Ever since 1992, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month with the goal to increase public awareness about what causes stress and how to help combat stress. Stress became a major topic of discussion as many individuals began to suffer from stress-related illnesses such as anxiety and difficulty sleeping during and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The added stress of the pandemic, changes in work and school protocols, and quarantine life took its toll. It’s important to know you are not alone and there are ways to help alleviate stress. Below are great tips and tricks to help you cope with stress:
- Increasing sunlight exposure
Getting 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight is said to increase the brain’s release of serotonin. This is associated with boosting a person’s mood, reducing stress, and helping a person feel calm and more focused.
- Incorporating aromatherapy
Lighting a candle or using essential oils may help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Known as aromatherapy, using scents have been shown to even improve sleep and mood. Some of the most calming scents are lavender, rose, bergamot, sandalwood, geranium, and orange blossom.
- Make time for family and friends.
During stressful times, support from friends and family can help you navigate through stressful periods. Studies have shown that spending time with friends helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever, in women. Overall, men and women both benefit from maintaining friendships.
- Reduce your caffeine intake
Did you know that caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks, can increase stress and anxiety levels? Coffee can be healthy in moderation but if you find yourself jittery or anxious, consider reducing your intake.
- Chewing a stick of gum.
For a quick stress reliever, try chewing on gum. Studies have shown that when chewing gum, it causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people. Additionally, chewing gum promotes blood flow to the brain.
- Begin exercising.
Exercise is the best way to help reduce stress. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety. Exercise lowers the body’s stress hormone known as cortisol. It can improve your sleep quality and help you feel confident and competent.