may mental health awarenessAs Mental Health Month enters its last few days, we’d like to offer a few practical tips for everyone’s mental health. These tips come from Kathryn Tristan, the author of Why Worry? Stop Coping and Start Living. She has identified seven ways in which people can learn to lower their stress levels.

Following is a quick summary of these tips:

1.     Take three deep breaths. When under stress, we tend to taker shallow, small breaths, which can lead to feelings of lightheadedness and tension. A few slow and deep breaths can calm your nervous system down and even lower your blood pressure.

2.     Stretch your body. Being under stress can trigger headaches, body stiffness, and feelings of tightness. Stretching exercises can loosen tense muscles.

3.     Repeat a calming phrase. Saying a peaceful phrase over and over can help in a stressful moment. It can be something as simple as: “All is well.”

4.     Engage in an enjoyable activity. Plan for something fun in every day. Whether gardening, catching a movie, or just taking a walk, pleasant moments can improve your move and reduce tension.

5.     Focus on what you want, not on what you DON’T want. If you focus on what’s stressing you out, your stress will only grow. Instead, concentrate on positive and supportive thoughts.

6.     Focus on right now. If you’re under stress, it’s not the time to plan for the future. Stay in the moment to avoid fretting about the unknown future.

7.     Cultivate gratitude. With closed eyes and while taking deep breaths, think of five things you’re grateful for in your life right now. This simple action casts off negative thoughts and leaves you feeling rejuvenated.

Try a few of these tips next time you’re feeling particularly anxious or stressed. For further information, check out the full Psych Central article on Tristan’s tips, which also includes a self-test to measure your own stress level.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

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