April is National Stress Awareness Month and we think that’s an important topic to discuss because stress management can be as essential to good health as managing medical conditions, ailments, and diseases. And because we care, here are a few tips that will hopefully assist you in managing any stress in your personal life, and in the lives of those you love and care for.
First off, we’re all fortunate to live in the small Texas towns and rural countryside in and around Brady, Mason, Menard, and Eden. Small towns and rural lifestyles are typically less stressful than large cities. We don’t have to cope with traffic congestion, huge crowds, and too many inconsiderate people. When you make your rounds shopping in our small towns, you’re greeted by merchants who know you and it’s virtually impossible to go grocery shopping without bumping into someone you know and enjoy. That in itself is a great way to lessen a stressful load.
Stress is Natural
When running to the rescue in an emergency, or even getting out of the way of fire ants, that rush of adrenalin that helps you react quickly and decisively is a result of stress. The problem is when there isn’t an immediate danger and our bodies and minds are still working over time. Too much of this unwanted stress can wear us down if we don’t address it and the first step really is addressing it. Sometimes just admitting to yourself or others “I’m feeling stressed” is a relief. It can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about, but the reality is that everyone has some form of stress in their lives that they also manage.
After the death of a friend or loved one, stress can take its toll. That’s natural and sometimes it takes longer than expected to get over the strain of the loss. Getting back to a normal schedule and confiding in close friends and family are two steps towards managing the stress involved in those difficult times.
Worry and concern is also natural. You’re late to pick up your child. Your parent is late to pick you up. Fortunately, we now have good cellphone reception and most everyone has one, so that “call home” can help enormously, especially during any of our Texas thunderstorms or tornado warnings.
Being rushed is another natural state of stress. That one’s easy to combat. Add a few minutes to your schedule so you don’t get behind! If necessary, set your clock ahead and fool yourself.
Avoid Negative Situations
An amazing amount of stress can be credited to simply getting caught up with watching the news on television or on your personal communication devices. Tune in to more positive sources of information and entertainment. One of the most interesting non-official “studies” was done in the waiting room at the Veterans Administration Clinic in Brownwood when they ceased putting the overly-dramatic news station on the screens and changed instead to The Nature Channel. Nothing brings down the blood pressure like seeing furry critters romping in the wild.
Some people you know, or perhaps have to work with, can be downright negative and grumpy. Try to either cheer them up (and thus, yourself) or if that doesn’t work, you can always seek out someone else for a more pleasant conversation. The safe topics that seem to work in any conversation are:
- The Weather
- Children or Grandchildren
In these upcoming months of political controversy, isn’t it much better to ask how someone’s grand-babies are doing rather than how they’re going to vote? Political discussions can become heated, and unnecessarily stressful. Unless you and the person you’re “arguing” with actually enjoys the banter, it’s better to avoid political hot topics.
Stress Management Practices and Techniques
There are many, extremely good and very helpful practices that have been proven effective for centuries in managing your stress. Bicycle riding, gentle jogging, walking the dog, signing up for Yoga or Tai Chi, then actually practicing them regularly can help tremendously.
The idea of Physical work, exercise, or playing hard–within your personal limits–is good for you. It gets the blood pumping. A little sweat never hurt anyone, as long as you stay properly hydrated. If you’re an older adult or someone with, for example, a heart condition, it’s best to avoid doing more than you’re capable of. And, for sure, you need to remember to “catch your breath” after overdoing anything.
A less rigorous hobby like gardening is also terrific way to manage your stress, and the enjoyment of being amongst blooming flowers can makes anyone content. If gardening isn’t for you though, there are plenty of other healthy hobbies to try. The local library is a good place to start exploring new interests.
Make time to relax
A hot bath, meditation, prayer and simply talking out a problem with someone who helps calm you down all can help relieve stress. The most important commonality to most practices is actually relaxation and deep breathing. Another good technique is laughter. Laughing, even when forced, has been proven to lower stress and help conquer depression. Take in a good big breath. Hold it. Then let it out with a great big, happy laugh. It works!
Stress balls are a simple and amazingly effective way to quickly relieve anxiety, worry, and even anger. Squeezing a stress ball relieves tension and gets you concentrating on something you can easily control. Come in to City Drug and pick up your very own free, little blue stress ball.
Our stress balls are easy to use:
Eat Right, Sleep Well, Be Happy
Eating the right foods (re-read our March issue on nutrition) getting enough good, solid sleep, and focusing on the bright side of life can be the best stress management tools of all. We actually have sleep banks. If we deplete that bank, we simply don’t have the energy, enthusiasm and awareness needed to cope well with the daily demands of life. Some people need even more than the typical eight hours, so if you’re one of them, add to that bank when you have the opportunity. Nothing beats a good long nap in a hammock on a peaceful weekend afternoon in the springtime. Before the bugs get prolific.
Over the Counter Help?
When it comes to over the counter help aids, if you think you need something from our pharmacy to help you lose unwanted weight or aid in your digestion, or if you think you need something to help you sleep… or stay awake, consult our very knowledgeable pharmacists here at City Drug first. Some over-the-counter remedies might not mix well with your prescription medications and might actually do damage. If there’s a serious question, we’ll be glad to talk with your doctor directly. We know our area doctors well and they know that our pharmacists are respected members of your health care team.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a perfect “happy pill” that works for everyone. It takes some work to muster happiness up for yourself. But we can tell you that happiness truly is the key to a good, healthy life. Smiles, laughter, and the warm hugs our area is noted for can do wonders for your overall sense of well-being.
Stop by and have a chat with us anytime. You’ll not only get good, helpful advice, but you’ll receive a big, earnest, sincere smile… and maybe a laugh or two, which is proven to make any day less stressful.