Lifestyle Tips — stress awareness


How to Celebrate Stress Awareness Month... the Relaxing Way 0

Stress Awareness Month
Photo by Samuel Silitonga from Pexels

Whether you have an issue at work, recently argued with a friend, or (as of late) struggle with COVID-19 anxiety, chances are you've been on the wrong side of stress more times than you can count. Heck, you may even be part of the 79% of Americans (1) who experience it daily; so, by now, you two probably co-exist.

However, feeling stressed all the time won't do your mental health any favors, especially if this has been going on for a while. That's why Stress Awareness Month is here to help us learn all about stress and how to beat it. So, if you want to decompress when things feel chaotic, these ten cool ways will help you celebrate Stress Awareness Month the way we all should: chillaxed and poised.

What is Stress Awareness Month?

Held every April since 1992, Stress Awareness Month(2) is a national initiative that aims to inform people about the potential causes and cures for stress, a.k.a. "the health epidemic of the 21st century"(3) (as dubbed by WHO). During its course, mental health professionals from across the country join forces to share their knowledge on the dangers of stress as well as attainable coping strategies to deal with increasing nervousness. In some cases, the experts even brief people on the misconceptions around stress and how those can do more harm than good.

10 Healthy Habits to Build During Stress Awareness Month

1. Roll Out Your Yoga Mat

By now we all know that yoga and beating stress (4) go hand in hand. The combination of deep breathing, mild physical activity, and mindfulness increases the blood flow to the brain, a procedure that stimulates the rewarding pleasure centers while inhibiting the areas that are responsible for fear and aggressiveness. Such an inhibition lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate, eliminating stress.

Of course, don't feel discouraged if you're not a hardcore yogi. According to research (5), meditation can also do the trick as it improves blood pressure and cortisol levels, giving your body a chance to relax. Scientists (6) have also found that the practice increases the amount of grey matter in the brain, helping you control your emotions (including stress) even more.

2. Head Into the Kitchen

For some, cooking may be a daily chore or a social activity. But, for others, especially those who struggle with stress, cooking may actually be therapeutic. One recent study (7) concludes that cooking can alleviate stress by improving a person's nutritional habits. Believe it or not, when we consume healthy foods, we feel happier and less agitated thanks to all the vitamins and nutrients. So, every time you feel anxious, bust out your pots and pans and start cooking. It doesn't have to be something fancy. A simple banana recipe or a homemade soup is enough to put your mind at ease.

3. Take Deep Breaths

Another useful tool in your battle against anxiety during Stress Awareness Month is your breath. According to experts, shallow, short breathing (8) sends signals of stress and anxiety to your brain, triggering your fight-or-flight response, and putting your entire body on alert mode. On the other hand, mindful, deep breathing (9) stimulates the Vagus nerve, a specific part of the nervous system that is responsible for slowing down stress hormones. Now, inhale, exhale!

4. Laugh it Off

Ever heard that laughter is the best medicine? Well, science (10) also seems to agree as getting your giggles on is linked to chemical changes in the body that ultimately reduce stress. However, note that there's a difference between forced and genuine laughter as the latter doesn't seem to have any effects on a person's psyche. So, call a friend, put on a comedy, or watch a funny animal video. Longevity is a few giggles away.

5. Sip Some Tea

Even though it contains its fair share of caffeine, green tea (11) is one of those beverages that are known for calming people down. That's because its leaves are rich in L-theanine(12), an amino acid that exhibits some strong stress-reducing effects. For better results, researchers (13) suggest adding a spoonful of honey to your cup as the amber elixir comes with some serious anxiolytic properties.

Tip: If you're not a huge fan of green tea, you can also try sipping on a cup of chamomile (14). The herbal brew is linked to reduced stress thanks to its high content in flavonoids and zero traces of caffeine.

6. Listen to Your Favorite Tunes

If you have an old playlist waiting for you in your music library, this is your chance to crank it up! One recent study (15) showed that listening to music can calm your nerves, mainly by dampening the levels of the hormone cortisol, which is related to stress. As for which types of music work best, the study didn't provide us with any suggestions. But, jazz and classical music seem to be the consensus due to their slow tempo and soothing effect. Of course, if these types don't sound like you, just go for any type that makes you feel good. After all, that's the whole point.

7. Take a Nap

Power napping boasts a lot of health benefits, but the most important of them all is stress relief. Why? Simply because the midday habit acts as a countermeasure for all the sleep lost during the night. So, by eliminating the sleep deficit, power napping (16) "buys" your brain and body some time to rest and regulates the production of hormones, including cortisol.

8. Chew Gum

Chomping on a piece of bubblegum may seem like a childish way to deal with stress. But, research (17) shows that chewing gum curbs the production of salivary cortisol, reducing your chances of feeling stressed. It also heightens the activity in specific parts of the brain which are related to serotonin (18) production, a.k.a. the hormone that regulates mood and anxiety.

9. Get a Whiff

Even though science is still not conclusive on the benefits of aromatherapy, several studies (19) prove that sniffing on a pleasant smell can reduce stress. The reason? The odor stimulates certain receptors in your nose, sending feel-good signals to your nervous system, and relieving you from anxiety. However, not all scents are created equal. Lavender (20), rose (21), and citrus(22) are actually your best options.

10. Read a Book

According to a 2019 study at the University of Sussex (23), England, reading can reduce stress by up to 68%! That's because the activity is peaceful enough to slow down your heart rate, calm your mind, and put your body in zen mode. Note, though, that this technique only works if you are reading something you actually enjoy. Don’t force yourself into it. So, pique a book that'll pique your interest and the rest will follow.

How will you cope with stress during Stress Awareness Month? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. https://news.gallup.com/poll/224336/eight-americans-afflicted-stress.aspx
  2. https://stressawarenessmonth.com/
  3. https://hcatodayblog.com/2019/04/30/stress-the-health-epidemic-of-the-21st-century/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895748/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5862744/
  8. http://calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/shallow-breathing
  9. https://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131734718/just-breathe-body-has-a-built-in-stress-reliever
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125057/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537891/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213777/
  13. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/958721/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26142566
  16. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/benefits-slumber
  17. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/benefits-slumber
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5864293/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19571632
  20. https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2012-02/lavender-oil-anxiety-and-depression-0
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270653/
  22. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/7/1966
  23. https://worldliteracyfoundation.org/reading-reduces-stress/