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Stress is a pervasive part of the world around us. While there is no way to totally avoid stress, nor is it even desirable to do so, it is immensely important that we understand how to properly manage stress. Without effective stress management techniques, we can easily develop a chronic stress problem, which has negative impacts on our mental and physical health. What can you do to stave off stress? We’ve developed a relaxation challenge so you can explore some stress-busting activities that can help you unwind and better prepare your body and mind for stress.

Stress awareness facts

Stress is often perceived as a bad thing, but that’s not exactly true. It’s too much stress that is actually an issue. Under typical circumstances, stress can be generally defined as an internal response to external stimuli, but there are different types of stress: acute stress, chronic stress, eustress, and distress. Stress awareness begins with knowing the different types of stress and understanding which ones you may be experiencing.

  • Acute stress: Acute stress is a typical fight or flight response to some immediate stressor in your environment. For example, if you feel stress in the lead up to a big presentation, that’s acute stress. It can act as an important motivator or as a warning to stay away, so acute stress is not an inherently bad thing. It takes about 90 minutes for your metabolism to return to normal after experiencing acute stress. 
  • Chronic stress: Chronic stress occurs when stressors are ignored and continue to weigh heavily on you. Managing stress is important to avoiding chronic stress, which has negative impacts on health and wellness, including a hampered immune system.
  • Eustress: Eustress refers to stressors related to positive developments. If you’re feeling stressed about getting married or meeting a new group of people, for example, that could be described as eustress.
  • Distress: Distress is the opposite of eustress; it is related to negative things. These could be things like financial difficulties or having a big argument with somebody you care about. 

Chronic stress in the U.S. is a growing issue. According to an American Psychological Association 2019 survey of 3,617 people, nearly three in five adults say they could have used more emotional support than they received in the past year. The top stressors Americans experienced in 2019 include work (64%) and money (60%). 

For Stress Awareness Month, Core Roots put together this relaxation challenge to help you more effectively manage your stress, whether it crops up occasionally or it looms ever-present in the background. There are seven challenges for each day of the week. Try them all in order, mix them up, or even just choose your favorites. The goal is to relax! Remember to take note of how you feel before, during, and after. Happy unwinding!

Take a walk outside

It can be all too easy to feel trapped, literally and figuratively, especially if you’re cooped up indoors for an extended period. It’s important to spend some time getting outdoors and soaking up some sun, even if it’s just for a quick stroll by yourself. We need that life-giving Vitamin D and fresh air year-round; being in the sunshine is vital to your mental well-being.

Put it into action: If you have access to outdoor space like a porch, try getting some work done, taking a phone call, or reading a good book outside instead of on the couch. 

Create something new

Creative expression is essential in whichever form it might take. Write a story, draw a picture, or start a craft. Being creative for its own sake can help focus our minds on something other than the stressors of the day, as well as help spark new ideas and perspectives toward the challenges we are facing in our lives. It can also help us let off some steam if a stressful situation is particularly tense and heavy. Whether you are a professional artist or just letting your inner child come out to play, creativity is always a good way to reduce stress and break the monotony of the day-to-day. 

Put it into action: You don’t need to buy anything special to create something new. Look around the house for some long-forgotten art supplies such as crayons or markers. 

Exercise

Exercise is an incredibly important part of any routine. Working out — whether its lifting weights, following a YouTube workout, or even just stretching — releases natural endorphins. These endorphins promote energy and a positive mood that lasts long after the workout is over. If stress makes you feel sluggish and slow, you might just have to exercise to get your body and brain firing on all cylinders. Take note of how you feel at the start of a workout, at the halfway point, and immediately after. Did you suddenly get a rush of energy you didn’t know you had before?

Put it into action: Sample a workout you’ve never tried before. You might be surprised by how great you feel afterward. 

Estefania Valencia of Sanna Ohana takes Core Roots CBD before teaching yoga.

Estefania Valencia of Sanna Ohana takes Core Roots CBD before teaching yoga. Photo courtesy of Sanna Ohana

Try a CBD product

If CBD isn’t already part of your daily routine, take Stress Awareness Month as an opportunity to try it. Research suggests that CBD is effective as a mood-booster and can help you relax. 

How does it work? It all comes back to the interaction between our endogenous cannabinoid system, also known as the endocannabinoid system or simply the ECS, and the cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp. At Core Roots, we source the best organic hemp and use the cleanest CBD to infuse our products in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices, so you’re guaranteed a consistent experience and the same quality standards with every product, every time. 

There are several ways to take CBD. One of the most common is a CBD tincture, which you consume orally. CBD capsules make taking CBD straightforward, packing CBD oil into a convenient softgel. Then there are CBD gummies, of course, which makes taking a precise amount of CBD as easy as grabbing a snack from the pantry. For a fast-acting form of CBD, there are CBD vape additives, which can be added to any vape liquid and used with any electronic vaporizer that supports the use of liquids. 

Put it into action: Don’t just take CBD and assume your entire world will change. Take time to note how CBD influences your mood, energy, and perspective. Start low and gauge how you feel. Adjust how much you’re taking, or which CBD product type you’re taking. You may even want to keep a diary or note on your phone to help you keep track.

Skip takeout

Cooking for yourself takes time and attention. It is a way to value yourself both physically by providing a nourishing meal for yourself and mentally by dedicating and honoring space to prepare something delicious and healthy. Once your meal is ready, sit down and enjoy it (without the phone or TV). Don’t think about the next things to cross off your to-do list. Simply live in the moment and enjoy the meal in front of you. Eating in quiet contemplation or over enjoyable conversation with a loved one is a recipe for stress relief. 

Put it into action: No need to make a special run to the grocery store – take a look around your fridge and pantry and insert the ingredients you already have into a recipe generator like this one from Recipe Land.

Shake it off

Singing out loud and dancing openly might feel silly, but its also a great way to get the blood flowing and lift your own spirits. Put on some of your favorite music and dance around your home. Sing your favorite lines loudly. Try to let yourself go while you do this and let the music carry you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a master at either or terrible at both — music, song, and dance help improve brain function by connecting thought and creativity with our physical movement. It is even thought to improve memory over time. 

Put it into action: Spend 30 minutes singing and dancing to your favorite music. Take special note of your mood and energy levels afterward.

Tell somebody you are grateful for them

Take the time today to tell somebody in your life that you are grateful for them. Sharing your feelings is healthy and important for building stronger relationships. Not only will it help you identify some of the blessings you have in your life, but it will also demonstrate to your friend or family member just how important they are to you, strengthening your bond in the long term.

Put it into action: Be specific! Recall specific reasons why you’re grateful – maybe you’ll make your friend’s day, too!

At the end of your Core Roots Relaxation Challenge

Take stock of the Relaxation Challenge at the end of the week. (If you took notes, now’s the time to review them!) Were you more aware of your stress levels? Which activities helped you feel more relaxed after doing them? Which were most enjoyable to you? Did some surprise you, and did others miss the mark? Whichever relaxation challenges you enjoyed are the ones you should consider incorporating into your life in the long term.

Stress management is an essential life skill

Stress awareness is only the first step. Maintaining a strong routine of stress management tactics is an important part of preserving your mental and physical health. Stress Awareness Month, held each April, is certainly a great time to acknowledge and begin addressing health-harming stress, but there is never a bad time to focus on relaxing. When feelings of stress overwhelm you, revisit this list and give one of the challenges a try, or tap into something we didn’t list here that works for you.