Did you know that April is National Stress Awareness Month? A month-long national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, and to provide coping strategies. April 16 – not coincidentally the day after Tax Day – is National Stress Awareness Day; a great day to take a deep breath and relax.
Carrington students know that going back to school can be stressful. You have to find the time to combine classes, homework, jobs, kids, partners, family and friends. But not all stress is bad stress – a little stress can even be good for you. It can sharpen the mind for a test, provide energy during an evening class after a long day, or even keep you on top of your game during your externship.
But even though it’s a part of daily life for all of us, you have to do your best to make sure that you’re managing your stress levels – and that they’re not managing you. Short and long-term stress can negatively affect your body. It’s commonly known that stress can cause a number of health problems from heart disease, to acne, to obesity, to depression and anxiety; it can also make problems we already have much worse. Even mild stress levels can cause trouble sleeping, stomach problems, headaches, and mental health conditions. Here are a five things that you can do right now to lower stress levels.
1. Laugh your socks off
Stressed? Take a break and watch something funny! A study showed that “mirthful laughter” (a good belly laugh) is linked with lower blood levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The Mayo Clinic reported that laughter also promotes endorphin release in the brain and relaxes the muscles, which are all key for stress relief.1
2. Dig it
Being a care giver can be incredibly stressful, but grabbing a shovel and some seeds may help relieve that stress. A survey showed that gardening may help to reduce stress among caregivers. The survey showed that 60% of caregivers feel relaxed when they garden.2
3. Grab a good book
A UK study, sponsored by a chocolate maker, suggested that reading is good for stress reduction. Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down their heart rate and ease tension in the muscles. In fact it got the test subjects’ stress levels lower than before they started.3
Exercise clears your mind and returns the body to a more healthful state. But you don’t need to hit the gym to gain the benefits of exercise; even a 10-minute walk can decrease anxiety.4
5. Eat some chocolate
I saved the best for last – only those of you who got this far will get this tasty morsel! Eating dark chocolate can help to lower stress. A study, by a Swiss chocolate manufacturer, illustrated that eating 1.4 oz of dark chocolate a day for a two-week period is linked with decreased levels of cortisol.5
Tell us in the comments below: What do you do to de-stress?
1 American Journal of Medical Sciences 1989 Dec;298(6):390-6. – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2556917
2 Alzheimer’s Association – http://www.alz.org/national/documents/release_110308_garden.pdf
5 Nestle Research Center – Journal of Proteome Research. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/pr900607v