April is Stress Awareness Month which means taking time to unwind and educate yourself on ways to improve your stress management tactics.

While you can’t avoid stress, you can minimize it by changing how you choose to respond to it. The ultimate reward for your efforts is a healthy, balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun. Here are some tips on how to manage it:

  1. Eat and drink sensibly. Alcohol and food abuse may seem to reduce stress, but it actually adds to it.
  2. Set realistic goals and expectations. It’s okay, and healthy, to realize you cannot be 100% successful at everything at once.
  3. Sell yourself to yourself. When you are feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you do well. Have a healthy sense of self-esteem.
  4. Exercise regularly. Choose an exercise and set reasonable goals. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins (natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude).
  5. Examine your values and live by them. The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you will feel, no matter how busy your life is. Use your values when choosing your activities
  6. Assert yourself. You do not have to meet others’ expectations or demands. It’s okay to say “No.” Remember, being assertive allows you to stand up for your rights and beliefs while respecting those of others.
  7. Stop smoking or other bad habits. Aside from the obvious health risks of cigarettes, nicotine acts as a stimulant and brings on more stress symptoms. Give yourself the gift of dropping unhealthy habits.
  8. Study and practice relaxation techniques. Relax every day. Choose from a variety of different techniques. Combine opposites; a time for deep relaxation and a time for aerobic exercise is a sure way to protect your body from the effects of stress.
  9. Take responsibility. Control what you can and leave behind what you cannot control.
  10. Reduce stressors (cause of stress). Many people find that life is filled with too many demands and too little time. For the most part, these demands are ones we have chosen. Effective time-management skills involve asking for help when appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself, and taking time out for yourself.

There are several other methods you can use to relax or reduce stress, including:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Mental imagery relaxation
  • Relaxation to music
  • Biofeedback
  • Counseling, to help you recognize and release stress
  • Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these techniques

Blog written by the Clevland Clinic, for more on stress management visit my.clevelandclinic.org.

At the NAC, we know the importance of balanced physical and mental health, which comes from nutrition, exercise and stress management together. The HealthyCare Program helps manage stress, creates a personal fitness plan for you, meal planning, group support sessions and more. If you are interested in taking the next step towards a healthier you, please fill out our form below.

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