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Let’s Take Care of Ourselves This Stress Awareness Month

man pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration

Here are some suggestions for strategies to help us keep our stress levels more manageable.

April is Stress Awareness Month and, as the name suggests, this month is dedicated to raising public awareness of the impact that stress may have on our mental, emotional, and physical health.  Living in a constant state of stress may make us more irritable, anxious, and restless while simultaneously making us less productive and focused.  In addition to these mental and emotional issues, stress may manifest itself in what is known as somatic symptoms which may include some or all of the following:  insomnia, headaches, muscle pain, nausea, chest pain, and chronic fatigue.

Unfortunately for many of us, keeping our stress levels down is far easier said than done.  While managing our stress may be challenging, it is not impossible.  Here are some of the strategies that we suggest to hopefully reduce our symptoms of stress.

  • Exercise

Strenuous exercise is a great way to distract ourselves from stressful thoughts and work off some of the built-up tension in our bodies.  Organically speaking, exercise releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in our brains that reduce our perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in our bodies, similar to that of morphine.   Additionally, physical activity may assist in clearing our minds and providing us the opportunity to allow us to revisit stressful issues with more clarity and level-headedness.

  • Mindfulness – is more than meditation.  According to various experts in the field, mindfulness can be defined in the following ways:

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World

“Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself.” 

White Wind Zen Community

“Mindfulness is wordless. Mindfulness is meeting the moment as it is, moment after moment after moment, wordlessly attending to our experiencing as it actually is. It is opening to not just the fragments of our lives that we like or dislike or view as important, but the whole of our experiencing.” 

Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”

Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California at Los Angeles

“Mindful Awareness is the moment-by-moment process of actively and openly observing one’s physical, mental and emotional experiences.”

Now that we have seen how various organizations define mindfulness, let’s take a look at how some individuals define mindfulness. 

Definitions of Mindfulness According to Experts:

The following people have all dedicated their lives to mindfulness, but how do they define it?

Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” 

  • Meditation

Meditation is a great relaxation technique that may help us calm down and re-focus.  While meditation can take many different forms, suggested is to enter a calmer state of mind by closing our eyes, focusing on our breathing, and working to physically relax our bodies.  Once we are calmer, we may be able to better manage stressful situations.

  • Leisure Time

Self-care is essential to our health and wellness.  When we are always on the go, we are not allowing our minds and bodies the rest that they require.  This is why it’s important that we schedule the time for leisure in our daily lives.  Simply putting aside an hour a night to cook, read, watch tv, or do other things that we enjoy will help us live more balanced, less stressful lives.  If we don’t make the time for ourselves, it may not make it into our agenda.  While some may say it is selfish to put ourselves as a priority, if we don’t do so, who will?

We at The Maria Sanchez Show hope you will join us as we reduce our stress levels this Stress Awareness Month.  Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown. Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PDT/7:00 p.m. EDT.

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