April is Stress Awareness Month! Not all stress is bad. But chronic (ongoing) stress can lead to health problems. Preventing and managing chronic stress can lower your risk for serious conditions like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression.
Try these tips for stress prevention:
- Balance your responsibilities. All work and no play is bad! Try balancing your social, personal and professional life with activities you enjoy (like relaxing, spending time with friends).
- Manage your time. Use a calendar or planning app to keep track of assignments, chores, practices, and other obligations. Take time to reflect a bit every day and think about how things are going.
- Eat healthy foods. What you eat affects your mood, energy, and stress level. Eating healthy doesn’t mean avoiding all treats — it goes back to that balance thing again. It’s OK to treat yourself to ice cream occasionally if you ate a salad or turkey on whole wheat for lunch. But if ice cream and sweets are your main source of fuel, you’re likely to crash or feel cranky — and stressed!
- Get enough sleep/rest. This may seem like a no-brainer. After all, who doesn’t love to sleep? But getting the right amount of sleep is very important to reducing stress and improving your health.
- Make time to exercise every day. It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re taking deep breaths on a run, feeling the rush of a downhill bike ride, or playing a pickup game with friends. Exercise doesn’t just take our mind off of stress; it releases chemicals in our brains that make us feel better.