Stress Awareness Month - Washington DC VA Medical Center
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Stress Awareness Month

Graphic illustration: April is Stress Awareness Month

Graphic illustration: April is Stress Awareness Month

Friday, April 3, 2020

Stress is the body's normal reaction to changes that call for you to make adjustments in your life.  The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental and emotional responses, which can cause or aggravate health problems. Avoiding stress is next to impossible but you can equip yourself with the tools to help you manage it better. Effectively dealing with stress can improve your health, quality of life, and wellbeing.

Here are some stress management tips that may help:

  1. Pause.
    Take a deep cleansing breath and remind yourself, you’re doing the best you can.
  2. Breathe.
    Inhale though your nose for five seconds, and exhale from your mouth for five seconds. Slowing down your breath is incredibly effective at lowering your heart rate and calming your nervous system. Repeat as many times as necessary.
  3. Check-in daily with a friend.
    The check-in doesn’t have to be long – just a reminder that you’re not alone.
  4. Exercise daily.
    Exercise is key to mental and physical health. If you’re feeling pressed for time and wondering how to possibly fit in exercise, consider a ten-minute walk, or taking work calls to virtual meetings while walking or stretching at your desk.
  5. Practice healthy sleep habits.
    Getting good sleep can be easier said than done, especially when anxious, stressed, and/or depressed. When possible, try to make your bedroom a stress-free zone. Avoid using your phone, computer, or TV while in bed. This will help keep your sleeping area as a peaceful place for rest and relaxation.
  6. Create healthy eating habits.
    Keeping to a regular eating schedule can help curb snack cravings. Stay hydrated by drinking water, limit sugary and caffeinated beverages. Wash hands prior to preparing food.
  7. Speak up.
    Communicate your concerns and what you need at home and at work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  8. Practice kindness
    Be kind to yourself and others. During stressful times, it’s easy to become testy and short-tempered. Practicing kindness to yourself and others is key to maintaining health.
  9. Try to be positive.
    Shift negative self-statements to statements that allow you to function more effectively. Try changing “this is a terrible time” to “this is a terrible time, but I can get through it”.
  10. Download “an app for that”.
    Consider the many apps that support meditation, breathing, staying organized, acupressure, sleep hygiene, exercise routines, etc.

For more information about stress management, please visit: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/coronavirus/

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