April is Stress Awareness Month!

Though you may not have heard of it before, Stress Awareness Month has been happening for many years now, and it always takes place in April. However, stress awareness is particularly important this year as we continue to feel many of the effects of the pandemic, even as restrictions are beginning to ease. Lately, many of us are overworked, isolated, and not as well-off as we used to be due to the rising costs of living.

This month, try to combat stress before it becomes too overwhelming, by taking care of your needs and putting yourself first. Not sure how to do that? I have some suggestions below to get you started:

Reconnect with friends - I know that it can be a bit hard to be the person reaching out and reconnecting with your friends, especially if they did not make efforts to talk to you during the pandemic. Despite this, I made the effort and many of my friends were incredibly grateful that I reached out to them, and I reconnected with them in various ways depending on their comfort levels. With some friends, I simply texted them on the phone; with others, I talked on the phone; and with those who were comfortable, I met up with them to reconnect and we played board games, went for dinner, etc. Having fun with your friends is a great way to pass the time and a fantastic outlet to relieve some of your stress.

 Get plenty of sleep - Do you ever find yourself being less patient and generally grumpier, just because you didn’t get a good night of rest? Well, research has shown that poor sleep quality can be a major cause of psychological stress, and negatively impact your health. If you find it hard to get all the sleep you need during the night, consider taking naps throughout the day. It is important to note that sleep quality and not quantity is what’s important – some people do fine with just 6 hours of sleep per day, whereas others need 8. Figure out how much you need, and try your best to meet your body’s sleep quota.

Improve your work situation - Based on your work situation, some of my suggestions outlined might not apply to you, but there will be at least one recommendation that you can implement. If you’re the type to eat your lunch at your desk: stop it. Go outside and eat your lunch, or go to your kitchen, or the break room. This way, you’re both physically and mentally taking a break from your work, and you can focus on enjoying your meal. If your workplace offers you the flexibility to work different hours, experiment a bit to see what works for you. I find that my quality of life at work has improved simply because I’m able to avoid rush hour by coming into work early, and leaving earlier than everyone else. Perhaps your commute is already nice and short, so coming in later might make more sense and give you a chance to catch up on your sleep. Take smaller breaks more frequently – being glued to your computer isn’t very healthy. Take mini breaks to stare away from the screen, to do some mini stretches and exercises (or go for a walk), and you will quickly see what an enormous impact it can have on reducing your stress, and making you feel more energized.

Exercise regularly - Just get your body moving. It doesn’t matter how. If you like swimming, swim. If you’re a jogger, start jogging. Maybe basketball is what you enjoy? The point is, keeping your body active and simply exercising has been shown to be an effective way of managing and relieving stress. Now go out there and work on that summer bod.

This year, try to make an effort towards combating stress before it begins to severely affect your day-to-day life. The above suggestions are a few ways you can get started on your journey towards being a more resilient individual!

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Markham Public Library