During the month of April, Thrive is placing a focus on Stress Awareness Month. In our toolkit, we outline ways to identify signs and symptoms of stress, and how to determine the root cause of stress in your life. These are important first steps in controlling and managing stress, but let's take it a step further and outline four ways that you can mitigate the effects stress can have on your body:
1) Be proactive. By following the steps in the toolkit, you should be able to identify the things that are consistently causing you stress. Once the cause is known, you can take steps to reduce the chances of this stressor wreaking havoc on your day. For example, if you are consistently late to work, you could leave earlier or have your clothing laid out the night before. If overspending is the cause of your stress, consider a monthly budget or an app to track your spending. Whatever the cause may be, take time to outline a few ways to proactively reduce the occurrence of your stressors.
2) Put it in perspective. Was the entire day bad, or just the last five minutes? Don't let one bad incident ruin your entire day. Remember the good things that occurred throughout the day and write them down. By doing this, you train your brain to look for the good instead of the bad – which can significantly increase your happiness. Try this exercise to tune into the positive and put things in perspective.
3) Take care of your body. The foods you eat, movement you do, and hours of sleep you acquire all contribute to a healthy physical well-being. A healthy physical body can better prepare you to manage the stressors that come your way. Aim for at least 30 minutes of movement every day and seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and check out a blog from the archives, "Mood Foods," for specific foods that can help you stress less.
4) Breathe! Our fight-or-flight instincts kick in when stressful events occur. Blood starts pumping away from non-vital organs to prepare the body to fight off an attack or to run from danger. Your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing dramatically increase and you are less able to think clearly. This natural reaction is great if you are in a life-or-death situation, but most of the time that is not the case. By mindfully breathing when stressful events occur, you are able to prevent or lessen the fight-or-flight response and increase your resilience to stress. Try this exercise if you find yourself overwhelmed by a stressful event or thought.