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Five Ways to Prioritize Self-Care During Stress Awareness Month 

Published: April 1, 2024

There’s no denying it — Americans are stressed. According to the American Institute of Stress, 55 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed during the day. The sentiment rings true around the world, with the average stress level of people across 143 countries at 35 percent.

But most people know they’re stressed. The question is, what can they do about it? This is an especially important question since stress can create anxiety and other mood disorders that have been shown to increase the risk of experiencing a gambling disorder. 

That’s why, during Stress Awareness Month, Pause Before You Play has created a list of free and simple de-stressing activities that can lower your stress level, boost your mood, and improve your mental health! 

Here are five ways you can start destressing today: 

  1. Take a breath: Breathing is one of the best ways to calm your sympathetic nervous system (the part of your brain that is in charge of responding to dangerous or stressful situations). It normally reacts to stress in the form of rapid or shallow breathing and increased heart rate. But by consciously slowing your breathing down, you send the message to your brain that no real danger is present. Read this article for five deep breathing exercises you can do anywhere. 
  2. Put the phone away: Research has shown that more screen time means more stress and anxiety. Getting rid of phones altogether may not be realistic, but you can take steps to decrease your time on them. Try putting your phone in another room before bed, not checking messages in the early morning or evening, or using apps to help limit screen time.
  3. Practice gratitude: This might feel cheesy, but studies have shown that it is nearly impossible to practice gratitude and feel anxious at the same time! Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to feel overly emotional. Just think of one thing each day you’re grateful for and write it down. It could be a big thing like the health of a parent or child or something simple like your morning cup of coffee. Over time all those small things can add up.
  4. Get outside: Whether it’s for an entire afternoon or just a few minutes, stepping outside can help you lower your stress levels. The fresh air and sun have been shown to help realign your circadian rhythm, improving peace of mind and quality of sleep. 
  5. Learn about yourself: Reflecting on your mental health can help you plan and feel less stressed. During Stress Awareness Month, try taking Mental Health America’s Stress Screener to get a better understanding of how you respond to the stressors of daily life. It can also give you practical next steps to help you cope better in the future. 

We want to see how you prioritize self-care this April! Be sure to follow us on social media @PauseBeforeYouPlay_oh on Instagram, Pause Before You Play on Facebook, or @PBYP_OH on X. Tag us in posts where you’re putting any of these five things into practice with the hashtags #StressAwarenessMonth and #PauseBeforeYouPlay

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