Every day is a day of thanksgiving isn’t just a catchy song title, it’s a reason to get up, get dressed, meet the day and see what amazing things are happening. Yes, I am a glass half full thinker and I make no apology, especially since COVID and its restrictions offered new opportunities to be better, kinder, and gentler. Observing National Stress Awareness Month during April is an excellent way to be proactive about healthier living and virtually everything else.
We all experience stress, but like politics and religion, we speak about it sparingly. Stress takes many forms—positive—your granddaughter’s wedding or preparing for vacation, and negative—downsizing at work, flooded basement or a broken tooth before a job interview. As longtime commentator Paul Harvey reminded us, here’s the rest of the story: how we act and react determines our levels of stress.
I learned the hard way that I can get angry, stomp my foot and get loud but all that does is run my blood pressure up. When I was a child, it got me a good butt whipping too. It doesn’t get me an appointment, doesn’t make any friends, and it doesn’t end well. Today’s lesson is stop and think before you go down this path of self-destruction.
Stress is something we can feel and literally touch. Our muscles and nerves tense and judgment gets clouded – our normal, rational thinking evaporates like the morning dew and we’re left with a whole new set of challenges. Stress can do the same thing as a bullet and almost as quickly so it behooves us to control our stress and stressors before they control us.
Here are a few tips:
(1) Pay attention to your buttons, particularly the ones that are close to the surface. Before you allow someone to occupy space in your head or to have access to your mental wellbeing, name five reasons why they should be there and have that power. Money, politics, disease, violence, relationships, and work all top the list of things that can (but don’t have to) cause stress.
(2) Remember your health. Stroke, heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, and other maladies can result when you make/take everything personally instead of handling things with focus, reason, and understanding that sometimes things just are what they are. The Serenity Prayer, attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, is one we should learn and live daily: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Know the difference, journal, or go for a drive but live to fight another day.
(3) Eat better, sleep well, and take a walk. These three things seem too simple to be effective but trust me, they work. Walking clears my head, helps me see and understand, and keeps me from dwelling on negativity. Sleeping is probably my biggest challenge because I like to stay up late, sleep late and go from there.
I’ve decided naps are as wonderful as hot chocolate chip cookies, chilled Sprite Remix, and peach cobbler so they are my go-to luxury. I admit, cookies and cobblers are divine but fruits and vegetables are a better solution and they’re great to help you maintain your weight and good health. Five to seven servings a day (fruits and vegetables—not cobbler and cookies) will keep you running smoothly.
(4) Finally, ask for help and seek it before things get out of hand. Be proactive and know that awareness is our friend. Happy April, literally!
What according to you are the best ways to cope with stress? Share your thoughts with me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.