April is Stress Awareness Month
While March delivered on the "madness," with more crazy weather, more volatility in the stock market than we would have liked, it certainly made "March Madness" an even more appropriate slogan than was probably originally intended.
Ah! April is finally here, and not only does it bring us spring, new blooms and beautiful weather, it also brings us Stress Awareness Month.
Well, I don't know that I need more awareness of stress, but the month is all about increasing general awareness as to the seriousness of chronic stress and the damaging effects it can have, so that we can all find ways to lessen it or at least deal with it better for long-term good health.
April also brings more awareness of your own stresses with insight and the means to decrease the stress that you are experiencing in your life.
What you don't know about stress can kill you. Here are a few other things about stress that you may or may not know:
Stress is directly linked to all six of the leading causes of death. Seriously. Accidents, cancer, heart disease, suicide, lung disorders, and cirrhosis of the liver all have studies that show definite links to stress.
Stress alters blood sugar levels which poses a threat for diabetes and can cause fatigue, mood changes and blood sugar disorders.
As stress floods the brain with strong hormones that are meant for short-term emergency situations, prolonged and chronic exposure can actually damage, shrink, and kill brain cells.
Stress increases cytokines, which produce inflammation.
Stress decreases the body's immune system's response to infection.
The stress hormone cortisol not only causes abdominal fat to accumulate, but it also enlarges individual fat cells and can lead to what researchers are calling "diseased" fat.
Stress is one of the main factors causing insomnia and other sleep disorders.
How to dial it back
Laughter is actually one of the best natural remedies for stress. Really. Honest to goodness real laughter lowers the active levels of cortisol, adrenaline and epinephrine in your body, while also releasing more dopamine — the feel good hormone. Yes, laughter is DOPE!
Other than getting in some good hearty laughter, it is vital that you work to reduce stress in your life in every way you can. There are many approaches to this that can help.
1. Isolate your stressors — what people and/or circumstances are causing you stress — can be very enlightening and relieving in itself.
2. Talking about it directly with those people who are causing you stress to work out how to better function with less stress may ease the situation, where this is possible.
3. Talking about it with someone else can often help — a friend or when needed getting professional help.
4. Meditation, massage, aromatherapy and many other self-help techniques can also go a long way in reducing stress.
5. Yoga, exercise or taking a walk routinely can be very de-stressing.