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Get in touch with your stress today!

April 16, 2010 |  3:02 pm

Perhaps it was the big check you wrote out yesterday. Or the scramble to get to the post office to get said check postmarked in time. Perhaps it's the endless demands of jobs and family. Maybe it's just become a way of life.

If you're stressed, then you've got a reason to have a celebratory cocktail today: April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day.

Oh, wait. National Stress Awareness Day was established in 1982 and has been sponsored yearly by the Health Resource Network, a nonprofit health organization, to encourage healthy ways of dealing with stress.

All right, forget the cocktail. Perhaps a nice walk in the mountains -- or around the parking lot -- instead? Perhaps you should slip into a meditation class between those endless meetings or errands? Or maybe just meditate briefly about the future prospect of learning to meditate. That ought to help. 

In fact, the entire month of April has been designated stress awareness month. But April 16 is a special day on our yearly stress-ometer, the more so this year because everybody's going all tea-party about paying taxes.

Guess who's got ideas on what to do on National Stress Awareness Day? La-Z Boy, maker of the eponymous recliners. They suggest you elevate your feet and get some lumbar support. The Ski Channel also has some ideas that involve elevating your entire body to a higher altitude and coming down -- really fast.

Just so we're clear on this, stress -- in particular chronic stress -- is bad for your health. It's pretty clearly linked to elevated blood pressure and incidence of stroke, it can wreak havoc with your memory and, if you deal with it poorly, can raise your risk of depression -- a new article in Nature Neuroscience recently looked at this link. And then there's the grinding and clenching of teeth. A recent article in BioMedCentral's open access publication Head and Face Medicine found that grinding and clenching of the teeth at night is largely the result of poorly managed stress.

So, be sure to put "celebrate Stress Awareness Day -- healthily" on your to-do list.

--Melissa Healy