April is National Stress Awareness Month. Am I the only one that notes the fact that tax returns are also due on April 15th? Coincidence? Hmmm…
April 15th cuts the month of April in half. For most people, the first half will be “distress”–which is the negative type of stress. They will worry and fret, pencil in hand over a set of tax forms… gathering receipts and interest statements and W-2s. Some panic about how much they might owe (or that they might get a refund lower than they’re hoping for). Physiological symptoms of distress include increased blood pressure, tension headaches and digestive problems. Behavioral symptoms include loss of appetite (or, conversely, binge/overeating), insomnia and negative coping mechanisms.
I’m guessing you could list a good number of “distress” producers. But did you know that you could be causing some of your own distress? Some of our behaviors create distress for us. Overscheduling (or poor scheduling skills), procrastinating, poor planning, and failing to be assertive or advocate for yourself (or your children) can all create negative stress as well. If you worry about the future constantly or have repetitive thoughts or fears, these can all be negative stressors that we create for ourselves as well.
But it’s April and April 15th comes, then goes–and with it, our returns are filed and fate sealed. For most, this is when we experience “eustress”. Eustress is POSITIVE stress. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? But no, it’s a real thing. These are stress situations that make us happy and motivate us. Getting married, buying a home, a new job or even taking classes can all be situations that are stressful–but in a motivating way. That being said, even eustress situations can get to a tipping point into distress.
Whether or not a particular situation will cause eustress or distress depends a lot on the individual person. How we think about a situation, how we think about our own capabilities, how we talk to ourselves internally–these are all things that will determine whether a task or situation causes us eustress or distress.
Is there anything you can do? There are LOTS of things you can do! And during this month, I’ll help you find some ways that work for you. You just have to be willing to really give it a chance! You’re not going to eliminate stress, but you can certainly learn how to manage the symptoms and implement stress reducing techniques. One of the most effective is meditation. I know, I know… you don’t know how to do it or you feel stupid or it doesn’t work for you. No, no… first, read my blog post about it because I was totally with you.
It can be done! You can do it! I can help you!