Did you know that April is the National Stress Awareness Month? It’s common to hear someone say that they are “stressed out” but what is stress and how are we aware of it? According to Psychology Today, we are aware of stress when we feel a disconnect between the situation in which we find ourselves and our resources to deal with it. Sometimes the stressful situation is very real, like when we are attacked by a dog. At other times the situation is imagined like thinking about heavy traffic each morning. Real or imagined, our bodies act the same way.
Everyone is aware of stress at some time or another
Can stress be a good thing?
In actuality, stress can be a good thing in moderation. Stress can motivate us to push on and do things we would prefer not to do. Think about deadlines on a project and how that stress awareness keeps you working toward a finish. Stress will make you more resilient. Stress can protect you from harm. The body’s fight or flight response is meant to be protective.
But when stress becomes chronic, and you feel overwhelmed and out of control of your life, it can negatively impact your health and wellbeing.
What steps can we take to reduce the stress in our lives?
First identify what is causing the stress. Naming it can help you deal with it.
- Is it not getting enough sleep?
- Is it a looming deadline?
- Is it worrying about the world situation?
- Is it a health condition?
- Is it clutter in your home or workplace?
Next work on taking control of your situation to diminish the stress.
- Go to bed earlier and leave electronics out of the bedroom.
- Make a flow chart for your upcoming projects with “due” dates and “do” dates.
- Minimize your TV, radio, and social media time.
- See a doctor and follow the doctor’s directives.
- Work on making your home your refuge. Tackle one area at a time to make your home restful. Remove clutter. While spring cleaning and decluttering, you are also doing stress cleaning and decluttering.
Small changes = big impact
Making even small changes in your life can have a big impact on your stress levels. Work on living in the present moment instead of worrying about things in the future that you cannot control.
Keeping a gratitude journal helps you to focus on the good around you. Make a plan to do one thing every day that will give you joy and add it to your journal.
Spending time with positive friends will lift your spirits and reduce your stress. Have coffee or tea together. Laugh. Tell funny stories. Enjoy each other and the moment.
Do something nice for someone else. You will reduce your stress and probably theirs as well. It can be as simple as giving a smile or letting someone get in front of you at checkout. Or it can be visiting a shut-in, taking them a meal, or some flowers.
Stress Awareness Challenge
My challenge to you is to identify one thing that is bringing you down and causing you stress. Then put together a plan of action to change that one thing.
If you are struggling with putting together a plan of action or just want some help or accountability in following through with a plan, join Diane Quintana and me in our Clear Space for You virtual support group.
Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of four books as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients.