April is Stress Awareness Month
Chronic stress can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia headaches and other symptoms that affect our health. During Stress Awareness Month in April, HopeWay – an accredited nonprofit mental health residential and day treatment center for adults – is offering helpful tips to reduce and manage stress.
“Stress relief comes in two different ways; proactively and reactively,” said Erin Dos Reis, LCSW, a primary therapist at HopeWay. “We need to prepare our body and mind to be in the best place to take on stressors throughout the day.”
The following are tips from HopeWay on how to prepare ourselves to deal with stress:
· Follow a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
· Drink water and limit caffeine intake. Caffeine can increase anxiety.
· Practice mindful eating.
· Engage in regular mindfulness. Be present in daily life and meditate.
· Make self-care a priority and set boundaries around it. It is ok to say “no” to others if you have planned to engage in self-care. Self-care is not selfish.
· Exercise regularly. Consider adding yoga to your routine since it incorporates exercise and meditation.
HopeWay suggests the following tips to manage stress:
· Take a deep breath. To help regulate your breathing, practice box breathing – inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, hold for four counts.
· Move your body. Going for a walk or jog can be meditative.
· Don’t suffer in silence. Talk about it, even if you feel like the problem can’t be solved. When you talk about the stressors, hormones that help reduce negative feelings associated with stress are released. If someone isn’t available to talk, write it down.
· Prioritize your basic needs first, and then examine next steps. Set small manageable goals.
· Keep a balanced schedule and avoid throwing all of your attention into managing the stressor. Being able to step away from a stressful project or situation is necessary to maintain a healthy balance.
· Be aware of irrational thoughts. If you are assuming the worst possible outcome, chances are there are other less extreme outcomes that could possibly happen. Sit down and break down the different scenarios. Or put the thought on trial by examining the evidence – not your feelings – for and against the thought.
Adds Dos Reis, “We frequently say that we don’t want to feel stressed; however, we need a certain level of stress and anxiety in order to get anything done. Without stress we might not hand in a homework assignment or project at work on time. The goal is to be able to manage stress so we are still able to function in a healthy manner.”
HopeWay is an accredited nonprofit residential and day mental health treatment center for adults located at 1717 Sharon Road West in southwest Charlotte and serving clients from our region and from across the nation. HopeWay’s continuum of care meets the needs of adults living with mental illness and their families with residential care and day treatment programs as well as after-care planning, with a goal of helping clients live successfully and independently in the community. HopeWay’s goal is also to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues through a community education program. To learn more, visit www.hopeway.org