April is National Stress Awareness Month. With many people working long hours, dealing with possible job losses, raising families, and more, it can be easy to let life stressors take over. This month, The Narrative Matters wants to focus on helping those who have been dealing with stress by offering effective solutions that you can start doing today.

Chicago Journalist, Sydney J. Harris, once said, “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

It’s imperative that you make time for yourself and do the things you love to help combat stress. If you continuously plow through life and don’t take the time needed to lower your stress levels, it can have negative effects on your body, such as cardiovascular diseases or mental health disorders.

Signs You’re Stressed

Stress can present itself in various forms. Healthcare providers have said that stress can look like any of the following:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anger or irritability
  • Incessant worry or anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain or body aches
  • Digestive issues
  • Recurrent illnesses

If you’ve been noticing any of these symptoms, it may be a sign you need to make some lifestyle changes. Once you become aware of your stressors, you can then work to relieve them.

Recommendation #1: Meditation

A great way to manage stress is with meditation. Experts recommend doing at least ten minutes of intentional meditation to help rebalance your mind and body. Meditation gives you the chance to sit quietly and let your mind relax. 

It’s also an uninterrupted time for you to forget about everything that could be contributing to your stress, such as finances or a busy job. If you’ve never meditated before, try it today and see how you feel afterward.

This post by Earth To Marsz gives good insight into the art of meditation.

girl meditating on bed

Recommendation #2: Journaling

If you’re looking for an effective way to lower your stress levels, journaling is the way to go. Journaling gives you an outlet to fully express yourself, with no judgement or limitations. There is nothing easier than finding a notebook in your house and starting to write. You can write about your feelings, your aspirations, your regrets, or anything that you choose. You’d be surprised at how amazing you could feel after putting your thoughts down on paper.

One of the journals we’re loving right now is this one by K Ligg Co.

grey and pink journal on a white table

Recommendation #3: Self-Care

Much of the stress that we experience on a daily basis can be greatly reduced by practicing self-care. Self-care can be anything that you do to help your mind and body feel good.

There are many ways that you can practice self-care, such as:

  • Turning off your phone and reading a book
  • Working in your garden
  • Curling up on the couch and watching your favorite movie
  • Going to the gym or a fitness class
  • Taking a long, relaxing bubble bath
  • Getting a facial
  • Cooking a delicious and nutritious meal
sign that says "take care of yourself"

By adding time in your busy schedule to practice self-care, you’ll soon notice a shift in your mood and a change in your stress levels.

Stress awareness is such an important concept that many overlook, and The Narrative Matters strives to help the often overlooked urban communities find efficient ways to manage stress. In doing so, individuals will have a better quality of life and will be better suited to properly handle stressors as they occur.