How to Improve Your Mental Health During Stress Awareness Month

April is known as Stress Awareness Month, as well as Alcohol Awareness Month. This year, due to the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to observe these themes and reflect on how they might be impacting your life.

For many people, the stress during these times has lead to more alcohol consumption. But considering how strict laws already are for drunk driving, you might want to assess your coping mechanisms to avoid disaster. In Texas, for example, the first offense for drunk driving can lead to a few days to several months in jail. Drinking can lead to accidents and job loss, but it’s also an ineffective way to handle stress. From office jobs to volunteer positions like familial caregiving, daily stress can lead to a number of health problems. Finding better ways to deal with stress will result in better physical and mental well-being for you. Below are some ways to reduce stress.

Reduce Stress at Work

Work is often a source of stress and conflict. Interactions with other employees can even lead to anxiety and other issues. But you won’t be at your best if you walk into the office already “hangry.” Start the day off with a healthy breakfast and try to reduce the stress of your daily commute. If you prepare breakfast for the family, keep it simple and nutritious to keep stress low but satisfaction high.

Once you arrive on the job site, you’ll need to deal with issues that crop up throughout the day. Know the job requirements and try to fulfill them, knowing that you can’t always do it all. Avoid conflict by not getting involved in gossip, telling other employees personal information, and talking about politics and religion. Learn some techniques for dealing with conflict and do one task at a time. On your lunch break, take a walk or exercise whenever possible.

Job stress is a common occurrence. A Gallup poll found companies with high employee engagement are more profitable and employees are more productive. But in order to be highly engaged at your job, you can’t sweat the small stuff. Many people now work at home, which means the separation between your work and your personal life may be even more blurred. Practice setting boundaries to limit that stress from seeping into your home life.

Ways To Reduce the Stress of Caregiving

About 29% of the U.S. population cares for a chronically ill person, elderly relative, or a disabled or mentally ill relative. This leads to burnout and requires caregivers to seek help for themselves. Sometimes an assisted living center, live-in caregiver, or nursing home are viable options. But if these aren’t accessible in your situation, you’ll need to find ways to make this way of life more manageable.

Start by taking care of your own health by getting regular doctor appointments. Hire professional help to give you time for hobbies, work, and personal errands. When you have a large family or network of friends ask for help with some tasks. Family or friends might help by staying at the house for a few hours so you go out or shopping for groceries. Check with the doctor or hospital to get referrals to social workers and organizations that can help you find services to help. When you care for someone that needs constant attention, take a break at least 30 minutes or more. Join a support group that is dealing with similar issues to talk about the problem. Seek a therapist that specializes in helping caregivers with coping and stress.

Develop a Healthy Eating and Exercise Routine

We know that physical activity helps us relieve stress through the release of the body’s natural chemicals (including hormones such as endorphins). Find an exercise that you enjoy doing and try to maintain a regular routine. It can be walking, running, gardening, biking, hiking, swimming, working out at the gym, pilates, golf, or working in the yard. The more you like the form of exercise you engage in, the longer you will stay with it. Eat healthy foods fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain cereal and pasta, dairy products, grass-fed and hormone-free meats, fish, and poultry. Reduce the amount of alcohol consumed daily and find alternative beverages to consume. Research recipes online and write out a shopping list when grocery shopping. Try to get a good night’s sleep and do not put a TV in the bedroom. Don’t watch the national news every day because sometimes it is more negative than positive. By establishing a healthy eating and exercise routine, you can relieve a lot of the stress that might otherwise keep you up at night and prevent your body from healing itself.

Learn Some Simple Stress-Relieving Techniques

Learn to do some simple stress-relieving techniques that can be practiced anywhere. Breathing techniques can be learned and practiced at work, home, school, or traveling. There are many techniques that can be learned from books or looking up information online. Other helpful practices for relieving stress are meditation, guided imagery, yoga, tai chi, and exercise. All these techniques can be learned through books, videos, and taking lessons.

Finding ways to relieve stress in your daily life will improve your overall physical and mental health. There are many ways to incorporate this into your daily life. This April, start by reducing your stress where you can and improve your health in the process.

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