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April is Stress Awareness Month

By Meg Dickens

Stress is a frequent problem for all ages, and everyone reacts to stress differently. Forbes states that work stress in on the rise but many other sources exist. The American Psychological Association (APA) 2017 Stress in AmericaTM survey found that the most common sources of stress include America’s future (63 percent), money (62 percent) and work (61 percent).

April is Stress Awareness Month. The Health Resource Network (HRN) sponsors this annual national educational effort. This lessens dangerous misconceptions and teaches successful coping methods.

“Even though we’ve learned a lot about stress in the past twenty years,” says Dr. Morton C. Orman, M.D., Founder and Director of HRN, “we’ve got a long way to go. New information is now available that could help millions of Americans eliminate their suffering.”

Stress is an unavoidable part of daily life. However, lessening stress is entirely possible. Chronic stress leads to an overwhelming amount of negative side effects both physically and mentally.

Mental side effects
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Stress negatively impacts mood and is linked to depression. It also causes trouble focusing, including on work-related tasks.

Physical side effects
Stress does more than just affect the mind. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic stress can suppress the immune system. The Mayo Clinic lists headache, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, and decreased sex drive as common symptoms. An upset stomach and insomnia can also develop.

These side effects are a breeding ground for more stress. Stop the cycle. Defeat stress with these simple tips.

Take a break
The APA shows that taking a break is a healthy way to reduce stress. Find something else to work on in the meantime. Stand up for a moment and move around. Something as simple as walking to grab a drink helps. Sitting at a desk all day without a break contributes to decision fatigue. Decision fatigue compromises decision-making skills which may lead to poor decisions or not being confident in decisions.

Plan
Planning is a proactive way to avoid stress. There are numerous free apps available to help. The best way to avoid stress is to prevent it in the first place.

Practice cognitive framing
Cognitive reframing is a technical term that means to change your perception. Try to look at the problem from a different perspective. The mere idea can trigger stress.