National Relaxation Day

Stress is something we often joke about, but in reality it's no laughing matter. This time of year, in particular, presents a variety of challenges that can send your blood pressure skyrocketing. It's unbearably hot; school is starting back so schedules are getting overhauled and traffic is ridiculous; the holidays are approaching and stores already have Halloween decorations out, which means it's just a matter of days before the Christmas trees appear; and it's unbearably hot.

These and so many other difficulties can come together and have a tremendous impact on our mental and physical health. Stress can complicate relationships and have a negative impact on work and health.

In other words, stress is a very real problem that we need to find very real solutions for.

Celebrating National Relaxation Day, which falls on August 15 every year, is not going to solve all your problems or remove all stress from your life. What it will hopefully do is give you a nice break, and maybe get you started on some tools that can help you minimize the negative effects of stress.

Healthy Ways to Prevent (and Cope with) Stress

  • Take Care of Your Body --- Staying active, eating well, and getting enough sleep can make you feel better physically, which can improve how you feel mentally.
  • Connect --- Talk with others about how you're feeling and what's causing stress in your life. Get tips from trusted friends and community organizations that may help you reduce stress.
  • Make Time for Yourself --- Put down the phone, turn off the news, and go for a walk, read a good book, or just enjoy some good quality quiet time.

Relaxation Techniques

There are several things you can do to slow your mind and body down so that you can truly relax, including:

  • Breathing --- Concentrate on taking long, deep breaths until you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation --- Tense and relax your muscle groups one at a time from head to toe until your entire body is relaxed.
  • Meditation --- Focus on a sound, a visual image, or a repeated word or phrase to help you slow down and lower your stress.

These tips are great and practical ways to help you relax, but we all find relaxation in different ways. Maybe it's a morning cup of tea or coffee on the porch; maybe it's an afternoon of fishing or biking; maybe it's a funny movie or some good music in your headphones. The important thing is to take some time today --- and every day --- to relax.

NOTE: If, at any time, stress threatens to overwhelm you or someone you know, and if you or that person begins feeling vulnerable or suicidal, please call 988, the national number for all mental health and suicide crises. Visit ADPH Suicide Prevention for more information.