Whether or not the choice of April 16 for National Stress Awareness Day was ironic, the day after taxes are due is as good a day as any to take stock of your emotional well-being. The first step on the road to recovery if you're feeling stressed is to observe and acknowledge what's happening. Then, spend the day doing something to reduce stress and increase resiliency. If physical exercise is on your list, check with your doctor before beginning a strenuous exercise program if you haven't been doing cardio activity recently.
Don't Worry. Be Happy.
Your emotional attitude either helps or hinders you when coping with the inevitable stress of daily life. For just one day, focus on overcoming your anxiety about those conditions that give you stress -- the practice may become a positive habit. When traffic threatens to make you late to work, give a little laugh, smile ruefully and shake your head about your lack of control over traffic; do the same on that rainy weekend when you had planned on a picnic and instead bake a batch of muffins or visit a museum.
Increase Your Physical Activity
The American Psychological Association reports that exercise relieves stress, with 30 percent of American adults in one study saying they feel less stressed after exercising. To reap the benefits of exercise, you need to move until your heart beats faster than normal. On April 16, use the stairs instead of the elevator wherever you go, or take a very brisk walk during your lunch hour -- maintain your pace for at least 20 minutes for the most benefit.
Get Some Sleep
Since getting a good night's sleep helps ward off harmful effects of stress, take time on April 16 to plan how you will end the day. Don't drink caffeinated beverages late in the day, turn off the computer at least an hour before you plan to go to bed and spend 20 minutes doing yoga stretches in the evening. If you're a worrier, write down your concerns on paper and put them in a box on your dresser to pick up the next morning.
Find a Friend
Have a good laugh and connect with a friend to observe the day together and reduce stress at the same time. Go out to lunch with your friend, take a walk in the park or meet for an hour at your local coffee shop. If your friends all live in other places, take a step toward making new friends by joining a library book club, signing up for a class at a gym or volunteering for a local organization.
- Institute of HeartMath: Welcome to HeartMath’s Solutions for Stress
- Institute of HeartMath: Solutions for Emotional Well-Being
- American Psychological Association: Stress in America -- Are Teens Adopting Adults’ Stress Habits?
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Physical Activity Has Many Health Benefits
- Harvard Health Publications: Two Techniques for Reducing Stress
- Photo Credit Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images