Mental Health Monday: Address your stress level this month

This is part of a regular series called Mental Health Monday. Our goal is to share information about mental health trends and research, as well as suggestions for what we can do as individuals and communities to improve the mental health of ourselves and others. 


April is Stress Awareness Month

Do you consider stress to be a good thing or a bad thing? April is Stress Awareness Month, which makes it a time to look at the stress in our lives and consider whether it’s benefitting us—and if it’s not, to consider what we might do about it.

Most of the time we talk about stress negatively, but not all stress is bad. “Stress can motivate people to prepare or perform, and might even be life-saving in some situations,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But stress—even stress that leads to good outcomes—can be hard on our bodies. Chronic stress can make conditions such as headaches, insomnia, and even high blood pressure and heart disease more likely.

One way to address the stress in our lives is to address the root cause, or causes, of that stress. The five factors that people are most likely to say cause them stress are money, work, family, economic outlook, and relationships, according to the American Psychological Association. Fixing those problems is often not easy or quick, however. In the meantime, it’s good to try to address the effect of the stress on our bodies.

One way to do that is to practice meditation or mindfulness, which works to quiet the mind. Some of the benefits of meditation include reduced tension, improved sleep, lowered heart rate, normalized blood pressure, and lower production of stress hormones.

Another way to relieve stress is to exercise. Moving your body enough to get your heart rate up can increase feel-good hormones, reduce the negative effects of your body’s stress response, bring your mind’s focus onto your body (and effectively serve as meditation in motion), and improve your mood.

A third way to address stress in your life is to see a mental health professional. Which brings us to another special time to mark this month …


April is Counseling Awareness Month

Counseling Awareness Month is intended to honor the contributions that counselors make in our society. According to the American Counseling Association, “professional counselors help people gain personal insights, develop strategies, and come up with real-life solutions to the problems and challenges they face in every area of life.”

Lost&Found especially celebrates the work of the staff at campus counseling centers in South Dakota, Minnesota, and beyond. We appreciate the work of these partners in helping to improve students’ mental health!


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