April is National Stress Awareness Month and National Humor Month. What a perfect pair!
National Stress Awareness month began in 1992 to bring attention to the health risks associated with stress and strategies for coping with it. Stress is not always a bad thing and we also cannot get rid of it completely. It is a normal reaction to everyday pressures we face, but it can become unhealthy when it upsets your day-to-day functioning.
There are several types of stress we face at different times in our lives. Everyone has their own unique stressors, and everyone handles stress in different ways. So, what works for one person might not work for the next.
Acute Stress vs. Chronic Stress
|Acute Stress||Chronic Stress|
|Occurs in response to a short-term stressor||Occurs when stressors don’t let up|
|Car accident or argument with a spouse/friend/coworker||Examples can vary widely: toxic relationship to financial issues|
|Responds well to coping techniques||Everyone responds differently|
|Can pass quickly||Can damage your mental and physical health|
Eustress vs. Distress
|Eustress – Positive Stress||Distress – Negative Stress|
|Work promotion/raise||Job change/Unemployment|
|Taking a vacation/Traveling||Financial issues|
|Money||Losing contact with loved ones|
|Learning a new hobby||Fears|
|Personal achievement||Worrying about future events|
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Impacts of Stress
|Short Term Impacts||Long Term Impacts|
|Tense muscles||Decreased immune system|
|Headaches||Type 2 Diabetes|
|Loss of appetite||High Blood Pressure|
|Short temper||Heart Disease|
How to Manage Stress
- Do activities you like to do daily. Whether you do something for one minute or one hour, set time aside every day to do something for you. You deserve it!
- Eat well balanced nutritious meals and snacks instead of turning to junk food, sweets, and other less nutritious foods. Emotional eating fills your emotional needs rather than your stomach and doesn’t fix the situation going on in your life.
- Discover what makes you relax – deep breathing, meditation, exercise, yoga, puzzles, spending time with loved ones, the list is endless.
- Move daily for at least 20-30 minutes. Movement comes in all different forms: walking around the neighborhood, lifting weights, running a 5K, Zumba, a dance party with your kids, and whatever else can get you moving more during the day!
- Try to get a good night’s sleep of 7-9 hours each night. Sleep is not just a way to manage stress, there are many more benefits to it. For more on sleep, go read my blog for March – National Sleep Awareness Month in the Wellness Corner!
- Laugh a little bit each day. Even when you might not feel like it, find something that will make you laugh. Read below on National Humor Month and why humor can help lower stress.
National Humor Month
National Humor Month was founded in 1976 to utilize the value of humor to improve the quality of our lives and health. Humor is a therapeutic stress reliever, so it’s no coincidence that April begins with April Fool’s Day. This month is a time to remind ourselves to not take everything so seriously and to laugh more!
Laughter is the best medicine. Have you heard that saying before? There is evidence that laughter can improve one’s health and reduce stress. Strong laughter may even bring on tears or moderate muscle pain.
Benefits of Humor
- Decreased stress levels
- Improves your mood
- Increased health-enhancing hormones, such as endorphins
- Increased muscle relaxation
- Improved sleep quality
- Improved mental health
- Improved vascular functions by lowering blood pressure
Incorporate More Humor in Your Life
- Find what makes you laugh and do it more often. This could be a fun activity, reading jokes, watching funny videos on YouTube, watching a good comedy movie or TV show, laughter yoga, the list could go on.
- Surround yourself with people who make you laugh. There is a good chance that if they are around you, you will laugh. Sharing a good joke or funny story to others is also a great idea.
- Smile more! Not only is laughter contagious, but so is smiling.
Think about how you deal with your stress now. Hopefully you learned some new techniques you can fit into your life to help you better manage. Enjoy April and try to make it funny and less stressful! ?