National Stress Awareness Day 2021: Why You Should Take a Moment to Unwind
Stress will always be a health issue affecting many of us. However, during the pandemic, people experienced more stress than ever before. According to the American Psychological Association, 32% of American adults admitted to being so stressed because of the pandemic that they struggled to make even basic choices. National Stress Awareness Day is a great opportunity to confront this issue, learn more about it, and take steps to combat it.
National Stress Awareness Day Is November 3rd
National Stress Awareness Day falls on the first Wednesday of every November. The purpose of the designation is to bring awareness to the issue of stress in modern times. Everyone experiences stress, which isn’t always a bad thing, but when it persists and becomes overwhelming, it can cause health problems.
For optimal mental and physical health, it’s important to understand what stress is. You should be able to recognize when stress becomes a problem and take steps to cope with it in healthy ways. Use this day to learn more about stress and what you can do about it.
What Is Stress and Why Does It Matter?
Stress is a reaction to a challenge. It’s a normal human response that helps the brain and body adapt to a new situation. For instance, if you perceive a threat to your safety, your stress response will keep you alert and prepared to react.
Stress is normal and often a good thing over the short term. It protects you in dangerous situations and motivates you to perform, for example, at work or during an exam. Stress becomes a problem when it persists over long periods, and you can’t relax or unwind. Chronic stress can cause or contribute to several health problems:
- Digestive upset
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
You may be struggling with chronic, harmful stress if you have some of these symptoms and feel overwhelmed all the time.
How to Minimize and Cope With Stress
If this is a major issue in your life, one of the best things you can do is eliminate sources of stress. For example, if your job causes the most stress, you may want to consider switching employers or careers. Of course, removing all sources of stress isn’t possible, but you can cope better with the right strategies:
- Meditate. This ancient technique for focusing the mind reduces stress and provides a sense of calmness and relaxation. Try some of the short, guided meditations on BetterSleep if you’re new to meditation. We recommend Resting Awareness for Stress, Gratitude for Stressful Times and S.O.S De-Stress.
- Journal. Keeping a journal is another great way to manage stress, because it allows you to identify and process negative emotions, and cope with difficult circumstances.
- Spend time with pets. Having pets boosts both physical and mental health. Interactions with animals lower the stress hormone cortisol. If you’re not in a position to have pets, consider volunteering to socialize with animals at a shelter.
- Exercise. Regular exercise is an excellent way to mitigate stress. It lowers stress hormones and boosts endorphins, the brain chemicals that improve mood and increase relaxation.
- Practice acceptance. Many people get overwhelmed by circumstances they can’t control. Unfortunately, you can’t change all of the things that stress you out. . Research indicates that people who take time to accept the things that are out of their control experience less stress.
As the pandemic continues and the busy holiday season looms ahead, take time to evaluate the stress in your life. Recognize the signs of toxic, chronic stress and take steps to develop healthy coping mechanisms for better health. You’re sure to see a huge difference in your mood, sleep and overall well-being.
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