April is Street Awareness Month – Are you stressed?

You have all probably seen this list before of the major causes of stress in a person’s life:

Death of a loved one
Getting married
Getting divorced
Losing a job
Moving to a new home/location
Increase in financial obligation or money problems
Chronic illness or injury
Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, guilt, grief, etc)

Pretty common sense things that may cause stress for someone, right? This month, in particular, did you know that April 15 – Tax Day – is also one of the most stressful days of the year? In fact, according to some reports, people are more likely to get into a car accident on April 15 than on another other non-tax day because they are stressed and, subsequently, not focused and paying attention to the road.

At some point, even the most relaxed person will experience stress of some kind. Children, teens and adults will all experience stress and they will often experience stress in different ways. Since April is Stress Awareness Month, I wanted to do a post about stress and offer some healthy ways that you can cope with stress better to maintain better overall health. First, let’s take a look at what stress really is all about.

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stress can be felt from both positive events like getting ready for a wedding or by negative events like losing a job. Stress is the combination of tensions the body experiences that are physical and emotional. It is one’s reaction to a situation where a person may feel anxious or in danger and can then trigger a “fight or flight” response.

Everyone reacts to and deals with stress differently and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are some of the most common reactions to a stressful event(s):

Disbelief, shock and numbness. Feelings of sadness, frustration and helplessness. Fear and anxiety about the future. Feeling guilty.

Anger, tension, irritability. Difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions. Crying or emotional outbursts. Lack of interest.

Loss of appetite. Sleeping too much or too little. Nightmares or bad dreams. Smoking or use of alcohol or drugs.

As you can see, the reactions to stress are both emotional and physical which is why it is so important to have some techniques available that will address both issues ahead of time, making you more capable of dealing with a stressful situation before it happens!

Don’t let life stress you out:

Eat well-balanced and healthy meals that are nutrient rich
Exercise daily – the endorphins help to elevate your mood naturally making stress easier to handle
Get plenty of sleep – when you are well rested, your brain functions more clearly
Talk to someone you trust – sometimes it helps to get things off your chest and share your feelings with someone
Meditate – meditation will help you to remain grounded and focused on what you need to do next
Avoid self-medication – stay away from drugs and alcohol as they both will tend to make things seem more dramatic than they really are
Walk Away/Unplug – sometimes you just have to remove yourself from the source of stress and gain some perspective

The most important thing is that if you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, recognize the signs and ask for help. It is ok to admit that you cannot cope with a situation or situations and ask for guidance. If you cannot find it from family and friends, contact a professional who can direct you to a good resource.

Below is a link to a video put out by the StayingSharp program through AARP:

https://stayingsharp.aarp.org/art/relax/16/brain-on-stress.html?CMP=EMC-DSM-NLC-SPC-SSS-20170412_SS_April_NL_1_Registered_248902_309207-20170412-Body-Watch_Video-Button

For more information on how to cope with stress or if you are in need of immediate help, please contact one of the following hotlines:

Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-9454)

Youth Mental Health Line: 1-888-568-1112

Child-Help USA: 1-800-422-4453

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