During the month of April, health care professionals and stress management experts around the nation remind the public to pay attention to mental and physical health and offer solutions to help relieve stress. Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 and was developed in response to the rising stress epidemic.
In 2017, Gallup, an analytics and advisory polling company run by Jim Clifton, reported that 79% of Americans feel stress during their day. Of that percentage, 44% reported they frequently experience stress in their daily life. This was up 11% from 2003.
The American Institute of Stress researched the most common sources of stress in 2017 and found that the future of our nation, money, work, political climate, and violence/crime were the most common sources. These are vastly different to the top causes found in 2014, which were job pressure, money, health, relationships, and poor nutrition.
In today’s fast-paced society, with the addition of a heated political climate, it is hard to escape the constant demands of everyday life. However, there are ways to combat the pressures that individuals face. Check out these five ways to manage and reduce stress:
1. Self-awareness & Emotion Control
In order for individuals to conquer stress, experts say they must first become self-aware of their feelings, environment and character in order to take emotional control. Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist and New York Times best-selling author, has spent four years researching what it really means to be self-aware, and shared her findings in an eye-opening TED talk.
In the talk, Eurich presents research that shows that people who are self-aware are able to have stronger relationships. Harvard Researcher and Positive Psychology Expert Shawn Achor has found similar results. He found that self-awareness is essential to business relationships. Having spoken to many large businesses and institutions, Achor has seen the improvements stress management can bring to an organization and believes mental wellness is the secret to better work. He has said that social support is the greatest predictor of success during times of stress.
Alia Crum, the principal investigator for Stanford’s Mind and Body Lab, found that people’s stress is directly linked to their mindsets. She has shared the solutions to shifting these malleable mindsets in order to reduce stress and increase motivation and growth to her audiences.
2. Healthy Lifestyle & Exercise
While positive mental health is essential to stress reduction, physical health can play just as large of a factor. Olympic Gold Medalist and Health Expert Shannon Miller explains that wellness is not just one thing. “It’s not just nutrition or physical activity or sleep or stress management, it’s all of those combined.” As a mother, former athlete, and cancer survivor, she therefore takes an ‘everything in moderation’ approach to diet and exercise. Exercise not only leads to better sleep, which has been proven to reduce stress, but also to overall better mental and physical wellbeing.
Exercise of any kind is proven to pump up endorphins, which are the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, and directly improve mood and mental health. Stress Relief Expert Lauren E. Miller says that serotonin from sleep and endorphins from exercise are easy ways to naturally reduce blood pressure, feel energized, and reduce stress. Incorporating even the littlest bit of exercise, like peaceful walks, aerobics or yoga, into daily routines can make the biggest difference for stress management.
Stress can often have a harsh effect on mental health, and many experts and advocates suggest improving diets and increasing exercise can have a positive benefit. Mariel Hemingway, an actress and mental health advocate, has shared similar advice about how healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise can nip mental stress.
Stress and lifestyle expert Kathleen Hall is the founder and CEO of the Stress Institute and the Mindful Living Network. She termed the acronym S.E.L.F care to stand for serenity, exercise, love, and food, four steps she says can lead to less stress and more mindful living.
Mindfulness has been defined as the ability to be fully present and aware of everything that surrounds oneself. Jay Winner, Stress expert and author of Relaxation on the Run and Stress Management Made Simple, says mindfulness is key to reducing stress. He teaches audiences mindful stress management techniques, including breathing and emotional connection exercises.
Dr. Holly G. Atkinson has presented research on mindfulness that shows how meditation can affect the brain and create a unity of consciousness. This positive mindset can change the brain and order to reduce the negative stress that can cause inflammation.
4. Planning & Time Management
As one of the top five causes of stress, work can often have a significant negative effect on people’s mental health. One important way to combat this additional stress, at work and at home, is through thoughtful planning and time management. Hall of Fame motivational business speaker Steve Rizzo has talked to many crowds about how getting your “shift” together at work can eliminate stress and help maintain emotional stability.
RELATED: Regina Dugan: Love and Work
Even when things are going well at work, it is important to keep life organized and maintain a work-life balance. Human Behavior Expert and Motivation Speaker Colette Carlson talks about the importance of YOU management versus TIME management. She says that the key to stressing less is eliminating unrealistic expectations and learning when to let go or when to take control.
Dr. Kristen Lee’s book RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress: Your 24-7 Plan for Well-Being, helps readers develop a unique plan that will help them when they face stress-inducing challenges. She says being able to RESET, which stands for Realize, Energize, Soothe, End unproductive thinking, and Talk it out, will help individuals be prepared to face and manage stress.
5. Humor & Laughter
The American Psychological Association, a scientific and professional organization of psychologists including past president Martin Seligman, has published studies showing how humor and laughter can enhance learning.
As a professional stand up comedian, professor and psychotherapist, Dr. Will Miller combines his professions to speak on living well-adjusted lives in times of pressure and stress. He uses a humorous approach to talk about serious issues and offer real solutions. Tim Gard is another captivating speaker who strategically uses humor to increase individual and team morale.
Karyn Buxman calls herself a “neurohumorist” because she studies the intersection of humor and the brain. She has found that the brain can be trained to look for funny or positive things and that humor can be used to intentionally distract, reframe or refuel from stress.
If in need of a good laugh, check out these most popular comedians.
All American Entertainment (AAE) is a next-generation speaker and entertainment agency. We help our clients select, book and execute events with speakers and entertainment that will leave a lasting impact on their audiences.