April is Stress Awareness Month, meant to bring a focus on what the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies as “the health epidemic of the 21st century.” We all have our stresses, whether physical, mental, or emotional. And we all have some ideas in our wellness toolboxes or are looking for new ones to add.
The first step is always awareness. Becoming aware that something is bothering us allows us to reflect on what steps we can take to address it. Our WRAP gives us a way to capture those steps and give us a plan for action.
As we work to continually refresh our WRAP, here are some ideas for stress awareness and reduction based on our five key concepts. The first few pages of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan Workbook offer space for brainstorming on the concepts for yourself.
One of the acronyms for HOPE that I like is Hold On, Pain Ends. The tool that helps me hold on and keep going is persistence. Stress can feel unending, but I find that if I keep plugging away, trying a variety of techniques, I often find a way through.
The bad news is we are the only ones who can make true change in our lives. That puts the burden on us. The good news is we are the only ones who can make true change in our lives. Because we have control! So we have the power to make change. When we are aware of stress, we have the power and the responsibility to do something about it.
Even if we feel overwhelmed by our stresses, we can still take action, recognize the overwhelm, and fit something into the schedule to give ourselves a break. We then make some space to consider what we could do to reduce the overwhelm.
Something I love to do is to keep looking for resources and refreshing my wellness toolbox. I’m constantly seeking to educate myself about new ideas through books, podcasts, articles, friends, any source. It’s amazing what you can find: so much information is available on specific mental, emotional, or behavioral health challenges you may be experiencing. I’ve been working on ideas for rewiring my brain, neuroplasticity, and have found good books, TED talks, coaches, therapeutic interventions, and more to try.
Once we are aware of stress, it’s up to us to advocate for our needs. I live with other people and, as much as I love my family, I sometimes need alone time. Luckily, my family is more than open to supporting me, as long as I let them know what I need and work with them to arrange time that works for all of us. I’ve even booked a local hotel to really get away on a mini retreat!
One of the tools I use most often is talking with others in my support network to find out what they are doing for stress. Whether it’s friends or members of the WRAP online community in different forums, I love hearing how others are tackling their stress. Sometimes I love just hanging out with a friend who doesn’t need me to be or do or say anything. We can just have dinner, watch a show, and laugh together. Support comes in all sizes, so reach out for the right fit for you.
When we incorporate the five key concepts into assessing our stress, we are in a good position to brainstorm the solutions. We may have the tools we already need in our wellness toolbox, or we might want to expand the options. Use your imagination and tap into your support network to generate new ideas.
If you’ve got some good ideas on stress reduction, please share them on our Facebook page.