It’s a fact: stress can make us sick. If we’re healthy, it can compromise our immune system. If we’re in the throes of a serious health crisis, it can further exacerbate an already worrisome situation. April is National Stress Awareness Month–a time to reflect on constructive methods to ease that pesky state where fear and anxiety rule our minds and can wreak havoc on our bodies.
Here are five tips to help reduce stress and preserve your peace of mind.
Find space and get centered.
Stress is contagious. When someone is ill, everyone in that person’s inner circle is likely to suffer. As the patient struggles with the illness, caregivers work long hours and family members grieve. Sadness, worry, helplessness and exhaustion have profound effects on our mind and body. No one is immune to the stress.
Three easy steps can help dial it down: stop, breathe and redirect your thought patterns. You can do it in a crowded room or in a quiet corner. The goal is to let go of the stress and get quietly centered.
Grab the wheel and direct your destiny
Everyone feels better when they are in control of their lives. Begin by acknowledging what you can’t control and stop trying to accomplish the impossible. Then identify what you can do. Small gestures can have big benefits, whether it’s focusing on eating healthy meals, taking your vitamins, or drinking herbal teas and fresh juices. Try short walks in the fresh air when you need to calm your soul and build stamina.
Rewire your mental state.
Create a pleasant and productive flow to your day by engaging in positive and life-affirming activities. Set small goals to create a new habit or break an old one. Build a new skill through an online course, read a good book or practice positive affirmations. Write new beliefs on sticky notes and place them on the bathroom mirror. Develop your inner strength while counting your blessings.
Trust in the universe
Letting your faith be larger than your fears can seem like a monumental task when someone you love is sick or declining due to old age. No matter what form your spirituality takes, it can do wonders for your soul. Many people find stillness and comfort through mediation, yoga, prayer, nature, or even a few minutes of silence.
Reframe your thinking.
Stress is a reaction to an event, not an event itself. While you can’t always control life’s stressors, you can control your responses and choose to respond in positive and healthy ways.
Remember to smile, laugh and engage in meaningful interactions, even when you don’t necessarily feel like it. Putting one foot in front of the other can be reaffirming and give you the momentum you need to move on. Even a good cry can help, since tears are believed to release certain stress toxins from the body. Since nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, try to live each day to its fullest potential with a positive mindset. It is the best antidote to the ill effects of stress.
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