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Cady is a staff writer here at The Hudsucker. She is an English major and Writing minor at Grand Valley State University. Her dream is to be a novelist or to work for a publishing company. She enjoys reading, traveling, and watching Boy Meets World, The Voice and Back to the Future. Follow her on Twitter as @cadyelizabeth9

Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month. It’s also the month that US and Canadian taxes are due, the month when college students take exams, and when “wedding season” unofficially begins. Our lives are full of stress, frustrations, problems, and bad days, so it’s no wonder that an entire month has been designated to talk about the effects stress has on us, and how we can make the stress in our lives a little bit less.

Most people think of stress as that annoying feeling we get when too many things are happening at once, or when there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. That annoying feeling can actually take a harmful tole on our health in the form of all sorts of ailments and conditions. Stress can adversely affect our behavior, emotions, and bodies.

Image credit: Flickr Eamon Curry eamoncurry123

Image credit: Flickr Eamon Curry eamoncurry123

Worrying, anxiousness, moodiness, and inability to concentrate are symptoms of being stressed. Not only can our mental well-being decline if we’re too stressed for too long, but our bodies can feel the pressure as well. Aches and pains arise more quickly when we’re mentally worn out. We can also become more susceptible to colds and give ourselves frequent nausea or headaches if we don’t put our stress in check.

It usually seems like stress is something we can’t control: if there is a lot we need to get done, we’ll be stressed and there’s nothing we can do about it. But actually, that’s not true. We all get stressed and we can all try to fight it.

Take a step back from what is causing the stress. When we start feeling overwhelmed, we should take breaks. Even if it seems like there’s no time for a break, it may actually help calm us down if we just stop for a few minutes.

Reevaluate the task at hand. If there’s more than one task on your mind, prioritize things according to what absolutely needs to get done first, then do it. Once it’s done, take another break and decide where to go from there. If there are a lot of little things that need to be done, but it doesn’t necessarily matter the order, try starting with the most simple task first and ease into the bigger things.

All sorts of things can help us ease the harmful effects of stress. Warm bubble baths, naps, or a walk around the block could turn out to be just the thing to clear our minds. Sometimes, though, the stress can be a little more than even a quick pick-me-up can fix. It’s important to monitor how often we feel stressed because being stressed more than occasionally, or feeling stressed on a daily basis, could be a symptom of something bigger.

April has been designated Stress Awareness month since 1992. During this month, health care professionals try to raise more awareness about stress and how to deal with it. Many health care organizations will host events and distribute literature to educate people about what stress actually is and how to deal with it effectively.

There is a difference between good stress and bad stress: good stress can actually make us feel more motivated, while bad stress can make us feel completely drained. Good stress is usually implicit, like anticipation for a big life event, while bad stress comes from an outside source, like your boss telling you that you have to make an impromptu presentation in twenty minutes.

While it may be nearly impossible to live an entirely stress-free life, it is possible to manage stress so that it won’t have such debilitating effects.

“There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you want to let it affect you or not.” – Valerie Bertinelli, actress

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