half way.
10) Go easy on criticism: Instead of getting frustrated whenever you don’t meet your expectations – be kind to yourself. Instead of being frustrated when others do not meet your expectations, offer helpful suggestions.
May is Mental Health Month, Join Mental Health America and the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc. as we challenge ourselves to make changes big and small to improve our overall wellness.
For resources on taking steps for overall wellness, visit mentalhealthamerica.net or contact NMPASI at (670) 235-7273/7274 or visit us online at www.nmpasi.org.
“Fitness 4Mind4Body: Stress.” Mental Health America, 15 Mar. 2019, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/fitness-4mind4body-stress.
Dawn S. Sablan is a projects specialist at the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc.