Americans feel overworked, undervalued, stretched too thin, burnt to a crisp — the bottom line is that we feel stressed out and don’t see a change in sight. About 1 in 7 Americans feel stressed seven days a week, according to a survey.

Millennials and Gen Xers — who are in the midst of their careers, possibly caregiving for their children and parents at the same time, experiencing financial hardships and still navigating the pandemic — are feeling the most pressure.

April is Stress Awareness Month, and it’s time to make your brain health (mental health) a priority.

Why you need to recognize and manage stress

Managing your stress might sound like adding another task to the to-do list. But repeated stress can cause other negative brain health symptoms and negatively impact your relationships. Additionally, brain health issues can affect your physical health. Short-term stress symptoms can include headaches, hives and acne while long-term stress actually lowers your immune system.

It's important to recognize your body’s and mind’s stress signals, which can include the following.

  • Mood swings.
  • Feelings of overwhelm or hopelessness.
  • Persistent anxiety, irritability or difficulty focusing.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Unhealthy substance use.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Changes in appetite, weight or activity level.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Chest pain.
  • Lowered immune system.
  • Upset stomach.

Looking to reduce your stress? Follow some of these tips.

1. Give yourself grace.

If you’re being pulled in too many directions, it’s time to learn how to let some things slide. You can’t do everything at all times, and you can’t be everything to all people.

It’s OK to say no to obligations that take too much of already limited time or abstain from activities, people or places that induce anxiety. Set boundaries for yourself and inform others what they are. For instance, you could tell your co-workers or boss that you won’t check email after 5 p.m., but they could call you in an emergency. Identify your priorities and let other responsibilities fall by the wayside for now.

2. Take care of your physical health.

As we know, your brain health affects your physical health and vice versa. Keeping a routine, eating healthy foods, exercising, going outside and getting plenty of sleep can go a long way toward improving stress and maintaining brain health.

It’s a good idea to avoid drugs and alcohol, which can exacerbate symptoms of stress. Additionally, some activities like yoga and meditation can help balance fight-or-flight hormones the body produces when stressed.

3. Ask for help.

Delegation may not be easy, but it is important. Can’t take on another work project or need help from a spouse, partner or community member? Ask for help. You could also ask a friend or loved one to help you stick to your new goals if you’re looking to reduce certain stressors and reprioritize.

4. Seek therapy.

If you feel like stress is controlling or interfering with your daily life, it’s time to reach out to a brain health professional in your area. A therapist or other brain health expert can help address conditions that may be causing stress and provide tips to help cope.

To get in touch with brain health professionals close to you, contact us at