Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? While stress is pretty much a 365-day-a-year happening for most of us, this month is a chance to normalize taking care of yourself to minimize stress and live a healthier, happier life. In honor of this time – and to shine a light on the importance of stress management as a cornerstone of overall health – we’re sharing some interesting facts about stress that you might not know. Plus, get tips to help you chill out and stay calm, even when the world demands too much of you.
1. Stress is normal.
We are all hard-wired to experience stress. It’s how our body alerts us to danger. Back in the day, that danger was real – we needed to outrun a tiger – but in our busy modern lives, our dangers are less likely to be physical. Our reactions, however, are just as real as ever.
Tip: Don’t minimize your stress! Let go of the comparison game and focus your energy on managing it instead.
2. Your body is a creature of habit with stress.
When stress happens, your body has a three-step process it likes to follow. First, it switches into “fight or flight” mode when there’s a danger. Next, that rush of energy (thanks, adrenaline and other “stress hormones”) gets you to safety, so you can shift back into “rest and digest” mode. Finally, you chill here until the next time you encounter danger. The goal is to get back to that last step as quickly as possible.
Tip: Deep breathing is one way to shift back into that chilled out mode. When you feel your stress levels rise, check in with your breath. Proper breathing can make all the difference.
3. But that habit can be reset.
We’re only human, and those stresses come faster than ghosts in a Pac-Man game at times, so sometimes it throws off our cycle. That means we get stuck in “fight or flight” mode. But it doesn’t always have to be that way!
Tip: Make a stress management plan ahead of time, since it can be hard to focus on anything but the “flashing red light” of stress when you’re stuck in a cycle. This can help you shift back into “rest and digest” mode.
4. Stress can actually be a good thing.
Yes, that means stress is more like a frenemy than a true enemy. Stress can motivate you to reach big goals, help you avert a fender bender or grab your dog before he runs out the door after the mail carrier!
Tip: You still need to decompress and unwind from the “good” stress. After a high-stakes week full of adrenaline rushes, schedule some down time, preferably in nature. Being outdoors is a great way to manage stress – and having a break from incessant notifications doesn’t hurt, either!
5. Sleep can help you manage stress.
Do you feel like everything in life is easier after a good night’s sleep? It’s true! Your body uses sleep as a time to reset itself. When you don’t get enough, you wake up already behind – and skimping on sleep can trigger a release of stress hormones (and maybe impact weight gain)!
Tip: Before stressful weeks, make sure you’re fully stocked up on our Hello Dreams™ Sleep Strip with Melatonin & Calm Down™ herbal blend. They’re easy to take and fast-acting. Simply place one on your tongue about 10 minutes before you want to drift off. Let one melt, swallow, and enjoy your rest. Each minty herbal strip is formulated to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up rejuvenated!*
6. Not everyone has the same threshold or response.
Stanford researchers actually used an MRI to measure the brains of people with low mood. What they found was six “biotypes,” which represent how the individuals reacted to stressful or unpleasant situations. There was a strong correlation between certain biotypes and the release of stress hormones!
Tip: Knowing how stress impacts you could help you form a plan ahead of time, so you’re prepared for your “hot-button” situations. The next time you’re in a stressful situation, take a few minutes to journal your reaction afterward. What was your instinctive response? What worked to help you de-escalate the tension?
7. Certain herbs can help you adapt to stress.
Botanical ingredients called adaptogens help the body adapt to stress. They are skilled at playing the long game, so it’s best to take them over time. Our favorite one? Red ginseng, of course! Known as the King of Adaptogens, ginseng is a potent herb that’s highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ginseng has been used for millennia in TCM to support health and well-being. It teams up with your favorite morning brew in our Good Morning Sunshine™ Coffee + Adaptogens, giving you the energy to fight fatigue with more than just caffeine.*
Tip: TCM is all about balance, something that’s absolutely necessary for managing stress. Learn more about 8 Great TCM Supplements for Stress & the Importance of Conscious Consumption.
8. Stress can impact your health.
The last thing we want to do is give you more stress, but we also want to stress the importance of dealing with it – before your body pays the price. Stress is connected to your immune health, and so many other areas of well-being. Self-care practices that help you manage your levels of overwhelm aren’t “selfish.” They’re important for your health!
Tip: Carve out “me time” regularly, even if it’s 15 minutes. Every little bit helps, and most of us don’t have the time or resources for a weeklong wellness retreat on a remote island (though we can dream!).
9. (Many) women really are more stressed out than men.
You’ve heard of the gender gap – but did you know there’s also a stress gap? Women tend to bear more of the workload at home, so their stress levels tend to be higher. (Guys, we aren’t sharing this to diminish your own stress – we see you!)
Tip: This is a tough one, but find ways to share the load at home, especially when it comes to domestic work and emotional labor. If that’s not possible, use tech to your advantage, so that you don’t have to keep track of everything yourself.
10. You can take inventory of your stress.
For anyone who likes to quantify things in life, there’s a stress inventory. Certain types of stress are generally more intense than others. Knowing how much of a burden you’re carrying can help you put things in perspective – and offer valuable insight if you decide that talking to a professional might help.
Tip: Use the inventory to check in with how you’re doing. The last couple of years have been hard, and we’re all carrying unseen burdens. No matter what, be gentle with yourself – and ask for help.