The first Wednesday in November is National Stress Awareness Day, dedicated to promoting knowledge about stress as well as best practices for stress management, well-being, and performance.

As both employers and employees, it’s important to acknowledge the various stressors we all struggle with, specifically over recent years. The pandemic, work-life balance, the rising cost of living, conflict around the globe — heightened stress levels among the workforce is not only natural given the circumstances, but probably more common than not. Stress can manifest in physical and mental ways, with increased headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, brain fog, forgetfulness, a general feeling of overwhelm and more.

So how can we tackle all that stress quickly? When you’re feeling stressed but you have just a few minutes to de-stress, try:

  1. Talking to a friend or family member about how you’re feeling. Sometimes this simple step — having a conversation with a loved one — can help you feel heard and ready to move forward.
  2. Focusing on the things you can change, rather than putting energy toward things out of your control. Do a brain dump if possible, because dwelling on the current stressor will only exacerbate the feeling.
  3. Setting small goals and celebrating those goals. What can you control in the short term? Give yourself a goal and plan to celebrate that achievement, large or small.
  4. Moving your body. There’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life.
  5. Trying the 4-7-8 calming breathing exercise. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold that breath for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. Repeat several times in a row and feel yourself relax.
  6. Finding a positive focus. What makes you happy, quickly? Whether it’s petting your dog, hugging your spouse or laughing with a friend, find your serotonin enhancer.
  7. Remember: don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you feel overwhelmed and your coping mechanisms aren’t helping, it may be time to find a mental health provider to help you manage your stress or anxiety effectively. It can feel scary or difficult to seek help for the first time, but keep in mind that both stress and anxiety are common, and both are treatable.
Remembering that you’re not alone, and that everyone experiences and gets through stressful experiences in life is important. Despite being unpleasant, stress in itself is not an illness, but rather something you can cope with if you keep the right tools in mind.

National Stress Awareness Day: Stress busters when you have 5 minutes or less